You must arrive no later than the program start date on your I-20 and you will not be allowed to enter the United States more than 30 days prior to your program start date (item #5 on your Form I-20). For more information about entering the United States please see the Arriving at Port of Entry page.
All new F-1 international students must attend Mandatory Immigration Clearance. This will take place at the start of each official semester. Please see the main page for times and dates for upcoming sessions. Failure to attend Immigration Clearance will result in an inability to enroll in classes and possible termination of your immigration record. Students must bring with them the following documents:
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the Department of Homeland Security’s electronic database. As mandated by federal regulation, SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students during their stay in the United States. Specifically, SEVIS tracks:
- biographical information (date of birth, country of citizenship, etc.);
- local and overseas addresses;
- academic information (including enrollment status, academic program level, major, start and end of program dates);
- employment authorizations and recommendations;
- visa document issuance & SEVIS fee payments;
- extensions of stay;
- transfers to/from other U.S. educational institutions.
SEVIS affects ALL F-1 international students and their dependents in the U.S. Changes in any of the factors listed above without notifying the immigration office is a breach of SEVIS requirements with serious consequences. So it is important that you understand the factors that affect SEVIS compliance. (You will learn specifics about SEVIS compliance at your mandatory immigration clearance session.)
The ISSO is required to comply with the immigration regulations that govern your student status in the U.S. and must submit information to the government every semester as required by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS.)
Students who violate their immigration status may be subject to removal proceedings (i.e. deportation). Violations of status will result in the need for a reinstatement petition (I-539) with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), or the need to exit the U.S. and re-entering F status to gain renewed legal status. Losing your legal status will seriously impact, or potentially end, your studies at UMass Boston. It is imperative that you work closely with the ISSS office to attend all required immigration sessions, respond to all email inquires in a timely manner, and familiarize yourself with the immigration services webpage that lists all the information you need to know to maintain status in the U.S. including various PDF handouts and brochures.
Resources for SEVIS Advice and Assistance
The ISSO advises international students on the complexities of immigration compliance, and mediates with various U.S. government agencies on students' behalf. The ISSO maintains and updates the SEVIS system and advises students on all issues related to SEVIS and maintaining valid student status—both individually and via workshops and information sessions. Whenever you have a question relating to your legal status or any aspect of compliance, come to the ISSO!! Come during walk-in hours or make an appointment to speak with an immigration advisor.
NOTE: If SEVIS does not receive a timely report each semester confirming that you are enrolled fill-time, your SEVIS record will be automatically terminated by the government and you will be expected to either apply for reinstatement to lawful F-1 status or depart the U.S. within 15 days of the termination date.
In order to maintain legal immigration status you should:
Be enrolled as a full-time student during the official academic year for the duration of your studies. Undergraduates must be enrolled for at least 12 credits of course work each semester. Graduate students must carry 9 credits each semester or be working full-time on a thesis. You cannot drop below full course load without PRIOR approval from the ISSO. There are a few circumstances in which you are permitted to drop below full-time. Failing a course is NOT a valid reason to drop below full-time (unfortunately, you will have to take an F or get an Incomplete). See an immigration advisor at the ISSS office if you are having academic difficulties of any kind to discuss the possibility of a reduced course load before withdrawing from any course. You may be eligible for a reduced course load.
NOTE: If your academic advisors recommend that you withdraw from a class(es), you cannot do so without prior approval from the immigration office, assuming you qualify for a reduced course load. Remember: UMass Boston is a very diverse, global community. Your advisors are probably not aware that you have a particular immigration status with particular immigration restrictions, such as required full-time enrollment. Fortunately, you are aware that you are an F-1 international student and, therefore, you are responsible for following the rules and regulations of your visa category.
Extension of Stay
Obtain program extensions BEFORE the end date on your I-20, and do not remain in the U.S. beyond your authorized stay. For program extensions, you must have your academic advisor fill out the Program Extension Recommendation Form explaining why an extension is warranted and indicating a new program end date. You must submit this form to the ISSS office with a copy of your latest port-of-entry (admissions) stamp, DCF Form, and bank statements showing one year's annual estimated expenses.
