Frequently Asked Questions
My old passport has expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?
No, you do not need to apply for a new visa. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports. This Visa must still be valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. Both of your passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country and type (i.e.: both German regular passports, both official passports, etc.). When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE), the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport. If s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation “VIOPP” (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into your new valid passport. If you attempt to do so, your visa will no longer be valid.
My passport with my visa was stolen, what should I do?
If your passport with your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately and report your old one as lost/stolen. Please visit Lost and Stolen Passports, Visas, and Form I-94s.
My visa was damaged. What should I do?
You will need to reapply for a new visa if yours has been damaged in any way. You can reapply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
How long does it take to receive my Visa?
F-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1 status any earlier than 30 days before your start date.
Continuing Students may renew their visas at any time. They must maintain student status and their SEVIS records should be current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before their classes start.
What are the similarities and differences between the F-1 and M-1 Visa?
There are many similarities between the F-1 and M-1 Visa: first, both statuses can only be granted for people enrolled with Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified institution. Second, the sequence of events is similar in both cases; the student is first admitted into an institution, that institution issued an I-20, the student submits their visa application, and then finally entry and receipt of Form I-94.
However there are differences between the two visas: The F-1 visa is for academic programs, whereas the M-1 visa is for vocational programs. Students on an M-1 Visa program are not permitted to be employed on campus. Students’ Form I-94 states the expiration date as D/S (Duration of Status) which means that the student may stay in the United States as long as they maintain student status and if they acquire a new I-20 with a later expiration date. Unlike the F-1, an M-1 extension requires the filling of Form I-539 in addition to obtaining an updated Form I-20. F-1 Students may also engage in CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training), both pre and post completion, where M-1 Students can only participate in post-completion OPT for a limited time.
What are the similarities and differences between the F and J Visa?
Both the F-1 and J-1 statuses are part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and can only be obtained for people enrolled with SEVP-certified institutions. Both statuses allow for on-campus employment but for no other employment without authorization. The J-1 Visa requires a sponsor. In some cases, the institution may itself agree to be a sponsor if it is covering the student’s tuition. Otherwise, the student may be sponsored by his or her home country government, or through a scholarship program. The J-1 Visa program is overseen by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and any program must be compliant with their regulations. The F-1 Visa program is overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, both are managed through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is a joint program of the Department of State and ICE.The F-1 Visa uses the Form I-20 to establish status where the J-1 Visa uses the DS-2019. While the F-1 Visa has various options such as CPT and OPT (both pre-completion and post-completion), J-1 Visa holders have, what is called, Academic Training. F-1 Visa holders have a grace period of 60 days after the completion of the program and students on a J status only have 30 days. The J visa has a two-year home residence requirement. This says that, after completion of the exchange program, the exchange visitor must stay for at least two years in his or her home country before being able to return to the United States. The two-year residency requirement can be waived under some circumstances.
Can a student stay in the U.S. between programs?
An F-1 student may stay in the US between transfer of schools if the SEVIS record transfer procedures are correctly followed. If the period between programs is longer than 5 months, your new school must issue a new initial I-20 with a new SEVIS number. If longer than 5 months, the student must leave the US within the 60-day grace period and re-enter no earlier than 30 days before your new school’s program start date.
Does a SEVIS transfer affect the students travel plans?
Only if the student is leaving the US between schools in which case they must enter the US on the I-20 from the new school. They should discuss travel plans with the international student adviser at the new school to make sure that the appropriate “transfer out” date and new I-20 issuance date will allow for travel.
Can a student use their current visa even though they are changing schools?
As long as a student follows the proper transfer procedures, they will be able to use their current, unexpired visa to re-enter the US even if it has the previous school name on it.
How does a SEVIS transfer affect a student’s on-campus employment eligibility?
A student may only work on campus at the school that has access to their SEVIS record. Check with the new schools international office regarding employment eligibility.
Can a SEVIS record be transferred after graduation?
A SEVIS record can be changed up to 60 days after your program is finished; however, doing it before the 60 day period expires is advised.
Does a student need to report to the new school’s international office?
Yes. A student must report to the new school’s International Office upon arrival on campus.