There are lots of things to consider when you are going to study in another country. Quite apart from the practical considerations involved with planning where you will live for the duration of your stay, you will also need to pay proper attention to legal matters, including the need to make sure your passport and visa are fully up to date.
It is quite common for a student visa to expire during your stay abroad, especially if your course is running for a year or more, so it can be a good move to find out in advance what you need to do when it does. This is likely to vary from country to country so the best idea is often to go to the relevant source of information for the country you will be staying in to make sure you know what to do and when you need to do it.
You can meet with problems if you forget to get a new visa and you suddenly find your old one has expired; while you won’t automatically be sent home you will have to seek advice as soon as possible in order to try and solve the matter. You can see why getting some information well in advance is clearly the best solution.
Some countries, including the UK, offer a service which is designed to deal especially with student visas. This type of service ensures that a renewal happens in the fastest possible time with the minimum of hassle for the student. The USA is different again; their visa allows entry into the United States but nothing else. You will need other documentation in addition to this which is known as your ‘Duration of Status’.
The best way forward is to check what you need before you go and apply for your visa in plenty of time. Make sure you are aware of exactly how far in advance you need to start the renewal process – it may be a very simple procedure or it may be best to allow a couple of weeks or more to complete it. Find out what will apply in the country you are visiting – the institution you are studying at should be able to tell you what to do and when. Most importantly visit your country’s immigration department situated in your city to discuss and find out the best approach for renewal.
You should also find out whether the renewing authorities need to see any other documentation. For example in Spain you will have to provide a valid residence permit too. Passport photos and an application form are also required in many countries.
Remember though that in the end it is your sole responsibility to renew your student visa at the right time in order to be able to remain in the country and carry on studying. Forgetting to renew your visa is not generally viewed as a mere oversight; it is usually a criminal offence and as such you can be sent home. Forgetfulness is not an excuse to cover not having a valid visa, and if you are careful and you know in advance what to do and when, you shouldn’t have any problems at all.