Renewing your visa as a continuing student/scholar at Georgia Tech

A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. A F-1 or J-1 visas are issued for the purpose of study and research. The guidance on this page is specific to those seeking either an F-1 or J-1 visa for the purpose of study and research at Georgia Tech.

Procedures and requirements for visas can vary between countries and are subject to change. As such, reviewing the visa requirements on the website for the appropriate U.S. Embassy/Consulate is the best way to prepare you for the visa application process. OIE has prepared the information below as supplemental guidance. For specific instructions, required documents, and timing, you will need to review the guidance from the U.S. embassy or consulate that you'll be attending to apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa. 

VISA Renewal 

The process to renew your visa is very similar to the process you went through to obtain your first F-1 or J-1 visa. As you prepare to renew your visa, consider the following:

  • Visit the U.S. Department of State's website to locate the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate along with the specific procedures and documentation required. Please be aware that some embassies require you to make an appointment in advance in order to apply for visa renewal. 
  • Review your I-20/DS-2019 form.
    • Travel Signature:
      • Ensure your I-20 form or DS-2019 form has a valid travel signature. It is not necessarily required for the visa interview, but will be required at the time of re-entry to the U.S.. For more information about travel signatures and the process to request one, please review OIE's comprehensive travel guidance
    • Program Information:
      • If the program information is not correct, complete the necessary e-form in iStart to request an updated I-20 form from OIE. Please note, OIE will only be able to update the information once your student record is updated. 
    • Financial Information:
      • Review the financial information on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. If the information on your documents are no longer up-to-date, complete the "Financial Statement Update" e-form in iStart in order for OIE to update the financials.
  • Should your visa be subject to administrative processing, you may be asked to provide additional information or evidence regarding your prior travel to the U.S., your employment history, additional information about your academic or research program objectives, and you may be asked to confirm your intent to depart the U.S. after the completion of your degree and practical training. 
    • If you are asked to provide additional information about your program or research, you are encouraged to contact your department as they can best speak to your degree program and/or research.

Security Advisory Opinion (SAO)

When is a Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) requested? An SAO may be required of a visa applicant for a number of reasons: a "hit" during a name-check; being a "national" of certain countries; studying or researching an academic field on the Technology Alert List (TAL); or, based on the "intuition" of the interviewing officer.

If you are subject to an SAO, unfortunately, there is nothing that Georgia Tech can do to expedite the process. If you are a current graduate student at Georgia Tech and subject to an SAO, please inform your academic department so that they are aware of the delay. This is especially important if you are a GRA/GTA. Therefore, you must wait until the check is complete, which can be anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.

  • Name check: Every applicant for any visa must undergo a name-check through the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD). If the applicant's name matches a name on the database as a 'problem,' an SAO is required.
  • Nationality: Being a "national" of certain countries may be all that is needed to require an SAO. "National" may mean that the individual has dual citizenship, once was a citizen of one of those countries, OR was born in one of those countries. The only way to avoid this is if proof of renunciation of that citizenship is in writing (whether in fact the applicant was ever a citizen of the country).
  • Technology Alert List (TAL): Many of the fields of study listed on the TAL are very broadly stated which results in a number of SAOs. If the research is clearly not of strategic importance, a detailed (but not lengthy!) explanation of the specific research that the applicant is engaged in may remove the need for an SAO.
  • Intuition: Consular officers are asked to use their own impressions to request an SAO if they are at all unsure of whether it is necessary or not.