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I noticed that the dates written on my I-20 aren't the same as the offer I received. My official offer letter states that I would be fully funded for 6 years (the program runs for six years) but my I-20 only spans 5 years. Is this normal? Shouldn't my I-20 dates match the program length? I'm wondering if there might be a limitation to the number of years the I-20 can be issued. Any comments would be appreciated :)

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Contact your International Office, they'll be able to help you with this. As far as I know, your final date can be extended by the International Office anyway. I

I do think I read somewhere that the maximum time of a visa has (sometimes, for some visas) also something to do with bilateral agreements between countries. For example, my boyfriend could get a 2 year visa when he came to study in my country (Europe, he's from Asia) whereas my Mexican classmate had to renew it after a year as he could get a visa for max a year.

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I'm in the same situation as you. I asked my department about this and it's a relatively common thing - they'll just write a renewal letter for you. I read somewhere about the maximum length of time for an F-1 visa being 5 years, but don't quote me on that.

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The letter is issued by the university, the I-20 by the US. Since it's a migration document, it doesn't need to match. My I-20, for example, runs longer than my program! The most important aspect of the I-20 is having it is signed. If your I-20 is not signed properly and periodically, you may not get into the US no matter how long the document is valid for. 

When I was away doing research, for example, I couldn't get it signed every semester because I was abroad. As a result, for returning, my university issued a second I-20 that they sent to my research site. 

The visa is a different thing and, yes, they can be of different lengths. Actually, I recently renewed my visa because I got a 6th year fellowship and they gave it to me for five more years, even though I only showed evidence of funding for one. 

So there you have it: program, I-20, and visa with different dates. What's important is that at the moment of entering the US you have a valid visa, a recently signed I-20, and a passport valid 6 months into the future. 

*disclaimer: I am not an immigration expert, I just have 6 years of experience. YMMV*

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That's really informative! I was wondering about the back of the document too. I'll definitely keep up with the signing. By the way, did you have to pay another 4-500 dollars for the new visa? I guess that isn't a whole lot if it is only renewed once. 

Edited by youngim

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On 7/7/2018 at 10:22 AM, Psygeek said:

Contact your International Office, they'll be able to help you with this. As far as I know, your final date can be extended by the International Office anyway. I

I do think I read somewhere that the maximum time of a visa has (sometimes, for some visas) also something to do with bilateral agreements between countries. For example, my boyfriend could get a 2 year visa when he came to study in my country (Europe, he's from Asia) whereas my Mexican classmate had to renew it after a year as he could get a visa for max a year.

Not that you're implying otherwise, but as a general note, in the US, the visa and right of stay are not the same thing, so the length of your visa and your duration of status don't necessarily have to match up. In the US, your visa stamp is just needed to enter the country, whereas the document that permits you to legally be in the US is the I-20. So as long as you're not exiting the US, you don't need to renew the visa.

Also, you can definitely renew an F1 after 5 years. There is no limit to how long you can be in the US on F1 as long as you are in status (i.e. your I-20 is current).

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3 hours ago, ExponentialDecay said:

In the US, your visa stamp is just needed to enter the country, whereas the document that permits you to legally be in the US is the I-20. So as long as you're not exiting the US, you don't need to renew the visa.

So does this mean I need to go through a separate process to visit my home country and reenter the U.S. or would an up to date/signed I-20 and visa on my passport be sufficient when reentering the States? 

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2 hours ago, youngim said:

So does this mean I need to go through a separate process to visit my home country and reenter the U.S. or would an up to date/signed I-20 and visa on my passport be sufficient when reentering the States? 

You need to demonstrate an current visa stamp and current I-20 in order to enter the US. To remain in status in the US, you just need a current I-20. I'm not sure what you mean by a separate process so I can't answer that question, sorry.

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On 7/25/2018 at 9:53 AM, youngim said:

That's really informative! I was wondering about the back of the document too. I'll definitely keep up with the signing. By the way, did you have to pay another 4-500 dollars for the new visa? I guess that isn't a whole lot if it is only renewed once. 

Renewing the visa today means going through the whole hassle again, including traveling to your country. As long as the I-20 is current, you won't need to renew. 

 

On 7/25/2018 at 2:23 PM, youngim said:

So does this mean I need to go through a separate process to visit my home country and reenter the U.S. or would an up to date/signed I-20 and visa on my passport be sufficient when reentering the States? 

I don't understand what you mean by "separate" process. As a non-resident, every time you re-enter the US you have to show valid documents. If you are entering with a student visa, you MUST accompany the document with a current I-20. You can't enter with one or the other. You need both, together. (In most airlines they won't let you board the plane without these documents). 

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On 7/25/2018 at 11:53 PM, youngim said:

So does this mean I need to go through a separate process to visit my home country and reenter the U.S. or would an up to date/signed I-20 and visa on my passport be sufficient when reentering the States? 

Hi youngim, I think what you're asking about relates to whether you have a multiple entry visa or a single entry one. As far as I know, you can travel to your home country and back as long as you're carrying your passport, visa and I20, provided your visa is multiple entry (marked with an M or MULT under number of entries). I think most students have that anyway! 

Hope this helps :)

 

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4 hours ago, OnaJournie said:

Hi youngim, I think what you're asking about relates to whether you have a multiple entry visa or a single entry one. As far as I know, you can travel to your home country and back as long as you're carrying your passport, visa and I20, provided your visa is multiple entry (marked with an M or MULT under number of entries). I think most students have that anyway! 

Hope this helps :)

That makes sense! Looks like mine is also marked M :) Thanks

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