Transfer to Another School
Notify the lSSS office if you plan to transfer to another school. To transfer your SEVIS record to another school, you must
- be accepted to a new SEVP-approved school
- present ISSS a copy of the acceptance notification from that school and
- present ISSS with the new school's Transfer-In form that we will fax to them.
Allow five business days for SEVIS transfer processing. To find out if the new school has received your SEVIS record, call the new school's immigration office and provide them your SEVIS number.
Obtain Work Authorization
Receive permission before working off campus. Do not begin employment without prior authorization from the ISSS office in the form of a new CPT-endorsed I-20. Working without authorization, including unauthorized internships, are a violation of status and can lead to removal (deportation) from the United States.
Change of Address
Report any change to your current local address via the WISER system within 10 days of your move. The new address will upload from WISER into the U.S. government database (SEVIS) automatically. When you are on OPT, you may submit a Change of Address Form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change in Academic Status
Inform the ISSS office of any plans to change academic status such as a leaves of absence, changes in program end dates, or withdrawals from the university BEFORE the change occurs. Should you not report such SEVIS events, your SEVIS record will be terminated causing your potential immigration problems.
The spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 of a student in F-1 status are eligible for F-2 status. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible to pursue post-secondary education and are not eligible to engage in any type of employment.
Dependents eligible for F-2 status may apply for an F-2 visa stamp with their F-1 spouse or parent. Most consulates will schedule F-1 and F-2 visa applications at the same time. It is important that consulates are informed that there will be accompanying F-2 applicants at the time that a visa interview is scheduled.
Dependents residing in the U.S. in a qualifying status may also be eligible for a change of status in the U.S. to another non-immigrant status (such as F-1). If your F-2 dependent wishes to do so, please contact the ISSS office for information.
The F-2 status of spouses and children is granted on the F-1 principle’s status. If the F-1 principle fails to maintain status, the F-2 spouse and children lose their F-1 status as well. F-2 spouses and children must also ensure that they maintain a valid passport six months into the future and a valid Form I-20 at all times.
NOTE: If you are a newly accepted UMass Boston student and you wish to bring an F-2 dependent with you, you must inform the graduate or undergraduate admissions offices of your intent. If you are a current UMass Boston student and would like to bring a spouse/child to the United States, you should submit the Dependent Request Form to the ISSS office with full proof of funding for the F-1 principle ($4,500 USD for a spouse and $2,000 USD for each dependent child) and copies of the passport I.D. page for each dependent.
An international student who fails to maintain valid F–1 (student) status needs to apply for reinstatement with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have lost your F–1 status, immediately make an appointment to see an immigration advisor to discuss this process and the consequences of status violation.
Reinstatement can take many months to be approved. Students planning to travel soon will not be eligible for a USCIS petition. Travel while pending reinstatement is an abandonment of the petition and these students must request a new initial I-20, exit, and re-enter in F-1 status. Reinstatement recommendations are for UMass Boston students only. The ISSO does not process reinstatement petitions for incoming students.
Many non-immigrants living in the United States must change their visa status in order to be eligible for full-time study (or to remain in valid non-immigrant status when student status ends). Please consult with an immigration advisor if you are interested in applying for a change of status in the U.S. NOTE: B-1/B-2 visitors CANNOT begin their studies until a change of status to F-1 has been approved by USCIS. F2 dependents may study part-time while pending change of status approval. H-4 dependents may begin studies, but are not eligible for any employment benefits (on campus jobs and graduate assistantships) until the change of status to F-1 has been approved and until they have been full-time students for one year.
Changing immigration status to F-1 student status can be done in two ways:
- Traveling abroad and applying for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country (recommended)
- Filing for a change of status with USCIS. This process can take many months to be approved, so you must plan accordingly if you have a visa status that requires you to be in F status before beginning your studies (such as entry in tourist status). Please note that the next time you travel outside the U.S., you will be required to obtain the F student visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to re-enter the U.S.
Some Common Examples of Change of Status
Change from Tourist Visitor Status to F-1 Student
It is not recommended to come to the U.S. on as a tourist and request a change of status to student status. USCIS often denies applications for change of status from B-1/B-2 (or Visa Waiver applicants) to F-1, as they feel the person falsified his or her original intention when petitioning a tourist visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate abroad, or that the applicant simply entered on a visitor’s visa to avoid the hassle of applying for an F-1 student visa.
