Your passport is the basic travel document issued by your home country to identify you as a citizen or national of that country, and which permits you to return to your country. For purposes of U.S. immigration law, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the period of your approved stay in the United States. Many (94) countries have agreements with the United States providing that their passports are actually valid for six months beyond the date indicated in the passport. In those cases, the approved stay in the United States can be valid up to the expiration date on the passport. The International Student Advisor has a list of these countries.
When your passport needs to be extended, contact your home country embassy to apply for a new one. Information on foreign embassies in the U.S. can be found at www.embassy.org.
The international student advisor can provide you with a letter stating that you are a registered student, if such a document is necessary for passport extension. Canadian citizens are exempt from passport requirements.
Your United States visa is the stamp placed on a page of your passport by a U.S. consular officer. The visa stamp, if presented with supporting documents (Form I-20 and financial documentation), gives you permission to apply for entry to the United States. It is not to be confused with your permission to remain in the United States, and, in fact, it has no relation to the period of time of your approved stay in the United States. Some visas are valid for one month and one entry, some for as long as six years and unlimited entries. The visa must be valid at the time of entry to the United States; it need not be valid for you to remain in the United States. For information on visa application requirements and procedures at U.S. consulates, see http://travel.state.gov.
NOTE: Any student applying for a visa with an I-20 dated September 1, 2004 or later must pay a SEVIS fee of $200 before applying for the visa, and must present proof of this payment at the time of visa application. For information on paying this fee, please consult the SEVIS Fact Sheet.