International Student

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Visa


Have there been any recent changes in visa issuances at U.S. consulates?

A: No new laws have been made, but you should expect that applications will now be going through an extensive screening process. Some embassies no longer offer "mail-in" services and will now only allow appointments to be scheduled to process applications. Some embassies have closed in certain countries. Delays can be expected to take six - eight weeks. Due to the delays, please allow yourself ample time for the application processing when planning to travel.

If my visa expires, how do I renew it?

A: The visa is an entry document only. The visa needs to be valid only at the time you enter the U.S.  It does not need to be renewed if you stay in the U.S.  However, you may wish to visit Canada, Mexico, or your home country during vacation periods. If your visa has expired, ask your  International Student Advisor to provide complete information about how to renew your visa. You may then apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.

If I cannot complete my studies in the required time, may I stay longer?

A: If you need a longer time to complete your studies, an  International Student Advisor at the International Center will help you apply for an extension. If you have completed your studies, you are not allowed to continue to stay in the U.S. with that I-20, even if it has not expired.

How long can I stay in the United States?

A: The I-20 indicates the length of time you can stay to finish your course of studies.  You may stay 60 days after the last day of class.
(J-1 DS 2019 may stay 30 days).

What are my obligations as a student on an F-1 visa?


Students on an F-1 visa must follow the regulations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to these regulations, you must:

  • upon arrival, attend a check-in session, call 808-356-5299 for dates. Please bring your passport, I-94 card, form I-20, proof of health insurance.  Provide your address in the U.S.
  • register for classes at the university which issued the I-20
  • be enrolled as a full-time student while you are in the U.S. (undergraduate- 12 credits, graduate- 9 credits)
  • follow the required procedures before requesting permission to work off-campus.
  • request assistance from your International Student Advisor if you wish to transfer from one university to another.

To find out how applications in your home country are being processed, access the U.S. Department of State Web site: and select a particular consulate office. This site will also list travel advisory warnings, if any.


What documents should I have ready to show when I am applying for a visa renewal?


You will need to go through the same process as if you are applying for a student visa for the first time.

You will need:

  1. Unexpired passport
  2. New SEVIS I-20 – complete with 3 pages intact
  3. Current financial support documents
  4. Recent transcripts
  5. Registration for the next available term
  6. **A verification of enrollment from the Registrar’s office or Center for Graduate Studies**

** Not required but suggested**

Transcripts are not usually required, but may help your application. The consulars would like you to
 prove that your visit to the U.S. is temporary, that you have no intention of abandoning your citizenship in
your home country. They would also like to make sure that you are traveling to the U.S. for the purposes that you have indicated.


How do I apply for permission to transfer schools?

A: You must be a full time student in good academic standing. You must notify your current school of your intent to transfer. You must ask the school that you plan on attending to accept you into their institution, and issue you a new Form I-20. You must sign and date the I-20 and give it to your new designated school official (DSO) within 15 days of transferring. The designated school official (DSO) should give you 3 pages, and forward a copy of the new I-20 to your prior school.

What is SEVIS?

A: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which provides tracking, monitoring, and access to accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa) and exchange visitors (J visa). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit electronic information and event notifications via the Internet to the USICE and the Department of State throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States. SEVIS allows for the printing of appropriate forms and provides reminders, alerts, and basic reporting capabilities. SEVIS is a source of timely and accurate information for educational institutions and government agencies which are tasked with assisting and overseeing the many international visitors who have chosen to pursue an education in this country.

What is the USICE?

A: On March 1, 2003, functions of several border and security agencies including the U.S. Customs Service, Federal Protective Service (FPS), and former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) were transferred into the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security within the Department of Homeland Security. As part of this transition, these agency functions were reorganized into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE).

What is the USCIS?

A: USCIS is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. USCIS is the sector that will process and adjudicate all applications for benefits submitted by nonimmigrants. USCIS falls under the new Department of Homeland Security.

What is the USCBP?

A: USCBP is the United States Customs and Border Protection. On March 1, 2003, the border inspection functions of the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, along with the U.S. Border Patrol, were transferred to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What is the Department of Homeland Security?

A: In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against America on September 11th, 2001, President George W. Bush decided 22 previously disparate domestic agencies needed to be coordinated into one department to protect the nation against threats to the homeland. The new department's first priority is to protect the nation against further terrorist attacks. Component agencies will analyze threats and intelligence, guard our borders and airports, protect our critical infrastructure, and coordinate the response of our nation for future emergencies.

Travel and Visa Issues

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, we have all become more concerned with immigration, travel and visa issues.

We have compiled the following questions and answers to help students as they make travel plans or prepare to renew their visas. 

Q: If I am not completed with my studies, can I travel outside the United States?
A: Students may leave the United States and be readmitted after absences of five months or less. Upon your return to the United States, you should provide immigration inspectors with:
  • A valid passport.
  • A valid F-1 entry visa stamped in the passport.
  • A current SEVIS Form I-20 signed by the International Student Advisor on page 3 for re-entry.
  • A new SEVIS Form I-20 if there have been any changes in your course of study or place of study (i.e. change in major, change in program, change in name, any typographical errors, etc.)
  • Proof of your financial support.

When making your travel plans, please remember that you must be a full-time student to keep your F-1 student status.

If you have any questions regarding travel issues, please make an appointment to see an International Student Advisor.

Q: If I am traveling to another state, do I need to have my I-20 signed before I leave?
A: You will need to receive a re-entry signature on page 3 of your SEVIS I-20 ONLY if you have traveled outside of the United States and re-entered with your SEVIS I-20. That signature can be obtained by visiting International Student Services at least 9 business days before you depart.
Q: How long is the re-entry signature on page 3 of my I-20 valid?
A: The re-entry signature is valid for 12 months while you are pursuing your studies full-time. However, once you are on OPT the signature will need to be updated after six (6) months.
Q: What documents should international students carry when they are traveling within the U.S.?
A: You should have your passport, I-20, and a student or state ID or driver’s license to show for identification. If applicable, you will want to use your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, too. Airlines/airports now require that you carry a government issued photo ID.
Q: Does the expiration date on a student visa determine how long the student can remain in the U.S.?
A: Although many people believe that the visa expiration date determines when they must depart the U.S., this is NOT true. The visa is used as an entry document to the U.S., accompanying your I-20 and passport. The expiration date on your visa determines the LAST DATE YOU MAY ENTER THE U.S. on that visa, along with other required documents. If your visa expires while you are still in the U.S. and studying full-time, maintaining your F-1 status, you are not in violation of status. However, if you leave the U.S. after that visa expires, you will be required to obtain a new visa before being allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Q: If my visa is expired, can I go to Mexico or Canada?
A: YES. If you are planning on visiting Mexico or Canada for less than 30 days, you can re-enter the U.S. with your expired visa. You can re-enter using the "Automatic Visa Revalidation" process. Show them your form I-94 card, passport, and visa, and you will be allowed to re-enter. International Student Services provides a letter of the process for students traveling. This letter can be picked up at the front desk in the Career Services Center. If you plan to try to apply for a new visa during your visit and you are denied, you will not be allowed to re-entry by "Automatic Visa Revalidation" process, you will have to return home and apply for a new visa.


Q: How do I find out my authorized period to stay in the U.S.?
A: The white form I-94 card, usually stapled next to your visa, will have a stamp on it. The stamp should say, "F-1, D/S." D/S means "Duration of Status," or while you are studying full-time. As long as you are fulfilling your F-1 requirements, you are in the U.S. legally.