How Do I Extend my Student Visa?

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Foreign nationals that are in the United States through a student visa need to remain attentive to the paperwork and files necessary for visa extension. When the deadline for filing approaches or when an extension filed requires help, these foreign students must contact the appropriate offices to provide whatever additional details demanded.

Students that come from other countries are usually given the opportunity to remain in the United States until a degree finishes. An extension is not generally necessary when he or she has an F-1 student visa. These processes for foreign nationals provide a duration of status that keeps the visa active and valid until some certificate or degree completes. This could involve a two or four-year plan of study. Others may seek certification which could take more or less time. However, the academic program does not require an extension unless the foreign national seeks additional education through a Masterís or Doctorateís degree.

Misunderstanding in Documentation

The primary reason that many foreign nationals think an extension is necessary for a single degree is through misunderstandings. The documentation could confuse the student. When the forms are in English, and this is not the primary language he or she knows, additional misunderstandings may occur. The visa stamp and status are separate and may expire at different times. The individualís status is not affected in the United States when the stamp expires. However, a new stamp is necessary if the person travels out of the country so he or she may reenter. If no travel occurs, he or she need not worry about the stamp.

Extending Student Visas

The academic institution provides the student with an I-20 form. This has the end date of the program which needs extension. However, the individual may not enroll in the college beyond this date without modifications. This necessitates a visit to the Designated School Official. A meeting is necessary before the I-20 end date arrives. While the university may have different policies and procedures, the DSO will extend the program end date depending on the student. If he or she is maintaining the correct status but needs more time, the DSO will extend the end date. A new I-20 form issued in these instances has a different end date.

Sometimes, the student needs more time to complete the degree. However, it is critical to contact the DSO before this end date. If he or she lets the time lapse, he or she is out of status. Then, the DSO meeting must occur immediately. Certain options may be available at that point. The student may apply for reinstatement. It is important that reinstatement or extensions occur before the student must leave the country. Another option is through an I-520 Application to Extend. The United States Citizenship Immigration Services offices need communication for this process.

Complications with the F-1 Visa

When the foreign national lets the student visa expire through the I-20 application, he or she may face deportation. While it is possible to recertify after the end date passes, it is more difficult to reenter the country without complications. The paperwork may take time, and the DSO in charge may not assist the individual in time. Reinstatement may lead to the application being restored so that no violations occurred, but without this option, other problems may arise. Employment after the program end date passes could become difficult to acquire when employers view the violations on the personís record.

If the end date passes for an F-1 visa, the foreign national may remain in violation with an unlawful presence until reinstatement occurs. This could lead to deportation of the country. If the individual does not want to reinstate the status, he or she may leave the United States and apply for a new F-1 visa. This takes more time and may cause an interruption in education. It is important to ensure that no legal violations occur during the process. This could prevent future education opportunities and employment in the country.

Legal Support for Student Visas
Once an extension or reinstatement is necessary, the student may need the services of a lawyer to progress through the processes. Hiring a lawyer is beneficial to ensure all paperwork is complete and filed with the appropriate official. This may also provide the foreign national with the opportunity to wipe any violations from his or her record. This improves other chances of employment and education in the future. Legal support may help the student extend his or her stay.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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