Note: You will not be allowed to enroll at UMass Boston if you are in B-1/B-2 visitor status or you are from a visa waiver country. You cannot begin classes until your change of status has been approved by the USCIS and you are officially in F-1 status.
Change from F-1 Student Practical Training to H-1B Temporary Worker
For students who wish to continue employment after the expiration of their Optional Practical Training it is possible to change status from F-1 student status to H-1B temporary worker status. However, the H-1B visa is employer and job specific. The employer must be willing to “petition” an H-1B visa for you. Obtaining an H-1B is much more complicated than other visa categories and involves the Department of Labor as well as USCIS.
Change from F-2 Dependent to F-1 Student
An F-2 dependent is required to change to F-1 status in order to pursue full time studies (except for F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level). If you would like to study full-time in the U.S., you must apply to USCIS for a change to F-1 status, or you may exit and re-enter the U.S. in valid F-1 student status (recommended). As of May 2015 F-2 dependents are allowed part-time study (6 credits). Engaging in more that six credits is a violation of status which will result in termination of your pending F-1 application.
Change from H-4 Dependent to F-1 Student
An dependent of an H-1B may study part- or full-time in H-4 category, and may continue studies while a change to F-1 status is pending. The F-1 status must be approved before a student can be eligible for F-1 employment benefits AND the student must have one year in full-time status to be eligible to eligible for any F-1 off-campus internships (this can begin to be accumulated in H-4 status). If you will receive a graduate assistantship, you may not begin working until you have received F-1 change of status approval and UMass HR will not be able to put you on payroll.
If you will be enrolling in a second degree program at UMass Boston, you should apply and get accepted into the new program before your current Form I-20 and relevant grace period expires (remember: the grace period is the 60 days after your actual program completion in which your record stay active).
PROCESS FOR A CHANGE OF DEGREE LEVEL AT UMASS BOSTON: Once you are admitted into a new degree program at UMass, you should contact an international admissions specialist to begin learn what items you will need to submit to get and updated I-20 with new dates and program information. You will need to submit a new DCF, banks statements, passport ID page(s), and sponsor statement if applicable. If you have been awarded a graduate certificate, you must submit the Calculation Sheet for Graduate Students after it is signed by the Graduate Studies Office. You will receive a new I-20 five business days from complete submission.
An F-1 student can be enrolled in two different SEVP-approved schools at the same time, as long as the combined enrollment amounts to a full-time course of study: 12 credits for undergraduate students, 9 credits for graduate students. The majority of your coursework must be at UMass for the institution to hold your SEVIS record (minimum of six credits).
To receive permission to be concurrently enrolled, you must apply to the ISSO and you must be enrolled full-time by the end of add/drop at UMass Boston for SEVIS registration purposes. Submit this form and proof of enrollment at another SEVP-approved school.
NOTE: You should seek prior transfer credit approval for any courses taken at another institution.
Traveling Outside the U.S. & Re-entry in F-1 Status (Please be aware that the ISSO advises on US immigration policy only and has no information or expertise on the immigration policies of other nations.)
If you plan to leave the U.S. to visit another country, you must have the following documents in order to return to the U.S.:
- Valid passport: your passport should be valid at least six months into the future. You can usually renew your passport at your country’s embassy in the U.S.
- Valid U.S. visa stamp: If your visa has expired, and you are traveling outside of North America (Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands excluded), you must renew your visa to return to the U.S. Do NOT re-enter on a visa other than your F-1 student visa. You should renew your F-1 student visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate abroad.
- A Valid Form I-20: You must have a valid Form I-20 with a valid travel signature (found on page 2 on the Form I-20). Once signed, the travel signature is good for one year after the date signed.
NOTE: If you are traveling to a country other than your own, you need to check with that country’s embassy/consulate to see if you need a visa in order to enter.
