Skip to content

International Scholar visa FAQ

The answers to these questions are brief and may not cover all situations. Consult the International Scholars Operations (ISO) team or a private immigration attorney whenever you have concerns or need information about your immigration status.

Your “visa” is a stamp the U.S. consulate or embassy places on a page in your passport. This gives you permission to apply for admission to the U.S. at a port of entry. It is not a guarantee that you will be admitted to the U.S. When you travel to a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will decide whether to allow you to enter and how long you may stay. If you are permitted to enter, they will issue you a I-94 Arrival/Departure Record and place an entry stamp in your passport.

Your “status” is the nonimmigrant classification in which you enter the U.S. (for example, J-1, or H-1B).

Since the visa is just an entry document, the expiration dates on the visa and I-94 Record may not match. Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S. and you can still remain in the U.S. as long as your status is still valid. However, if your status (as listed on your most recent I-94 Record) expires, you will probably have to leave the U.S.

If you travel internationally with an expired visa, or if you travel internationally and the visa stamp in your passport does not reflect your current status (for example, you had entered the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, then after graduation changed H-1B status without traveling abroad), you may need to request a new visa at a U.S. consulate before you return.

Note that Canadian citizens are “visa-exempt” and will generally not need a visa stamp in their passport to enter the U.S., but still need a valid status to come to UW for exchange or employment.

If your visa has expired, you may be able to reenter the U.S. under automatic visa revalidation after short trips to Mexico or Canada. However, if you are in Canada or Mexico longer than 30 days, or if you visit countries other than Canada or Mexico, you are not eligible to take advantage of automatic visa revalidation. In these cases you must visit a U.S. consulate and obtain a new visa prior to your return.

No. You may apply for a visa only at a U.S. consulate. Note, however, that the visa stamp in your passport does not need to remain valid while you are in the U.S.

Persons in the U.S. in most nonimmigrant statuses (such as H-1B or J-1) must report their change of address to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days of the change. J-1 exchange visitors must fulfill this requirement by reporting changes of address to ISO.

If your status expires prior to the approval of your change of status, there is a small but significant possibility of removal. For more information, the USCIS has created this information sheet.

If you leave the U.S. while an application for change of status is pending, the change of status application is considered to have been abandoned. If this happens, you may have to leave the U.S. again after the underlying petition is approved and apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad before starting your new status. Discuss your travel plans with ISO before leaving the U.S.