F-1 students (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) are required to have valid, unexpired F-1 entry visas in order to enter the United States as F-1 students.
You are required to have a valid F-1 entry visa for the purpose of entering the U.S. in F-1 status. However, once you are in the U.S., the expiration of your F-1 visa has no bearing on your eligibility to stay. You may remain in the U.S. as long as you have a valid and unexpired I-20, an I-94 card marked 'F-1 D/S,' and are making full-time progress toward the degree objective indicated on your I-20.
Before leaving on a trip outside the U.S., check the expiration date of your visa and the number of entries you are allowed. If your visa is expired or will expire while you are abroad, you may need to renew it while you are abroad. Short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean do not require an unexpired F-1 visa for re-entry into the U.S.
You cannot obtain a new visa while in the U.S. Visas are issued only at U.S. consulates outside of the United States. In order to obtain a new F-1 visa, you must carry with you:
To confirm the requirements and procedure for applying for renewal of an F-1 visa, consult the embassy/consulate where you will be applying. Most consulates post current information on their web site. Go to USEmbassy.gov for a list of consular websites worldwide. Additional information about F and J visas can be found on the Study & Exchange page of the U.S. Department of State website.
Please be sure to plan carefully. Visa appointments and application procedures vary from consulate to consulate, and waiting times vary depending on the time of year.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security started charging a I-901 SEVIS fee in September 2004. Currently the fee is $350 for F-1 students. Students may or may not be required to pay the fee, depending on the following criteria:
Since individual situations may vary, contact the OISS at firstname.lastname@example.org with specific information about your F-1 history, so that we may help you determine whether or not you are subject to the I-901 SEVIS fee.
It is not always possible to renew your U.S. visa outside in a third country (i.e., a country that is not your country of citizenship or legal permanent residence). Some U.S. consulates do not accept visa applications from "third country nationals" at certain busy times of the year. (For example, the U.S. Embassy in Paris may not accept applications from non-French citizens during the summer.) Since 1996, many consulates around the world will not accept visa applications from third country nationals at all.
Also, if you apply for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico and your application is denied, you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Discuss plans to apply for a visa in a country other than your own with one of the International Student Advisors.