Post-completion OPT students: If you have completed your studies, you should NOT travel while pending OPT employment authorization (Employment Authorization Document (EAD)). Once you receive your EAD card you may travel and re-enter if you:
- have a valid U.S. visa
- have proof of employment and
- have a valid EAD card.
If you do not have a valid U.S. visa, we do not recommend travel if you have little OPT time remaining, as visa renewal could be difficult at that point.
Form I-20 Travel Signature Requests
Before every school break the ISSO receives hundreds of requests for I-20 travel endorsements. Students will receive multiple email reminders about travel signatures prior to summer and winter breaks and have ample time to make this work request. According to immigration regulation, each signature that the ISSO provides on a Form I-20 verifies that the student is enrolled full-time and is in good academic standing with the institution.
Should you neglect to request a signature in a timely manner, you have the following options:
- Leave your I-20 with the ISSO and organize a courier pick-up via our eShipGlobal Service. See instructions for ordering a pick-up below.
- Leave your I-20 and sign a FERPA permission form for a friend/relative to pick-up for you and mail to you. Inform the Front Desk that you need a 3rd Party Pick-Up Form when you drop off your I-20. Sign it and leave with ISSO receptionist.
- Leave the U.S. with your unsigned I-20: Upon your return, you will most likely be issued an I-515A form. This form requires that you bring the form and your immigration documents to the ISSO immediately for processing with USCIS. Be aware that admission to the U.S. is not guaranteed.
Travel to Canada/Mexico/Islands – Automatic Visa Revalidation
Documents required for travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are slightly different than the rest of the world. Most importantly, you DO NOT need a valid U.S. visa stamp to return to the U.S. if your visit to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands (except Cuba) is under than 30 days. This process is known as “automatic visa revalidation” and applies to all individuals. Boston being relatively close to Canada, this is popular vacation spot. The following documents are needed for travel to Canada:
- Copy of electronic I-94 card: you can print a copy on the Customs & Border Protection website;
- Passport valid six months into the future;
- Valid Form I-20 with a valid travel signature;
- Tourist visa (applies only to certain countries). Citizens of certain countries are required to have a tourist visa (Temporary Resident Visa) in order to visit Canada. Visit the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website for more information.
Important reminder regarding renewing visas in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean
Automatic revalidation is not available for anyone who applies for a U.S. visa in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands. Therefore, any student from ANY country who applies for a visa and who is denied, will NOT be able to return to the U.S. He or she will have to travel home and apply for a new F-1 visa. As a result, it is now very risky to apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico. The ISSO strongly discourages students from visa renewal in a 3rd party country in general.
To be eligible for a SSN you must have written proof that you have been hired by an on- or off-campus employer, or that you are on an approved period of practical training.
In order to apply for a SSN, students must request a SSN letter from the ISSO, which will be taken to the Social Security Administration Office along with all of your immigration documents. When you apply for the SSN you will be given a receipt. You can begin working once you have the receipt.
NOTE: Entering the U.S. in F-1 status declares to Customs & Border Protection that your purpose for entering the US is academic. F-1 students are not here to work; having said that, there are limited off-campus employment opportunities for F-1 students that relate to their degree specialization. Spouses and Children of F-1 International Students are classified as F-2 dependents. No paid employment of any kind is permitted to F-2 dependents.
On-Campus Work Employment
Please see our Employment of a Visa page for more specifics about employment on a non-immigrant visa.
Students may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the fall and spring semesters and full-time (up to 40 hours per week) during winter and summer breaks if they are in good academic standing, and have been enrolled full-time. Information about jobs on campus can be found at the Student Employment Office on the 4th floor of the Campus Center.
