IMPORTANT: Due to ongoing COVID-19 conditions, visa services at US consulates may be significantly delayed. It is essential to plan ahead if you need to apply for a new visa prior to coming back to the US as visa appointment availability may be limited in many countries. Read more about travel conditions on our COVID-19 Information page.
With the exception of Canadian citizens, international students, scholars, and employees intending on coming to the US to engage in activities at Tufts must obtain a US entry visa prior to entering the US. This applies whether you are making your first entry or already obtained a visa previously. If your current visa will or has expired, you must obtain a new visa if you are outside of the US and want to return to continue your studies, research, or employment at Tufts.
Note: as a rule, Canadian citizens do not need visas to enter the US, but need to present all other supporting documents (including a valid passport, a Form I-20 for F-1 status or Form DS-2019 for J-1 status) to enter the US in an appropriate nonimmigrant status.
It is important to note that a valid US entry visa is only needed to enter the US in nonimmigrant status. Once you are inside the US, your entry visa may expire, as long as your other documents (such as your I-20 or DS-2019) are still valid and unexpired.
Where to Apply for your Visa
Visas are issued only at US consulates located outside the US. You only need a visa if you are outside the US and intending to re-enter the US to continue your study, research, or work. You do not need to have a valid visa if you are already in the US in valid status and are not intending to travel.
Because each US consulate has its own timelines, process, and procedures, you should check the non-immigrant visa application instructions and procedures provided by the US consulate where you will apply for your new visa. In general, you should expect to apply for a new visa at a US consulate in your country of citizenship or permanent residence. Any questions about the visa application process must be directed to the consulate where you are applying for your visa.
Documents to Prepare
The US consulate will give you instructions about visa application fees, forms, and timelines. However, you should be prepared to have at least the following with you when applying for your new visa:
Valid, unexpired passport from your country of citizenship
Updated visa documents
F-1 students: Form I-20 with a valid travel signature not more than one year old on the date of return (or six months old for F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training)
J-1 students and scholars: Form DS-2019 with a valid travel signature not more than one year on the date of return
H-1B employees: Form I-797 Notice of Action confirming H-1B employment approval for Tufts University
Evidence of financial ability, such as copies of your scholarship award letters, bank statements, tuition bill payments, salary statements or paychecks, and other evidence of financial ability
Evidence of full-time enrollment at Tufts or transcript copies (for students)
Confirmation of ongoing employment or research scholar status (for scholars and employees)
CV or resume for scholars and employees
Once you have submitted your visa application, you may need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview. Many interviews last no more than a few minutes. The consular visa officer will inform you about processing times and passport pick-up procedures.
Due to COVID-19, visa appointments may be waived for persons who already have an expired visa in the same category, provided the previous visa expired within the past six months to a year. Consult with the US consulate you plan to visit for instructions to see if a visa appointment will be necessary in your specific situation.
As a part of the visa fee process, you may be asked to pay one or more US visa fees. With the exception of the I-901 SEVIS fee, which is paid online through the I-901 SEVIS Fee web site, visa applicants should follow the instructions of their US consulate in paying the other visa fees.
F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before applying for your first F-1 or J-1 visa
As a rule, the I-901 SEVIS Fee is a one-time fee payment - you do not need to pay the fee for future visa applications as long as you have maintained continuous F-1 or J-1 status
Citizens of certain countries may be required to pay an additional visa reciprocity fee based on visa reciprocity agreements between the US and different countries
The amount varies by country and visa type but can range from zero charge to several thousand dollars
While most visa applicants do not have a visa reciprocity fee charge, checking in advance is strongly advanced
Other Visa Renewal Resources
Frequently Asked Questions about Visas
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I'm a full-time student at Tufts and my I-20 (or DS-2019) is still valid. However, my F-1 visa (or J-1 visa) has expired. Do I have to leave the US?
The entry visa is only needed to enter the US. Once you are already inside the US, it is your I-20 / DS-2019 expiration date and your continued full-time enrollment as a student that matters. However, if you plan to leave the US in the future, you must plan to get a new visa before you return.
Q: My visa is expired. Can I get a new one here in the US?
No. Visas are issued only at US consulates outside of the US. Remember, you only need a new visa if you are outside the US and planning to return to continue your studies, research, or employment. You do not need a valid visa is you are already in the US in valid status.
Q: I'm an F-1 student on post-completion Optional Practical Training. I'm planning to take a trip outside the US, but my visa is going to expire. Can I come back on a tourist visa?
OPT is a benefit of F-1 status. You must have a valid F-1 visa to return to the US in order to continue your practical training period. If you are traveling while waiting for OPT or after your OPT starts, you should plan on applying for a new F-1 visa if your current visa has already expired.
Q: My visa is expiring on June 30, but I'm coming back on June 27. Can I still use my visa?
As long as the visa expiration date has not passed or been canceled, and your purpose of coming back is consistent with the visa (e.g., if you have an F-1 student visa, your purpose of returning to the US must be to continue studies or OPT), you can still use your visa.
Visa Delays and Restrictions
Administrative Processing Delays
In certain recent years, many visa applications have been delayed or rejected due to administrative processing, which occurs when a visa officer is prevented from issuing a visa until additional security background checks are completed.
You will be told by a visa officer when you apply for a visa if your visa application has been selected for administrative processing. While any visa application can be chosen for administrative processing, students and scholars engaged who have or will engage in sensitive research, in particular, should be aware of the possibility that their visas may be selected for additional screening.
Administrative processing delays can vary widely, from a few days to several months. If your visa application has been subjected to administrative processing, please notify the International Center by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide full details such as your name, the US consulate where you applied for your visa, the date of your visa application and visa application number, and any other information you may have been provided during your visa application process or visa interview.
Unfortunately, Tufts does not have the ability to expedite a visa application that is in administrative processing, and we cannot predict a timeline for when your visa will be issued. You must continue to communicate with the US consulate regarding the status of your visa application. However, the International Center can communicate with your department or unit and help you to identify options in case an administrative processing delay interrupts your ability to start or continue your studies, research, or employment at Tufts.