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F-1 visa renewal interview while on OPT

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Hey guys, so after 7-8 months since I left the US, I have decided to give it a try renewing my F-1 visa while my OPT is valid. So anyway, I filled the application and stuff, and deliberately put a tick on visa renewal thing, hoping that I will get away without the interview:) I know I'm silly:) Anyway, like 2-3 days later I've received an email requiring me to pick a date and come for an interview.

So, anyway, now what do you guys recommend me? How do I prepare? What should I say during the interview? And what I should not say?

To be honest, the only reason why I applied is because I wanted to have a valid visa ready in case I get a job offer (+I wanted to use my OPT and I-20 (signature) while they are valid). But of course, that's not what I said in the application. The way I've explained it is that I haven't completed the most important part of my research (even though I've completed my Master's) so I need few extra months and with the help of the available uni facilities and with the help of my research team I would complete it in few months. But at the beginning I've mentioned that depending on the volume of work, I might need to join PhD. So what do you guys think? Do I have any chances of getting the visa? P.S. I'm full-time employed here in my country but didn't mention that, and now I think that I probably should have mentioned that

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I don't think you can renew your F-1 visa with this OPT because:

1. You're only allowed a maximum of 90 days of unemployment, after that your OPT authorization ends. Given that you have been out of the US for 7-8 months, I think your OPT is no longer valid (source: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/on-opt, "OPT Employment Requirements and Reporting" section).

2. If you leave the US while you are on OPT and do not have a job offer to return to, your OPT also ends (source: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/travel-post-opt, last paragraph on the page).

Also, if your degree has been conferred, you can't say you have to come back and finish your research.

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20 hours ago, ndd23123 said:

I don't think you can renew your F-1 visa with this OPT because:

1. You're only allowed a maximum of 90 days of unemployment, after that your OPT authorization ends. Given that you have been out of the US for 7-8 months, I think your OPT is no longer valid (source: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/on-opt, "OPT Employment Requirements and Reporting" section).

2. If you leave the US while you are on OPT and do not have a job offer to return to, your OPT also ends (source: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/travel-post-opt, last paragraph on the page).

Also, if your degree has been conferred, you can't say you have to come back and finish your research.

I don't think you are right because this doesn't really apply to my case. Officially, I've been working as a volunteer for my adviser since I graduated, which counts as an employment. The only problem is I have been outside the U.S. for 8 months while "officially" working as a volunteer. I think the following point might be relevant for my case but I'm not sure:

"If you travel abroad while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of your employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment."

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You might be right. However, if I were a visa officer, I would heavily question why you have been out of the US for so long and why you need to come back now given that you have been able to perform you volunteering duties outside of the US in the past 8 months. I would prepare a convincing answer for that. You should probably have a letter for from your advisor stating that you are authorized to leave the US for the period mentioned above and that you will have a job (even volunteer) to return you. When I renewed my F-1 visa while on OPT, I sent in my I-20, a copy of my EAD card, a letter from my employer, and the last 3 paystubs. I was able to renew without having to come in for an interview.

Also, I would check with your school international student service regarding your status on SEVIS. At the end of the day, it is what on SEVIS that matters, not what on papers. Additionally, I would also make sure that your travel signature is less than 6 months old.

"* Regulations state that during post-completion OPT, the travel signature should be no older than six months. The International Center recommends while on post-completion OPT that you get a valid travel signature every six months. Source: 8CFR214.2(f)(13)(ii)"

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