Q: How do I get an F-1 visa?
A: The procedures at each U.S. embassy or consulate can vary, so it is important to consult the official website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for the visa. The general process is to get your I-20 from Calvin (after being admitted, clearing financial review, completing the immigration questionnaire on your timeline, and taking the final step of paying your deposit). Then you use the I-20 to complete the DS-160 and schedule an appointment. Submit any additional documents your U.S. embassy or consulate requests, and finally attend your visa appointment. If you are approved for a visa, you will receive it within one week of the appointment. Full instructions are available at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/student-visa.html
Q: Can I renew my visa without leaving the United States?
A: No. You must depart the U.S. if you want a new visa.
Q: What is “automatic visa renewal?”
A: You may travel to Canada, Mexico, or certain nearby islands and return to the U.S. even if your visa has expired. To qualify, no part of your trip may be outside countries found on the official list. This does NOT grant you a new visa; your visa will still be expired when you reenter the U.S. Taking this option always involves risk; if you are able to get a new visa instead, it is generally safest to do so. More information is available at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visa-expiration-date/auto-revalidate.html
Q: My visa expires soon. What should I do?
A: You only need a valid visa to enter and reenter the U.S. It is okay if your visa expires while you are studying. The next time you travel outside the U.S., you will need to get a new F-1 visa before you return. Be sure to book a visa appointment ahead of time and leave enough time to get your passport back before your return flight. The U.S. embassy or consulate policy is to return your passport to you with the new visa no more than one week after your interview, so it is best not to schedule a flight sooner than one week after the interview.