The visa stamp in my passport is about to expire. Do I need a new one?
The visa stamp in your passport is for entry purposes only. Once you are in the U.S., the I-20 and I-94 admission number become the active documents that permit you to remain in the U.S. legally as long as you maintain your active F-1 status. You are allowed to stay for D/S, which means "Duration of Status". In other words, the period of time in which you are maintaining your non-immigrant status. The completion date (program end date) on your I-20 is the expiration date of your active F-1 status. Remember that your I-20 can be extended at the Office of International Services if academic reasons have extended your estimated completion date.
Applying for a visa in your home country
We recommend that you apply for a visa at the US Consulate or Embassy in your home country. Most consulates require a personal interview with a consular officer, as well as collection of bio-metric identifiers (fingerprints and digital photograph). It is always advisable to check with the consulate or embassy where you will be applying to determine current application and documentation requirements, as well as processing times. To find out about processing times and procedures consult the website of the consulate to which you plan to apply: http://www.usembassy.gov/
Background and security checks
Consulates and embassies are more frequently conducting background checks on individuals, resulting in possible delays in visa issuance. Background/security checks can be triggered by, but not limited to, arrests in the United States, certain courses that appear on your transcript, or by your field of study. Background/security checks can take up to several months and possibly even longer.
What will I need to apply for a new visa?
- Current SEVIS I-20, signed for travel by a Designated School Official (DSO); signature must be less than a year old from expected reentry date.
- Official MSU Transcript in a sealed envelope and "letter of enrollment", both available to be requested at the Office of the Registrar (Hardin Administration building).
- Proof of financial support. You should be able to verify the amount shown as the total on your I-20 with a personal bank statement, Research Assistant/Teaching Assistantship verification letter if awarded (should include salary and tuition payment details), or sponsor's letter and sponsor's bank statement.
- Proof of ties to your home country. From the Department of State web site: “Student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants’ circumstances vary greatly”. Examples of such evidence may include: copies of bank statements from a bank in your home country, evidence of ownership of property or residence in your home country, a job offer letter from home, or letters from family.
- Issuance Fee charged for visa. The visa application fee is $160. Depending on the country you are from, there may also be an issuance fee (also called a visa reciprocity fee). Check the following website to determine if you will be charged this fee: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1263.html
- SEVIS Fee. If you leave and re-enter the U.S. to regain legal status with an I-20 issued after September 1, 2004, or are readmitted to the University and are returning with an new I-20 issued after September 1, 2004, you are required to pay the SEVIS fee of $200 at www.fmjfee.com
- Application forms. Form DS-156 (can be completed online at http://evisaforms.state.gov/); DS-158 and DS-157 (required of some applicants)
- One passport-size photograph. (Some consulates may require two photographs).
Department of State websites: