A U.S. Visa is a type of travel document that allows a citizen of a foreign country to enter the U.S.  The document is usually placed in the foreign citizen’s passport, and may allow them to stay in the United States for a specified period of time.  There are many different visa categories, depending on the nature of the stay in the U.S.  For example, there are tourist visas, fiancé visas, student visas, and many others. 

Once a visa expires, the foreign citizen is usually not allowed to stay within the United States.  They may need to take certain actions such as renewing their visa or filing for a new visa. 

When Does Filing for a New Visa Become Necessary?

Depending on the circumstances of each individual case, filing for a new visa may be necessary.  For example, you might need to file for a new visa if:

  • Your visa has expired or is no longer valid, but your legal status is still valid
  • You have traveled outside the U.S. longer than a specified time period
  • You have traveled to certain countries outside the U.S.
  • You are a student visa holder and have been away from your classes longer than 5 months
  • You have been denied a visa extension or a visa revalidation

Again, visa eligibility requirements may be different depending on your individual needs.  You may wish to speak with an immigration lawyer to determine whether you need to file for a new visa, or if other options are available to you.

How do I File for a New Visa?

Filing for a new visa can usually be accomplished through the U.S. embassy, consular office, or immigration office where your first visa was obtained.  This will involve submitting all the necessary documents and paying all the fees again- you probably won’t be allowed to use the documents that you submitted for your original visa. 

Visa application requirements often change, and may be significantly different from the last time you filed for a visa.  Be sure to do some basic research or contact an immigration attorney to see if any new visa requirements have been enforced.

Are There any Alternatives to Filing for a New Visa?

Filing for a new visa is typically considered the last option when it comes to visa deadlines; you will want to take action before your visa becomes expired or invalid.  Overstaying a visa is a serious offense and can negatively affect your ability to travel or stay in the U.S. in the future. 

Some alternatives to filing for a new visa can include:

  • Obtain a Visa Extension:  Extensions are granted quite frequently, but extension applications must be submitted well before the visa expires.
  • Visa Revalidations:  This allows the foreign citizen to renew their visa without applying for a new one, and without leaving the United States.  This can save both time and money for travel expenses and filing fees, but it is only available for certain categories.

Also, these alternatives may not be available if you have already filed for a new visa.  For these reasons, be sure to review all your options if your visa expiration date is approaching.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Filing for a New Visa?

In most cases, it is necessary to hire an immigration lawyer for help filing for a new visa.  Your attorney can explain all your options to you, including individual deadlines and filing requirements.  Planning ahead can help you avoid costly errors as well as violations of travel laws.