Continuing UCSD international students who are traveling outside the USA and have expired visas, or have changed status while in the USA must apply for a new visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad in order to reenter the USA.
All visa applications also require a face-to-face interview with a US consular officer. The visa application process can take up to 6-8 weeks, so plan accordingly. The earliest that an F-1 visa can be granted is 120 days before the reporting date listed on your SEVIS Form. You may apply for an F-1 visa earlier than 120 days before the start date to allow for visa processing and security clearance delays, however, the consulate cannot actually issue the visa until 120 days before the program start date.
Prior to your visa appointment, consult the website for the U.S. embassy or consulate that you will visit. Go to the Nonimmigrant Visa section and follow the instructions. Many people are denied visas when they are unprepared.
Based on information received from various consular officers, the following are recommendations to prepare for your visa interview:
Some factors that might work against you in the mind of the consular officer are:
If you are denied a visa, you will be informed of the reason for the denial and be given the opportunity to reappear if you can provide additional evidence to support your case.
Note: Nationals of certain countries, and all internationals whose area of study has been deemed sensitive by the US Department of Homeland Security, will have their names submitted for a special security clearance procedure that may take up to 4-6 weeks before a visa is issued. Disciplines such as nuclear technology, chemical and biotechnology engineering, and advanced computer or microelectronic technology, as well as a broad range of engineering and physical sciences are on the "Technology Alert List." Students in these fields should expect delays in obtaining visas at consulates abroad.
Before reapplying, be sure you understand the grounds for your denial so that you can appeal effectively. Contact the UCSD International Center if you need additional assistance.
International students are strongly encouraged to apply for a visa in their home country because they may have difficulty getting a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate in a country other than their own.
In general, the following individuals are eligible to apply for a visa renewal as Third Country Nationals (TCN):
The following individuals are strongly discouraged from applying for a visa renewal as Third Country Nationals because there may be a high risk of denial:
International students who are not citizens of Canada, but who wish to apply for visas in Canada, should meet their International Student Advisor to discuss their plans. Students subject to special security clearances are not eligible for reentry into the USA until this process is complete. Please consider the delays that security checks may cause and plan accordingly.
The U.S. consular posts in Canada recently announced new appointment procedures, which took effect as of September 1, 2010, for applicants applying for nonimmigrant visas.
An applicant will need the following prior to scheduling a visa appointment:
Another significant change at most of the U.S. consular posts in Canada is that passports with visas will be returned to the applicant via courier. The courier service is provided through DHL, at no additional cost to the applicant.
For more information, visit U.S. Visa Service: Canada.
International students who are not citizens of Mexico, but who wish to apply for visas in Mexico, should meet their International Student Advisor to discuss their plans. Students subject to special security clearances are not eligible for reentry into the USA until this process is complete. Please consider the delays that security checks may cause and plan accordingly.
All U.S. consulates in Mexico do not accept TCN applications for changes of status, only for renewals for expired visas in the same status you entered the U.S. in.
For example, if your F-1 visa stamp has expired and you would like to apply for a new F-1 visa stamp, you may be eligible to apply in Mexico. However, if you entered the U.S. in J-1 status then changed to F-1 status, you may not apply for an F-1 visa in Mexico.
For more information, visit Mexican Embassy: Non-Immigrant Visas.
When traveling to a third country (other than your home country or the USA), remember that a new set of laws will be in effect. You are likely to need a visa to enter that country.
To learn more about visa requirements, contact the country's closest consulate in the USA.