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Your Visa Status Documentation

Your Visa Status Documents

While you are studying or working in the U.S., you should keep your visa status documents safe and valid. It’s also important that you understand the purpose of, and validity period for, each document.


Your passport is an important document issued by your country of citizenship and used to establish your identity. In any correspondence with ISS and in your FDU records and other applications, you should use the name as it appears on your passport. If the information in your passport is not accurate, you must correct it before any other visa status documents are changed.


Maintaining a valid passport is an important part of maintaining your visa status in the U.S. We recommend that your passport be valid for as long as possible into the future, but at the minimum, it should always be valid at least six months beyond any anticipated date(s) of entry to the US.


You can renew your passport at your country's embassy in the United States.  However, you can only renew a visa by leaving the United States and applying for a visa at a US embassy or consulate outside the United States. 


The University must use your name, as represented on your passport, on all of your visa status documents. If your passport name is not accurate, you must correct it before any other visa status documents are changed.


Your visa, or “visa foil,” indicates whether you have permission to enter the U.S. in a certain visa status. You may have more than one valid visa in your passport, but you can only have one status while you are in the U.S. Your visa does not confirm your current classification or how long you can stay in the U.S. as it is possible to change status while in the U.S.

Your visa status is kept active by maintaining compliance with the rules pertaining to your particular visa status.  Student visas require good academic standing and reporting to the institution that hosts your visa status.  F-1 status and J-1 status requires students to maintain an active SEVIS record and good academic standing at the institution at which they are studying.

Your I-20 or DS-2019 will reflect the duration of your permission to remain in the United States, even if your visa is no longer valid for travel.  Once you are in the U.S., be sure to keep track of your visa’s expiration date as it may not coincide with the dates on your other immigration documents. If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you will need a valid visa in order to re-enter. 

Canadian citizens are exempt from U.S. visa requirements and thus do not need to obtain a visa foil from a U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada before entering the U.S. However, Canadians do need to obtain other status-specific documents and apply for the proper status when they pass through Customs at a Port of Entry to the United States.

Expiration & Renewal

If your visa expires when you’re in the U.S., you don’t need to take any action until the next time you depart the U.S.—then, in most cases, you’ll need to obtain a new, valid visa to re-enter.

You cannot renew an expired visa from within the U.S., so if you are leaving the US temporarily and your visa is expired, you must make arrangements to obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. Visit our Travel & Visas section for more information.

Some limited travel abroad may be possible with an expired visa. Please review the information on automatic visa revalidation.