Student Visa Change

Making changes to or extending the I-20 form

If the student is not able to complete his studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form, he must apply to the school's foreign student advisor for an extension at least 30 days before the expiration date. Usually extensions will granted if the student provides academic or medical reasons.

If the student changes degree programs (such as from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree program), the student will need to get a new I-20 form and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of beginning the new program. No changes need to be made to the I-20 form simply a change of major.

In order to transfer to another school, the student will need to notify the current school of the transfer and obtain an I-20 form from the new school. The student must provide the foreign student advisor at the new school with the completed I-20 form within 15 days of beginning classes at the new school.

Length of stay

The length of time that a student carrying an F-1 visa is authorized to remain in the US is determined by the INS, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, an INS official will validate the student's Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which states the length of stay.

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Typically the student will be admitted into the US for the duration of his coursework. In other words, the student may stay in the US for as long as he is a full-time student, even if the F-1 visa expires.

However, if the student departs the US with an expired F-1 visa, he will need to obtain a new one before returning to the US to resume his studies. An F-1 visa cannot be renewed or re-issued by the State Department inside the United States; it must be done at an embassy or consulate abroad.

Renewing a student visa

All applicants applying for renewals must provide the following items.

  • A passport valid for at least six months.
  • A completed and signed application form (DS-156) with a photo for each person applying. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport. These forms are available at the consular office at no charge.
  • Payment for the processing fee for each applicant.
  • A new I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months.

All applicants applying for renewals should also be prepared to submit:

  • A certified copy of his grades from the school in which he is enrolled.
  • Financial documents (from him or his sponsor) showing the ability to cover the cost of schooling.

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