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International Center

Visa/Passport Renewal and Travel Information

Visa Renewal

A Visa cannot be renewed within the US. 

You must travel outside the US to obtain a new visa.  You can travel to a country that is not your home country to apply for a new visa such as Canada or Mexico. 

It is very risky to apply for a visa outside of your home country.  If your visa is denied, you must return to your home country to apply for the visa again before being able to return to the US. 

Again, attempting to renew your visa in a "third-party" country is very risky and not recommended.

Both F-1 and J-1 visas have an expiration date listed on the visa. You can remain in the US with an expired visa as long as your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) forms are valid.  Think of your visa as a "ticket" that allows you entrance into the US.  If you travel outside the US with an expired visa you must apply for and obtain a new visa in order to return to the US. 

In order to study in the US, you must have a valid passport, valid Form I-20 and a visa.  The visa can be expired but the Form I-20 must be valid.

The US Department of State has a rule referred to as Automatic Revalidation of Visa that can be used to travel to Canda, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands other than Cuba.  Information on this rule can be found on the International Center Travel site.

Passport Renewal

A passport is a document issued by a country to a citizen allowing that person to travel abroad and re-enter the home country.

You must have a valid passport while studying in the United States. You can renew an expiring passport while in the United States.  If your passport is going to expire within six months, you can apply for and receive a new passport while in the US.  You should refer to your home country's Embassy in the US for information on how to renew your passport.

The International Center can help you with any questions that you may have about your visa or passport renewal.


Traveling with and F-1 or J-1 Visa
Automatic Revalidation of Visa
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
International Center Transportation Policy
Getting Around Rock Hill and Charlotte

Traveling with an F-1 or J-1 Visa

As a student on an F-1 or J-1 visa, you are allowed to travel while studying in the United States. Most students travel home over the summer and semester breaks, some have to leave unexpectedly for family reasons.  If you must leave the United States while studying here there are several items to remember -

  • In order to return to the US to study, you must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa.  If your visa is expired you will need to apply for and receive a new visa to re-enter the US.  You cannot apply for a new visa within the US, you have to apply outside the US. 
  • You must have a valid passport.  The passport is what will allow you to enter your home country.  If your passport is expired, you can apply for and receive a new passport while remaining in the US.  You should refer to your home country's Embassy in the US for information on how to renew your passport.
  • Traveling inside the US is relatively easy.  It is a good rule to travel with your passport and visa and I-20 or DS-2019. If you worry about losing these documents you should at least carry photocopies of them with you.
  • Page three of your I-20 form (F-1) and page one of your DS-2019 (J-1) will need to be signed by a Designated School Official in the International Center prior to your traveling outside the US.  If you are traveling you should request a signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 prior to each departure from the US.  You will not be able to re-enter the US without this signature on your immigration document.

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Automatic Revalidation of Visa

The US State Department has a travel benefit called Automatic Revalidation of Visa that allows F-1 and J-1 students to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to Canada, Mexico, and the "adjacent islands other than Cuba" without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry.   Persons in F and J status who are maintaining their F and J status can travel to Canada, Mexico and the "adjacent islands other than Cuba" for 30 days or less and re-enter the US showing their previous I-94 card, a valid passport, and a valid form I-20 or DS-2019, plus an expired visa.    

If you travel using the Automatic Revalidation of Visa benefit, you must not give your current I-94 to the US official as you are leaving the US.  If you give your current I-94 to the official you will have to apply for a new visa in the country you are visiting.  The International Center highly recommends that you print the Automatic Revalidation of Visa rule and take this with you when you travel.  You may need to show the rule to the US official to explain not relinquishing your I-94 card.

It is important to remember that if you apply for a new visa while in  Canada, Mexico or the "adjacent islands other than Cuba",  the automatic revalidation of visa will no longer apply. That means, if you apply for a new F or J visa in Canada, you must receive a valid new visa before being able to re-enter the US. If your application for a new visa is denied, you  will likely have to leave Canada and return to your home country to obtain a new visa in order to return to the U.S.  Also, citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba are not eligible for the automatic revalidation of visa benefit.

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Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), are screened at their port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security‚Äôs US-Visit program.

Currently 36 countries participate in the VWP, they are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Generally, transit through the United States is permitted.  To enter using the VWP,

Please visit the US Department of State for more information on the Visa Waiver Program.

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International Center Transportation Policy

The International Center tries to make accommodations to pick up all new international students as they arrive in Charlotte.  The International Center also has a transportation policy for all continuing international students.  If you have any questions about this policy contact the International Center

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Getting Around Rock Hill and Charlotte 

If you need to get from place to place in Rock Hill, Charlotte or the great beyond hopefully this information will be helpful to you.  Some students have cars and transportation to different places is not that difficult to navigate.  Others do not have cars and find it much harder to get around.  You can always ask your friends for assistance but hopefully the information below will be helpful.

Winthrop University and Rock Hill are very bicycle friendly areas.  You can purchase a bicycle at any area Wal-Mart or Target store.  If you do not want to purchase your own bicycle, the International Center has several bikes for international student use.  The bikes are available for a weekend or for a 24-hour period.  To reserve a bicycle please visit the International Center.

By Car/Taxi/Bus

Local public transportation, frequently referred to as "Dial-A-Ride," arranges for vehicles to pick-up and drop-off passengers in and around Rock Hill. The operating schedule for this service is Monday thru Friday from 6:00am to 6:00pm, with a one-way fare costing $2.50. Riders who would like to use this service call 803/327-6694 ext. 304 at least two days in advance to reserve a seat.

  • Carolinas Cab Company located at 232 S. Cherry Road available 24-hours per day by calling 324-8819.
  • All American Cab Company is available by calling 327-4144
  • Veterans Cab Company is available by calling 327-4131
  • Diamond Cab Company located in Charlotte, NC.  Available 24-hours per day by calling 704-333-3030.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is Charlotte's public transit system.  CATS has a stop in Rock Hill.  This stop is designed to help commuters get back and forth to Charlotte during mornings and evenings but could be used if you needed to get to Charlotte for the day.  The Rock Hill Express runs both morning and evening from Rock Hill to Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Route 82 X Rock Hill Express)

There is a Greyhound bus stop in Rock Hill 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometers) from the Winthrop campus. Winthrop is 11 minutes south of the bus stop on Cherry Road. Call (803) 327-9388 for the local terminal or 1-800-231-2222 for Greyhound's fare and schedule information.

By Train

Rail travel is available through Amtrak in Charlotte, NC, 1914 N. Tryon Street which is approximately 25.8 miles (41.4 kilometers) and 37 minutes from Winthrop. For schedule information call 1-800-872-7245.

By Plane

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina is the closest major airport to Rock Hill. It is 23.6 miles (37.9 kilometers) and approximately 35 minutes north of the Winthrop Campus. Direct flights from Europe and Canada are available. Ten major carriers offer daily flights.  The carriers are -







Air Canada




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If you have any questions or other good information about travel please contact the International Center.


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International Center
701 Oakland Avenue
218 Dinkins Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2340 (fax)
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