Visa Questions

Visa FAQs


My visa is expired. Should I leave the United States?

The visa stamp on the I-20 or DS-2019 does not control how long an F-1 or J-1 visa students can stay in the United States. Visa stamps must be unexpired in order to enter or re-enter the United States. Students don’t have to leave the United States if their F-1 or J-1 visa stamp is expired. However, they must ensure that their I-20 or DS-2019 is not expired.


I plan to travel home and need a new F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. What should I do?

Please check the Travel section on how to apply for an F-1 visa abroad. Collect the documents on the checklist and take an appointment with an IPS advisor.


My F-1 visa is valid for another year and I plan to travel abroad. Do I need to do anything with my I-20?

YES. The I-20 must be endorsed for travel by an IPS advisor who will also check your documents and status to advise you about travel. An appointment is needed to see the IPS advisor to get a travel endorsement on I-20.


My visa is expired and I want to visit my home country during the semester break. Can I renew my visa in the United States?

F-1 or J-1 visas are not renewed in the United States. Visas are issued and renewed at U.S. consulates abroad. Students planning to visit their home country during a semester break must read the “travel abroad” section on the IPS website and follow the checklist and information on how to renew the visa abroad.


Can I renew my F-1 visa if it expires after I have applied for, or during my OPT?

NO, probably not. The advice we have received is that renewing an F-1 visa (a visa intended for study only) in order to work (even on OPT) would be virtually impossible and risky. You would need to convince the consular officer that you have ties to your home country, which may be difficult to do if you are going to the U.S. solely for work.


I hear that it is easy to travel to Canada or Mexico as an F-1 student and I don’t have to have a valid F-1 visa to return to the U. S. right?

If an F-1 student travels to a contiguous territory (including Canada and Mexico) and is there for less than 30 days, they do not have to have a valid F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. You must be in valid F-1 status, have a valid I-20, an unexpired passport and a valid I-94.


I want to return home immediately after completing my studies. If I don’t intend to apply for post-graduation training or another academic program, how long can I stay in the United States?

F-1 students are allowed to stay for a 60 day grace period after the completion of their studies. During the grace period, they can travel within the U.S. but can not leave and reenter the U. S. as an F-1 student.


I heard that the U.S. is giving away green cards.

The U. S. Congress has enacted an annual Diversity Immigrant Visa Program also known as the Visa Lottery. It is conducted once a year to make a certain numbers of green cards available to people from countries which are “under-represented” in recent immigration to the U.S. For more information on Green Card Lottery or Diversity Visa, visit the USCIS website at


I have applied for my green card. Do I have to maintain full-time status?

Applying for a green card can be a long and complicated process. An applicant may need to maintain current status (e.g., full-time student) so if the green card is denied for any reason, they can still complete their studies and stay legally in the United States.