Renewing Your U.S. Visa
The Department of State announced on March 20, 2020 that they are temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates, with limited emergency exceptions. As global conditions evolve, U.S. Embassies and Consulates are beginning a phased resumption of routine visa services. Please regularly check the website of your local embassy or consulate and the Department of State website for updates on which embassies may be open for visa appointments. You may be able to complete form DS-160 and schedule a visa interview online.
To enter the U.S., all international students, with the exception of those from Canada, must have a valid visa upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. To renew your visa, you must contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country to make arrangements for your visa renewal appointment.
As of 8/25/2020, the U.S. Department of State does not require an in-person interview for visa renewals of nonimmigrant visas that expire within 24 months. This policy is in effect until December 31st, 2021. You are encouraged to review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for detailed information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.
You must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate while abroad. You are not able to obtain a new visa from within the U.S.
The ISSO recommends that you have the following documents when appearing for your visa renewal appointment:
Valid Passport (which is not due to expire for at least 6 months)
Copies of all your I-20s or DS-2019s
Financial documents which provide proof of sufficient funds as specified on your I-20 / DS-2019
If you are receiving funding from Brandeis, make sure to obtain an up to date letter from Student Financial Services or your department which specifies your scholarship, fellowship, loan or financial assistance.
Bank statements provided to the embassy officials must be original documents.
Any bank statement other than your personal account, must be accompanied by a signed sponsorship letter from the bank account holder.
Once you are in the U.S. and have been granted your F-1 or J-1 status, you may remain in the U.S. as long as you maintain that status regardless of the expiration date on your entry visa stamp. In other words, if you do not plan on traveling in and out of the U.S. for the duration of your F-1 or J-1 status, you will not have to renew the visa stamp.
Renewing Your U.S. Visa While on OPT
If you travel outside of the U.S. after your F-1 visa is expired during your post-completion or STEM OPT period, you will need to renew your visa before returning. Please note, you are still on F-1 student status while on OPT/STEM OPT, even though you have graduated.
We recommend bringing the following documents when appearing for your visa renewal appointment:
- Valid Passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
- Most recent I-20 showing OPT approved dates and updated employer information, with valid travel signature from within the last 6 months
- Copies of all your previous I-20s
- EAD card
- Job offer letter
- Financial Documents: either paystubs from your OPT employment or bank statements to prove that you can financially support yourself for the duration of your OPT period.
We recommend checking the website of your local US Embassy or Consulate to see if they have additional required documentation for visa renewal.
Please note, F-1 visa applicants must demonstrate nonimmigrant intent, even while on OPT. Be prepared to answer questions about your plans to return home following the completion of your practical training.
Applying to Renew U.S. Visa in a Country Other Than Your Home Country
Applying for a visa in a country which is not your home country (called a "third" country) can be more difficult than applying at home. It may take more time to apply in a third country and there is a higher chance of denial. If your visa request is denied by a consular officer in a third country, you must return home to apply for a renewed visa before you can come back to the U.S.
As such, the ISSO recommends that international students seeking to renew their visa do so in their home country if possible.