Visa Application and Travel Support

If you depart the United States during your degree program, and your F-1 Visa has expired, you will be required to apply for a new one before returning to the United States. We recommend that you contact the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the country that you plan to travel to obtain the required documents to apply for a new visa. If you will not be applying in your home country, it is HIGHLY recommended that you determine if the country that you are traveling to will accept a third-party national visa application. Some consulates or embassies will not accept third-party national applications, and you must come up with an alternate plan.

Avoid Scams

Scams are when strangers target people and lie to them in order to illegally receive money or personal information to use for identity theft or for other illegal purposes. Scammers contact people in many ways, but a common way is to call people and demand money under false claims.

Usually, the scammer will pretend to representa government office - like  USCIS, the IRS, the Social Security Administration,, or even a member of your own country’s government or police, and will threaten legal action against a student or their family unless they immediately make a payment over the phone or wire transfer the money to scammers bank account.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will NEVER call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone; therefore, you should not make any payment over the phone or otherwise to anyone who claims to be representing these organizations or any governmental agencies. USCIS offers immigration fraud specific information to help you avoid scams, including explanations about some of the most common scams used against international students. The FTC also has information about scams here.

If you receive a call from someone who claims to be from your government or police agency, we highly recommend you ask the caller for their call back number and name. You should then call your local embassy or consulate to alert them you received the call and in most cases they will identify this as a scam and advise that you should not respond. The caller may tell you that you must respond immediately and cannot end the call which is typically a clear sign it is a scam.

If you receive a call and suspect it is a scam, ask for a phone number to call back and contact International Affairs ( or Campus Security (312-899-1230) for guidance. If you think you may have experienced a scam call and are concerned, please visit International Affairs or email us ( so we can better advise you. You are also welcome to file reports with Campus Security.

Students Registering for SAIC Study Trips

Currently all SAIC Study Abroad Study Trips are suspended through the summer 2022 semester. An announcement will be made after the new year, if Study Trips will resume in winter 2023. Semester-long exchange programs for fall 2022 are open for application. Visit here for more information.

Are you an international student planning to register for an SAIC study trip?  If so, be sure that you are eligible.  Carefully review the visa requirements of the country/ies you plan to visit on the study trip. Many countries require a valid, unexpired U.S. F-1 visa to apply for their visitor visa.

Check your passport to see if your F-1 visa has expired; if it has, you can either:

  • travel outside the U.S. to renew your F-1 before you register for your SAIC study trip
  • book your study trip flight with a stopover in your home country; plan to renew your F-1 visa either on the way or on your return

Note: most foreign consulates will grant you a visitor visa if you have evidence (flight ticket) that indicates you will stop over in your home country to renew your F-1 either before or after your study trip.

Meet with an international student advisor for questions or to discuss your plans in more detail.

Enrollment Verification

If the consulate or embassy is requiring enrollment verification or transcripts (academic records) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), request these documents directly from the office of Registration and Records. Please visit the Records page to view the four different ways to request transcripts.

Invitation Letters

The International Affairs office encourages you to write letters of invitation for use in the visa interview of a friend or parent. Use our Sample Invitation Letter‌ [PDF] to structure a letter inviting your guests to the United States. International Affairs does not issue these standard letters.

The Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program

The Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at transportation hubs. If you have had repeated difficulties at US ports of entry or have been repeatedly referred to secondary inspection despite having all immigration documents, you can file an inquiry with DHS.

Expired or Single-Entry Student Visas - Can I renew my visa if I leave the United States for a trip?

If you depart the United States during the course of your studies with a single entry visa or an expired visa, you will need to apply for, and be interviewed for, a new student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Generally, continuing students who can show they are in good standing in their academic programs should qualify for new student visas to return and resume their studies. Continuing students should provide evidence of progress in their program, along with evidence of continuing ability to cover tuition and living expenses. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for a visa.

Some visa applications (typically from Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria) require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply.

You should schedule an appointment for your interview as early as possible, so any additional administrative processing, if required, can be completed before your next academic term begins.

How to Apply for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate as a Third Country National in Canada or Mexico

Third country nationals (TCN) present in the United States and visitors present in Canada or Mexico who wish to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Canada or Mexico, must make an appointment for an interview. For more information about applying for a visa as a TCN in Canada or Mexico, please click here.

Re-entering the United States with a Valid I-94 Form and expired visa after a short stay in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands

Automatic Revalidation

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the authority and the responsibility over the admission of travelers to the United States. Under the automatic revalidation provision of immigration law, certain temporary visitors holding expired nonimmigrant visas who seek to return to the U.S. may be admitted at a U.S. port-of-entry by CBP, if they meet certain requirements, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Nonimmigrants who departed the United States for brief travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (for F and J nonimmigrants) for thirty days or less;
  • Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, endorsed by DHS.


If you are traveling to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, and are taking a short trip(s) to Canada and Mexico, review the Automatic Revalidation webpage.