Passport Validity

It is important to keep your passport valid at all times. Contact your embassy in the U.S. for instructions on how to renew your passport if it will expire within the next six months. As long as your visa is still valid, you may continue to use the visa stamp in the old (returned) passport along with the newly issued passport.

Check your passport validity
Make sure that your passport will be valid at least six months beyond the date you plan to re-enter the U.S. If you need to renew your passport, you should plan to renew it either well before you leave the U.S. or before you return to the U.S. Also check to see that you have your I-94 arrival/departure card (stapled to your passport). You will be required to surrender your I-94 when you leave the U.S. and will be issued a new one upon your re-entry.

Check your visa validity
In order to re-enter the U.S., you must have a valid visa in your passport.  If you are traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, see the section below on "automatic extension of validity of visa" for exceptions to this requirement. If your visa has expired or will expire while you are outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a new visa while you are outside the U.S. You will also need to apply for a visa if you have use all the entries available on a single or double entry visa or if the visa in your passport does not match the status you currently hold (e.g. you have been approved for a change of status after entering the U.S.). It is currently NOT advisable to apply for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico. If you choose to do so and your visa is DENIED, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. with your former visa.

To apply for a new visa, you must submit the following documentation to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy:

  • DS-156 and DS-158 visa application forms
  • Valid passport
  • Copies of financial documentation (including a letter from your department if you have an assistantship)
  • An official copy of your transcript
  • A copy of your current registration and, if available, pre-registration for the next term
  • If you are an F-1 student on Optional Practical Training, you must also produce your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).

When applying for a visa, you should expect closer scrutiny, possible delays, and procedural changes. You can access U.S. consulate and embassy informationon the internet or have a friend or relative who lives in your country contact the embassy or consulate to obtain the latest information.

Foreign Embassies in the U.S. (scroll down)