Visa and Visa Status

 It is very important to understand the difference between visa and visa status.

Visa Status

A stamp in the passport issued by and American Embassy or Consulate abroad, allowing the holder to request entry to the United States in a certain visa status within the time period specified on the visa. A visa may allow one, two or multiple entries before the expiration date of the visa.

A person may have several different valid visas in his/her passport at one time. Visa status in the U.S. is determined by the visa used to enter the U.S.

An unexpired visa is necessary to enter the United States. It is not necessary to hold a valid visa while staying in the United States.

Visas can be obtained or renewed ONLY outside the U.S. It is usually required to request a visa in one's home country.

A status granted by INS at the port of entry to the United States. Visa status is documented with a stamp on the I-94 card and in the passport. A new visa status may be granted by INS through a Change of Status (COS) request, verified on an approval notice from INS, accompanied by a new I-94 card.

The expiration date of visa status appears on the I-94 card.

In most cases visa status can be extended without having to leave the United States. Certain limitations apply.