Renewing Your Visa

Our office recommends applying for a renewed visa in your home country, rather than another third party country. Canada has recently begun limiting the number of third-party country visas it will issue, and if you visa application was denied, you would have to return home before returning to the U.S.

Applying for a new visa can be a lengthy process, so make sure you allow sufficient time. The best time to renew a visa is during the annual academic breaks.

The visa is an entry document, meaning you can remain in the United States on an expired visa stamp as long as your F-1 or J-1 status is still valid. However, you will need a valid visa to re-enter the United States, unless Automatic Visa Revalidation applies.

The following links provide useful application regarding the visa application process

If you have questions regarding your visa application, please contact the embassy in your country. Visit here for more information.

Background Checks and Administrative Processing:

Any individual applying for a visa, but especially individuals from certain countries or who are pursuing degrees in certain “sensitive areas of study,” may have to undergo a criminal background check and/or undergo administrative processing before obtaining a visa. This can be a very lengthy process and can delay your visa, so please allow time for processing if you believe you may be subject.

Technology Alert List and Sensitive Areas of Study:

Graduate students who are considered to be majoring in "sensitive areas of study" as determined by the U.S. government may also be required to undergo administrative processing before a visa can be issued. There is a document called the "Technology Alert List" that visa officers consult for this purpose.

China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia have received special mention by the U.S. State Department in the context of this list because these countries are considered to possess nuclear capability that is of concern to U.S. national security.

But even if you are not a citizen of one of the countries listed above, your field of study (especially if you are a doctoral student majoring in the sciences, technology, computer science or engineering) might require your visa application to undergo an administrative processing REGARDLESS of the country you are from. The State Department has announced that these clearances generally take as long as eight weeks for review. Once granted, the clearance will be valid for the duration of the student's study, to a maximum of four years, unless the field of study changes.

It is strongly recommended that if your field of study is "sensitive", you should obtain a letter from your faculty advisor that explains the nature of your studies and/or your research. The letter should also include your faculty advisor's address, e-mail and telephone number. The letter should be written using language that is easy to understand, and should not exceed the front side of one page. In addition, print a copy of your faculty advisor's official university webpage, containing information regarding his or her research, and attach the letter to it.

Be sure to include the following with your visa application:

  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • A description of your research plan
  • A copy of your advisor’s University webpage, that describes his/her research interests

If you find that your visa application is delayed due a need for the consulate or embassy to send your file for administrative processing based on your field of study, please notify the ISSS by e-mail, fax or telephone of the situation.

SEVIS Requirements:

Visa officials are required to verify your record in the SEVIS system before a visa can be approved. This is also true for any dependents. There have been data transfer problems of some SEVIS records between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State that have resulted in lost information. If the visa official is unable to access your record in SEVIS and you have a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019, please contact the ISSS by e-mail, phone or fax to alert us of the problem.

Last modified: Jul 22, 2015
International Services for Students and Scholars, Phone: (518) 276-4966, Fax: (518) 276-4839