PLEASE NOTE: F-1 international students are not eligible for federally funded “work study” positions. Federal assistance of this nature is only granted to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
If you have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (two semesters) you are eligible to do an off-campus internship, independent study or practicum. Not all students have internships available to them in their programs. Internships, if available, can be identified in the course catalog and must be approved by your department and the ISSO before employment begins. Working without employment authorization is a violation of status. CPT is a course and it is exclusively for course credit or form completing a degree requirement. CPT is not to be used for simply "a job". Students wishing simply to work, may activate their OPT (which does not require a curricular component) after being full time for one academic year, but this work MUST be related to the students degree. The CPT Application is on our Forms page.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
When you are nearing the completion of your program of study, you may apply to USCIS for 12 months of Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization to accept employment related to your field of study. To receive an OPT-endorsed I-20 from the ISSO, you must attend a mandatory OPT workshop to learn more about employment authorization in the U.S. in F-1 status. It is not common, but possible, for students to begin OPT (Pre-Completion OPT) on a part-time basis after they have been enrolled full-time for two semesters. If you are unable to receive internship authorization (CPT), you may activate your OPT employment authorization. To see a schedule of the upcoming OPT workshop series, visit the Employment of a Visa page. OPT has many rules and can be confusing. You will thoroughly review all aspects of this F-1 benefit in a workshop.
Students who file for a leave of absence (LOA) with the Registrar must depart the US within 15 days after SEVIS termination. "Fifteen days" is not regulatory but is generally considered and 'acceptable' period of time to prepare for departure. Remaining in the US while on a LOA is a violation of status.
To file for an immigration leave of absence, submit a signed copy of the undergraduate or graduate withdrawal request with a Voluntary SEVIS Termination request. The ISSO will record your withdrawal in SEVIS. Graduate students: speak with your program advisors before withdrawing, you may have the better option to pay program fee.
When you plan to return to UMass Boston, you will apply for readmittance to the university. Once re-admitted you may work with an ISSO international admissions specialist to receive new immigration papers.
An important consideration in taking a LOA: USCIS regulations state that an F-1 international student must complete a full academic year (9 months) to be eligible for CPT and OPT. Students who take a leave of absence will be required to be full-time again for at least nine months before being eligible for any off-campus work benefits.
Medical Leave of Absence: If you become ill, you may reduce your credit hours to 6 credit hours - or take zero credits at all for up to 12 months. Medical RCL is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis.
- Students must provide a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist.
- If cases of pregnancy, a student would need a letter from a licensed doctor proving at least one of the following:
- A medical reason other than pregnancy (which is not recognized as a medical illness);
- A high risk pregnancy;
- A due date during the semester (the six week recovery period following labor is recognized);
- Any other relevant medical reason(s).
To apply for a Medical Leave of Absence/Medical Reduced Course Load see an immigration advisor and bring this completed form with a doctor’s letter. The letter must specifically state that the student is unable to maintain full-time status.
F-1 Students on an approved study abroad program are considered to be enrolled as full-time students at UMass Boston and may use their same I-20 when re-entering the US as long as it has been signed within the last year. It is very important that F-1 students doing study abroad in their final semester discuss how study abroad effects OPT application procedures before leaving the U.S.
If you withdraw from UMass Boston and wish to return, you will need to apply for readmission. You must be re-admitted to the university before you can work with an immigration advisor to obtain new visa documents. DO NOT CONTACT THE ISSO UNTIL YOUR READMISSION HAS BEEN PROCESSED BY THE REGISTRAR. We cannot issue you a new I-20 until you are again ACTIVE in the UMass Boston internal database, WISER.
For questions regarding the readmission process, undergraduates and graduates should contact the Registrar's Office.
Once you've been readmitted, you must submit a new DCF Form with a copy of your passport to the immigration office and arrange for document pick-up with the front desk. You are required to report to the ISSO for immigration check-in once you arrive. Failure to do so will result in SEVIS termination.
F-1 international students may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days following the program completion date listed in item #5 on the Form I-20. The program completion date represents the date when a student has finished all coursework necessary to complete the degree requirements. Please note that the program end date is not the same as graduation date and that it could be shorter or longer that the date originally assigned to you by the admissions office.
In many cases a student may finish all degree requirements significantly before the date on the Form I-20. If you will finish your program before the end date on your current Form I-20, you must inform the ISSO to have your program information updated.
Students finishing post-completion OPT may also remain in the U.S. for 60 days following the expiration date of their authorized OPT training period.
During your 60 day grace period:
- You may not exit and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status ;
- You may not apply for a program extension;
- You may not work or study.
IMPORTANT: If you leave the U.S. during your grace period, your F-1 status ends, and you are no longer eligible for any benefit based on your F-1 student status, including applying for OPT. Once you depart the United States you will not be allowed to re-enter in F-1 status.
