Carnegie Mellon University

Visa Renewal & Entry/Transit Visa

Students and scholars who plan on traveling outside the U.S. may need to renew their visa if it expires before their program is over, or may need to apply for a foreign country visitor or transit visa depending on their country of citizenship and legal permanent residence. 

If you will be traveling outside the U.S., we encourage you to contact OIE with any questions and/or to discuss your plans.

If you plan on taking a trip outside the U.S. or returning to your home country for a temporary visit, you should confirm that you will have the proper documents to return to the U.S. If your visa sticker will expire by your re-entry date, you will need to apply to renew your visa - this must be done outside the U.S. (preferably from your home country).

The process of renewing a visa is similar to applying for your initial visa. View application instructions on the U.S. Department of State website.

Tips & Advice:

  • A visa is used solely for travel - specifically, entry and re-entry to the U.S. The visa validity period does not determine how long an individual may remain in the U.S. An individual may stay in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as their SEVIS record remains active and they are maintaining their immigration status.
  • Check the estimated visa processing time on the website of the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan on applying for your visa. Wait times may vary considerably among consular posts, and the processing times indicated may not be accurate.
  • You do not have to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee again if you are an F-1 or J-1 visa holder and will be renewing a visa for the same active SEVIS ID.
  • Depending on your field of study and your country of citizenship, you could be put through a security check, called administrative processing, which could delay your return to Carnegie Mellon. Please keep that in mind when planning a trip to renew your visa.
  • While you can apply for a visa at any U.S. embassy or consulate, it is always best to apply in your home country.

Foreign country visitor and transit visas may be required depending on your country of citizenship and legal permanent residence. Check with the embassy or consulate of each country to find out if you need a visa.

Applying for visas is costly and time-consuming, so plan ahead. If your plane is landing in another country, you may need a visa for that country as well, even if you do not plan to exit the airport.

Note: To obtain a Canadian visitor’s visa, your I-20/DS-2019 may need a new signature.

What happens if my entry visa expires while I'm in the U.S.?

Nothing, if you are maintaining your legal status. If you leave the U.S. with an expired entry visa, however, you’ll need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy to re-enter the U.S. in the same status.

Do I have to leave the U.S. when the entry visa in my passport expires?

No. The length of time you can stay in the U.S. is connected to your academic program or your authorized period of research or employment. As long as you are maintaining your immigration status, you are permitted to remain in the U.S.

What if I get a new passport, but my entry visa is still valid in my old one?

You can continue to use an unexpired visa in an expired passport along with a new passport. Make sure to take both passports with you when you travel.

What if I lose my passport with the valid entry visa?

Be very careful with your passport! If you lose it, you cannot replace your visa in the U.S. You can replace your passport from within the U.S. - you should contact your home country’s embassy or consulate for instructions. Remember that the next time you leave the U.S., you must  apply for and receive a new visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to be eligible to re-enter the U.S.