You will need a valid U.S. visa to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad (see Canada and Mexico for exceptions to this rule). If your visa has expired or has been damaged or mutilated, you must apply for a new one before you return to the United States.
Average Processing Time
Visa application processing times vary from several days to several months. The processing time for your application will depend on a number of factors, including your country of citizenship, your major field of study, and the state of diplomatic relations between your government and the United States. You should contact the embassy where you plan to renew your visa to ask about specific application requirements. A complete list of U.S. embassies and consulates can be found on the Department of State website.
Where to Apply
In most cases, you must schedule a visa interview appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate to renew your visa. The Department of State recommends you apply for a new visa in your home country when possible. It is never possible to renew your visa inside the United States, regardless of whether the United States maintains an embassy in your home country.
Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare for your interview. 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa
Third-Country Visa Applications
You may apply for a visa in a country other than your country of citizenship or legal permanent residence, unless prohibited by the Department of State. This option is only recommended when the United States does not maintain an embassy in your home country.
What to Bring
You will need the following documentation for your visa interview appointment:
- Your current passport, which should be valid for at least 6 months into the future;
- Your current I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature (signature must not be more than 12 months old);
- Documentation showing financial support for the next 12 months (F-1 students) or duration of your program (J-1 students);
- Documentation establishing ties to your home country, such as property deeds, investment portfolios, or job offer letters);
- Official DU transcripts showing full-time enrollment, and any I-20's with less than full-time enrollment authorizations
- Notarized copies of any degrees earned in the United States.