Renewing Your U.S. Visa
To enter the U.S., all international students, with the exception of those from Canada, must have a valid F-1/J-1 visa upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry.
- Once you have entered the U.S. and you have been granted F-1/J-1 status, you may remain in the U.S. as long as you maintain that status regardless of the expiration date of your visa.
- A visa is required only to enter the U.S., it does not determine how long you can remain in the U.S. If you do not plan to travel outside of the U.S. and return, while you are in F-1 or J-1 status, you will not need to renew your visa.
If your visa has expired and you do need to travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter to continue your studies, you will need to re-new your visa. You can re-new your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. You are not able to obtain a new visa from within the U.S.
Visa processing times vary from country to country. We recommend that you contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply to learn about the visa application process.
NOTE: Please see temporary guidance on visa interview requirements through 12/21/2023.
We recommend that you present the following documents when you apply for an F-1/J-visa:
Valid Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
Your Form I-20/DS-2019 (with a valid travel signature)
Evidence of Financial Support-You will need financial documents which provide proof of sufficient funds for at least one academic year as specified on your Form I-20 / DS-2019. You can present various documents as evidence of financial support.
Scholarship/Financial Aid Letter- If you are receiving funding from Brandeis, you must have an up to date letter from Student Financial Services or your department which specifies the amount and conditions of your scholarship, fellowship, loan or financial assistance.
Bank Statements-If you are funded by personal or family funds, you must have a bank statement in your name or a bank statement with a letter from your financial sponsor/account holder.
F-1 visa applicants must demonstrate "nonimmigrant intent." Be prepared to answer questions about your plans to return home following the completion of your degree.
Renewing Your U.S. Visa While on OPT
If you travel outside of the U.S. during your OPT or STEM OPT period, after your F-1 visa has expired , you will need to renew your F-1 visa before returning to the U.S. Remember, OPT/STEM OPT is an extension of your F-1 status.
We recommend that you present the following documents when you apply for an F-1 visa:
- Valid Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
- Most Recent Form I-20 showing OPT approval dates and updated employer information (with valid travel signature not more than 6 months old)
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- Job Offer Letter
- Evidence of Financial Support-You will need either pay stubs from your OPT employment or bank statements to prove that you can financially support yourself for the duration of your OPT/STEM OPT period.
We recommend checking the website of your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to see if they have additional required documentation for visa renewal.
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 for a visa in a third country, and there is a higher risk of denial. If your visa application is denied by a consular officer in a third country, you must return to your home to apply for a new visa before you can return to the U.S. in student status.
The ISSO recommends that international students seeking to renew their visas do so in their home countries if possible.
Visa Delays/Administrative Processing /221(g)
The Department of State (DOS) may delay the issuance of visas to some students due to the need for further time for additional review and/or security clearances. This is called "Administrative Processing" and it takes place after the visa interview. The student should receive a 221(g) letter indicating that their visa application is subject to further administrative processing.
The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visas, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
It is impossible to know which applications will require additional processing. However, additional processing is more common among applicants:
- Who were born in, or are citizens of certain countries
- Specializing in potentially sensitive fields of study or research (e.g., sciences, technology, or engineering)
- Having common names that are likely shared with other people
If you suspect your application may require administrative processing, we recommend that you request a letter from your department to offer additional details about your program or work in the United States. This letter may include:
- Your name, degree level or academic appointment title
- An overview of your research including a detailed non-technical description of your research and whether it is basic or applied research.
- Specify whether the research has military or defense applications
- Your Source(s) of funding
- Contact persons in the United States
- Any other information that establishes the legitimate, non-military purposes of your stay
- When you are expected to return to Brandeis to continue your studies or research position
The letter should be written in English, with limited use of technical terminology or jargon. You may present this letter at the time of the visa interview, as needed. While a letter will not prevent your application from being subject to security clearance, the letter may help to provide information and speed processing along. Once a security clearance is granted, it remains valid for up to four years for subsequent visa renewals.In addition, we recommend that you submit a letter from your Principal Investigator or Department Chair describing briefly, in non-technical terms, the specific area of your research and how it fits into the overall research goals of your research group.
While this may not prevent administrative processing, it could result in a quicker resolution of your case.
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- Required Travel Documents
- COVID-19 FAQs
- Renewing Your U.S. Visa
- Form I-94
- Inviting Family to Visit the U.S.
- Overview of Visa Categories
- International Scholars and Staff
- About the ISSO
- Contact Us
- U.S. Embassies and Consulates Worldwide - U.S. Department of State
- Check the Status of your Visa Application - U.S. Department of State
- Visa Wait Times - U.S. Department of State
Before You Travel Outside of the U.S.
Review ISSO's Travel Information so you can be prepared and avoid unnecessary travel complications!