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Hi all,
I'm from India and have a couple of questions regarding my passport.

First, is it a problem if my passport signature and current signature (which I would use for visa, immigration, etc.) are very different? When I initially got my passport about 7 years ago, my signature was very different from my present signature. So, for any matters regarding getting my visa done, immigration, opening a bank account in the US, etc., the signature I would use would not match with the signature in my passport. Is this going to be a problem and do people check the passport signature? Should I update the signature in my passport?

Second, my passport will expire in 2020. Since I will be a PhD candidate, my duration of stay will be a minimum of 5 years, and perhaps 6. Hence, I'll be staying in the US till about 2021, i.e. 1 year beyond my passport expiration date. Will this be a problem at the time of getting my visa this year? 

Thanks in advance.

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Hello! I am from Canada! Here are some of my experiences but you should also check with an expert, like someone from your school's international office.

1. Usually this is not a problem. People do change their signatures over time. In the United States, I have never had anyone actually compare my signature (even on my credit card, no one ever checks it with the signature on my ID). I also do not sign my signature the same every time so my Passport signature doesn't exactly match my DS-2019 (I'm on J-1 status, this is the same as the I-20 for F-1 students) and the border agents have never raised this point. However, I have not had experience with visa application signatures not matching, so I would recommend talking to an expert about this. But some ideas to consider:

a. Can you just use your old signature for all immigration related documents?

b. Can you get a new passport with an updated signature? When my spouse married me, they wanted to use a new last name and wanted to sign with the new name so they got a new passport with the new name and signature. 

c. Do you have another piece of government issued ID that has your new signature?

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2. This should not be a problem. I entered the US in September 2012 and my passport was due to expire June 2013 (but I could not renew my passport before leaving since Canada only lets you renew within 6 months of expiry). This should not affect you getting your visa. You will just have to apply for a passport renewal with your home government before your passport expires in 2020. For Canada, I was able to mail in my old passport and an application. This required a little bit of planning ahead because I could not travel without a passport. However, I know some people choose to schedule a visit home with family while they are doing a passport renewal.

Also, if your visa is valid beyond your passport expiry date, that is also okay (i.e. if your visa is placed in your old passport and is valid until 2021). However, this means that once you get your new passport, you will have to travel with both your old and new passport. You'll show the visa (with the 2021 expiry date) in your old passport and use your new passport as ID. This means that if your home government requires you to send them your old passport in order to renew your new one, you should let them know that you still need your old passport (they'll clip the corner or cut out some pages to mark that it's not longer valid).

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Hi @TakeruK. Thanks a lot for such a detailed reply! That's good to know they don't check the passport signature thoroughly.

a. The problem with my old signature and the reason I changed it was that it was too small. People would think I was using my short signature or initializing my name when in fact that was my full signature! Hence, I changed it. I would imagine using it again would bring up the same problems. 

b. That would be ideal and is what I am planning to do and have asked around. Unfortunately, this is an Indian government office we're dealing with. A far cry from being efficient and helpful. The process would probably take months but I'm hoping that somehow it can get done quicker.

c. Nope, just the passport.

Also, thanks for the additional information about the visa dates.

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