What is a Visa?

A U.S. non-immigrant visa is issued in an individual's passport by a U.S. consul in a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. A visa is used solely for the purpose of entry and reentry to the United States. The visa does not determine how long an individual may remain in the United States. Therefore, an individual may stay beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as the visa document (Form I-20, Form DS-2019, or Form I-797) is valid. Most visa stamps are for multiple entries. It is not possible to apply for or to renew a visa in the United States.

International students and scholars at Harvard should use the appropriate visa related to their current activities at Harvard (a student visa or a research scholar visa). Use of a "visitor" or "tourist" visa may have serious consequences when used inappropriately. Once the proper visa expires it will be necessary to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling outside the United States.