The United States of America is a land of opportunities. It’s a place where dreams come true for everyone. The country has a lot to offer in terms of employment, education, healthcare, and tourism. If you’ve got a valid U.S. visa, consider the world open for you!
The process of getting a U.S. visa is long. You’ve got to address many complexities before the embassy is convinced that you should be given permission to enter the States. Once you get a U.S. visa, the next thing to worry about is what to do after the visa expires. People with U.S. visas often ask how soon they should renew their visas. If you’ve got similar questions in your mind, you’ve come to the right place.
This blog is about helping you understand the U.S. visa renewal process and how soon you should apply for a visa renewal.
What Does It Mean to Have a Valid U.S. Visa?
If you’ve got a valid U.S. visa, you can enter the States anytime during the time your visa is valid. You can visit any place within the United States of America if you’ve got a valid visa. However, if your visa is single-entry, you can enter the States only once. You’ll need a multiple-entry visa if you wish to visit the United States of America multiple times. A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter the country multiple times during the time your visa is valid.
A U.S. visit visa is valid for 10 years from the date of issue, and you can stay in the U.S. for 180 days on that visit visa. The duration and validity of a U.S. visa depend on the type of visa you’ve got. The validity and the duration you can stay in the country vary for a tourist visa, business visa, student visa, etc.
How Soon Should You Renew Your U.S. Visa?
If your visa is nearing the expiry date, know that you can’t stay in the U.S. past that date. Let’s say you left the country before the visa expired, but it expires before you re-enter; you’ll need to get your visa renewed to re-enter the States.
The best practice is to apply for visa renewal before your current visa expires. This ensures that you don’t have to worry about your visa expiring and you having to wait to receive a new visa. However, to apply for a U.S. visa renewal, you’ve got to be in your home country. You can’t apply for U.S. visa renewal while you’re in the U.S.
Coming to the question of how soon you should renew your U.S. visa, the answer is that if your visa has expired, you can apply for a visa renewal within 48 months (4 years). After this period, you’ll have to apply for a new visa altogether. In some cases, visas older than 48 months are also renewed, but you shouldn’t wait for the grace period to end. If you intend to visit the United States in the future, it’s best to apply for renewal sooner. The validity of a basic visitor visa is 10 years, which means once you get your visa renewed, you can visit the U.S. any time during the 10 years.
U.S. Visa Renewal Eligibility Criteria
Not everyone with an expired U.S. visa is eligible for renewal. As we said in the beginning, the process of getting a U.S. visa is quite complicated.
If your current U.S. visa has expired and you wish to apply for renewal, know that you can apply for U.S. visa renewal only if:
- You want to renew the same type of visa you had. For example, if your visitor visa expires, you can only get a renewed one.
- The U.S. embassy didn’t reject your application for another U.S. visa. For example, your application for a spouse visa was rejected. In that case, you can’t apply for the renewal of a visa that has expired or is about to expire.
- You fulfill all the requirements of the visa type you’re getting renewed.
- You’re in your home country.
- Your visa expired within 48 months. If your visa expired more than 48 months ago, you can’t get it renewed. In some cases, the embassy does entertain visa renewals of visas that expired more than 48 months ago.
What Do You Need for U.S. Visa Renewal?
The requirements for U.S. visa renewal are pretty much the same as that of a new visa. If you fail to fulfill these requirements, the embassy can decline your visa renewal application.
You’ll need to submit the following at the time of U.S. visa renewal:
- A valid passport that isn’t expiring within 6 months of the date you intend to travel to the U.S.
- Your old passport with the expired U.S. visa.
- Two passport-sized photographs that meet the U.S. visa photo requirements.
- A copy of the Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- The receipt, shows you’ve paid the visa renewal fee.
Plus, any other documents that are required for the visa you want to renew.
U.S. Visa Renewal Process
Applying for U.S. visa renewal isn’t very difficult, as you’ve already gone through the process once and convinced the consulate of your legitimacy and intentions. An outline of the process is as follows:
- Fill the Form DS-160 online and save the confirmation page. You’ll need it at the time of the interview.
- Schedule a date and time for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Pay the visa renewal fee.
- Submit all the required documents depending on the visa type you’re getting renewed.
- Appear for your interview with a hard copy of the Form DS-160 confirmation page on the scheduled time and date.
There’s no room for deception in the visa process. Any attempts to deceive the U.S. embassy will result in a permanent ban on entering the United States of America. Also, you’ve got to fill the Form DS-160 very carefully. You can’t make any mistakes.
To make sure you don’t end up risking your chance to visit the U.S. again, it’s always better to have a lawyer assist you through the process.
You can also visit our legal blog, Spirit One, for more assistance regarding U.S. visas.