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There can be much confusion over the word “visa” and what to do when it expires. Do you have to go home? Can it be extended? To answer these questions, it is important to know what “visa” you’re talking about.

Visa Status: Visa status is what you have when you are inside the United States. When you are outside the United States, you have no visa status. Students and scholars at Roger Williams University will be either in F-1 status or J-1 status. Their dependents are in F-2 or J-2 status. Your visa status is governed by the dates on your I-20 or DS-2019. The end date is how long your program of study is, and when you are expected to be finished. If you will not be finished with your program by that date, come to the Intercultural Center to speak with your advisor at least 60 days beforehand. After the end date has passed, F-1 students have 60 days to remain in the United States; J-1 students and scholars have 30 days.

Visa Stamp: Your visa stamp is like your entry ticket to the country. You apply for it at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and use it at the port of entry. It is the sticker inside your passport (Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp). Your visa stamp may be good for one entry, two entries or multiple entries. The end date on the stamp is based on reciprocity tables, not on the dates of your I-20 or DS-2019. You may receive a stamp that is good for just a few months or several years. Your stamp is allowed to expire while you are in the United States. It is only needed at the port of entry. However, once you travel outside the country, if your stamp is expired you will have to get a new one.