A U.S. visa allows you to enter the United States and remain in the country for a pre-determined length of time. Once your visa expires, however, you may be required to return to your home country. If you wish to return to the United States, then you will need to renew your visa.
Some U.S. visas can be renewed when you’re inside the United States. Other visas cannot be renewed, and you may need to return to your home country and repeat the application process before returning to America. Some immigrants and non-immigrants may wish to change their status. Your visa’s renewal status depends on the type of visa you hold.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about the U.S. visa renewal process and how it works.
How Does a Renewed U.S. Visa Work?
A renewed U.S. visa works in an identical way to your original visa. Your non-immigrant U.S. visa expires, and you renew your visa to obtain a new visa within the same category. The renewed visa does not have different conditions or requirements than the original visa.
The things you’re allowed to do with a renewed U.S. visa depend entirely on the type of visa you hold. Workers in the United States holding a renewed H-1B visa, for example, are allowed to work and apply for a Green Card. Workers in the United States on a B-1 or B-2 visa, meanwhile, are allowed to visit the United States temporarily for business or pleasure.
When Do I Have to Renew My Visa?
You have to renew your visa once the validity period expires. All U.S. visas have an expiry date stamped directly on the visa. When that expiry date has passed, you need to renew your visa.
Your visa expiry date is typically different from the expiry date on your passport. It’s important not to confuse the two. Your visa expires when the expiration date on your visa says it expires or until your passport expires – whichever comes first.
You also need to renew your visa if you have a valid passport, but your passport has expired. Your visa is valid until the visa’s date of expiry or until your passport’s date of expiry. Typically, however, the visa’s expiry date will not occur after the passport’s expiry date.
If you are approved for a renewed U.S. visa, then that renewed visa will have its own expiry date. You need to follow the same rules for that expiry date: you need to leave the country before that date. Some renewed visas allow you to renew the visa an unlimited number of times. Other renewed visas do not allow further renewals: you can only renew the visa once.
Visa Renewal Requirements
You may need to meet certain qualifications prior to renewing your visa. Those qualifications include:
- You must renew the visa that you previously had; you cannot have a B-1 visa and “renew” an H-1B visa, for example, and you cannot change visa types when renewing
- You must not have been previously denied for a U.S. visa; if your visa was issued, and you applied for a different visa and the U.S. embassy denied it, then you cannot apply to renew your expired visa
- The visa you wish to renew must be valid for multiple entries into the United States (look for an “M” on your visa that indicates multiple entries)
- The visa you wish to renew must be valid for longer than one year; you cannot renew a visa that has an expiry date sooner than one year
- You must fulfill all requirements for the visa you wish to renew; individual requirements vary for each visa, but you need to meet all requirements in order to qualify for a visa renewal; failure to meet any of these requirements will prevent your visa from being accepted.
- Most visa renewal applications must be filed from within your home country; once your visa expires, you must return to your country of residence and apply for a renewal from there, and you cannot typically have your visa renewed from within the United States
How to Apply for U.S. Visa Renewal
Once you have verified that you meet all of the requirements listed above, you can apply to renew your U.S. visa. In this case, you must follow the following application steps:
Step 1) File Form DS-160: This is the standard form for all non-immigrant visas in the United States. Form DS-160 can be found on the website of your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Complete the page, fill it out accurately, and pay all corresponding fees.
Step 2) Schedule a Visa Interview or Request an Interview Waiver: Some visa applicants may need to schedule a new visa interview even if they have previously completed an interview. Most visa renewal applicants, however, can request a visa interview waiver request. If your waiver request is granted, then you will not have to appear in-person at your nearest U.S. embassy. You will need to mail in supporting documents to prove you are valid for an interview waiver.
Step 3) Submit Supporting Documents: You may be asked to submit supporting documents before your visa renewal is granted. Your supporting documents may be able to be submitted online or by mail. Typical supporting documents required for a visa renewal include a valid passport, previous expired passports, previous expired U.S. visas, new photo that meets the new US visa photo requirements, DS-160 confirmation page, receipts showing that you paid all visa fees, and any other supporting documents that may be required depending on your unique visa (proof of a job offer for a work visa, a marriage certificate for a spousal visa, educational institution information for student visas, etc.)
After going through all of the above steps, your U.S. visa renewal request will be accepted or denied. The U.S. embassy will notify you on the outcome of your renewal request.
How Long Does It Take to Process a U.S. Visa Renewal?
It generally takes much less time to process a U.S. visa renewal compared to a traditional U.S. visa application. Typically, you can expect to receive an answer from the U.S. embassy within 2 to 4 weeks of submitting your application.
Once this processing period is over, your passport and renewed visa will be mailed to your address via courier.
Do I Need to Complete an Interview for a Visa Renewal Application?
Many visa renewal applications can be completed without an in-person interview at a U.S. embassy. Typically, you need to complete an in-person interview the first time you apply for a visa, although this may not be required for all visa renewals.
However, some applicants will need to complete an in-person interview even when renewing a visa. If you meet any of the following requirements, for example, then you may need to complete an in-person interview:
- If you think you might be ineligible for your chosen visa
- If you have had a visa denied in the past
- If you have urgent travel plans within the next 10 days
In all of these situations, you may be required to appear in-person at a U.S. embassy before your visa renewal is accepted or denied.