Do I have to leave the U.S. if my F-1 visa expires?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2022 | Visas

If you are foreign national studying in the United States, you likely hold an F-1 visa. This allows you to enter the U.S. to study full-time at an accredited university, college or other approved educational institution.

Though your F-1 visa has an expiration date, that does not necessarily mean you have to leave the country after that date.

What happens when an F-1 visa expires?

The expiration date on your F-1 visa affects when you can enter the United States, not how long you can stay. Even with an expired student visa, you can remain in the country for the duration of your program of study and an additional six months after completing the program, as long as you continue to meet the requirements of your student status.

However, if you want to travel outside the country, you will need to renew your visa before you can reenter. There are some exceptions for short trips to Canada, Mexico and U.S. territories.

How can I renew my F-1 visa?

To renew your student visa, you must return to your home country and apply with the local U.S. embassy or consulate. You will need to show that you still meet the F-1 requirements, including:

  • You have enrolled full-time in an approved academic program
  • You are proficient in English or are taking English classes
  • You have adequate funds to support yourself for the duration of your program

A break in your studies can have an impact on whether you successfully earn your degree. Make sure to check the status of your F-1 visa before any international travel to prevent an unanticipated hiatus.