Please review our information page of US driver's licenses here.
Did you receive PAY in the year 2017? If so, please contact us for a WINDSTAR access code to complete your taxes. If you DID NOT receive pay, then you must complete and submit a form 8843. See sample guidelines and instructions here. Please also review our TAX FAQs.
Online Tax Software
The University of Massachusetts Boston purchases a license for Windstar, a tax software package that will assist students with completing federal tax returns. The software will walk you through completing the necessary forms for state and federal tax filings. Access to this software is for a fee. There are limited codes that the ISSO issues. The code request form may be downloaded here or you may fill one out at the front desk. Payment may be made at the front desk. After submitted to the front desk you will receive your code and instructions within 5 business days.
NOTE: Staff at International Student & Scholar Office (ISSO) is not trained or licensed to answer questions concerning your tax returns or offer tax advice. We are providing a TAX FAQ sheet and additional in-person resources for questions you may have.
Residents & Non-Residents for Tax Purposes
The IRS divides everyone into two categories for tax purposes - resident and nonresident:
- Residents: all U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (“green card” holders), and nonresident aliens for immigration purposes who have met the Substantial Presence Test (see below).
- Nonresident aliens: all others, regardless of immigration status.
The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) is how the IRS determines when nonresident aliens have been in the United States long enough to be considered residents for tax purposes. One must be present in the United States for a total of 183 days over a period of 3 years to pass the SPT and be considered a resident for tax purposes, however, individuals in F, J, M, or Q status do not count days during the time they are “exempt individuals.”
The rules for “exempt individuals” are:
- F, J, or M students and their dependents are “exempt individuals” for a period of five years throughout their lifetime
During the time individuals in F, J, or M status are “exempt individuals,” they will remain nonresidents for tax purposes even though they are present in the United States for more than 183 days. Once they leave “exempt individual” status, days of presence will be counted and they may become a resident alien for tax purposes. The Substantial Presence Test is detailed more fully in IRS Publication 519.
You must have either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to complete all tax forms except Form 8843.
Social Security Numbers (SSNs)
For information regarding obtaining a Social Security number, please see the section on “Obtaining a Social Security Number.”
The IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. The ITIN is a nine digit, tax processing number issued by the IRS. ITINs are not valid identification outside of the tax system. By law, an individual cannot have both an ITIN and an SSN. For information on obtaining an ITIN Number please visit the IRS website.
Department of Homeland Security allows F-1 students to enroll in one (1) online course or three (3) credits per semester. Only 3 credits can be used toward the full-time enrollment requirement. For example, if you are an undergraduate student, you may take 3 online credits and 9 in-class credits for a total of 12 credits. Once you have reached the 12 credits you may take additional online credits if you wish. If you are a graduate student, you may take 3 online credits and 6 in-class credits for a total of 9 credits. Once you have reached the 9 credits you may take additional online credits if you wish. You MAY NOT finish final degree requirements with online credits. (If you decide to return home and take online courses from your home country, please advise the International Student & Scholar Services Office prior to registration.). You will no longer be an F-1 student but rather a distance learner as an online student.
A visa in your passport issued by a U.S. consulate does not determine how long you can remain in the United States. Therefore, you may stay in the U. S. beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as the visa document (Form I-20, Form DS-2019) remains valid. Once the visa expires it will be necessary to apply for a new visa stamp if you exit the US and want to return, through the same process as your initial visa application, at a U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling outside the United States.
- It is not possible to renew a visa in the United States. Visas are issued only by a U.S. consular post or a U.S. embassy or outside the United States.
- If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands (list here), you do NOT need to apply for a new visa, you may re-enter the United States under "Automatic Revalidation" as long as your trip is less than 30 days.
- To find out what your consulate/embassy requires and what the wait time is, please look up your consulate.
If your U.S. visa has expired and you travel outside the U.S., you must obtain a new visa before you return. Applying for a new visa usually requires several weeks so you must plan your travel accordingly. If you are from one of the countries now requiring additional name check/security screening or in a high technology or technologically sensitive field, you may be subject to processing delays of 4-12 weeks.