As your program approaches completion, it is crucial that you consider how you will extend your student visa. Your F-1 visa only lasts for the duration of academic program – if you wish to remain in the US after graduating you must either switch into full-time graduate/professional degree program or apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
As soon as your current visa expires, submit an extension application at least one month in advance. Since the visa extension process can take 6-8 weeks and be part of future travel plans, plan ahead. If processing delays become an issue for you, pay either priority or super priority fees to receive a decision within 10 working days or 1 working day respectively.
To extend your visa, typically a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) will be needed. When meeting with the DSO to do this process, be prepared to demonstrate that you will continue studying at an advanced academic level as well as providing sufficient financial evidence covering tuition fees and living costs.
There may be times when it is possible for you to apply for an extension without needing a new CoE, such as when your study load decreases due to voluntary reduction or medical leave of absence is granted. When this is the case, our Visa and Immigration team will advise on the most efficient course of action.