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I'm a French citizen living in the USA, with my wife and our two children (who are French as well). I have a J1 Visa (Research Scholar) expiring the 30th of September 2016. My employer offered to renew my contract for one year. The other member of my family have a J2 visa with the same expiration date.

My "responsible officer" told me that he could extend my DS-2019 with proper dates, so that I would be fine as long as I'm not leaving the country. I guess this is what is meant by "Reinstatement" at the Adjustments and Extensions webpage.

I'm wondering if it would be reasonable not to renew my visa, and I'm asking myself a couple of questions which are not in the J1 faq:

  1. Does a new visa voids the old one?
  2. What would be the dates range in which I could go renew my visa? For instance, would 3 months after (or before) the beginning of my new contract be too late (or too early)?
  3. Can I renew my visa without renewing the visa of my wife and my children? Can my wife renew her visa if I don't renew mine? Can I renew the visa of my children if I'm in France, but they didn't left the US?
  4. If we don't renew our visa, would that make more complicated to get new visas next year, for instance in 2018, in the case of another extension of my contract?
  5. Suppose an unplanned event makes us leave the country. How long would it take for us to make the appropriate arrangement so that we could take an appointment at Paris'US embassy?

I'm not subject to the Two-Year Home-Country rule. There are not a lot of questions directly related here, although this one (surprisingly) seems to suggest that there is a delay between the expiration of a J1 visa and getting another one.

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    "I guess this is what is meant by "Reinstatement"" No. Reinstatement is for if you fall out of status (which is a bad thing) and want to get back into status. You will hopefully not go out of status and will continue to maintain J1 status the whole time because you will continue to have a valid DS-2019 whose terms you are complying with. – user102008 Mar 24 '16 at 17:32
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Before addressing your questions, I would like to mention the difference between having a valid visa and having valid status. The visa has no bearing whatsoever on whether you are allowed to stay in the US. It allows you to travel to the US and apply for entry. Therefore, you don't need a valid visa unless you're planning to leave and reenter the US.

See, for example, https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/visa-expiration-date.html.

Does a new visa void the old one?

Perhaps not automatically, but if they issue a new visa before the old one is expired, they will stamp "cancelled" on the old visa.

What would be the dates range in which I could go renew my visa? For instance, would 3 months after (or before) the beginning of my new contract be too late (or too early)?

I am not completely sure about this, but I believe that as long as you have the paperwork to show you're eligible for J1 status, you can get a J-1 visa.

Can I renew my visa without renewing the visa of my wife and my children?

Yes.

Can my wife renew her visa if I don't renew mine?

Yes, as long as you maintain J1 status. For example, if after your visas expire she leaves the country while you remain, she would need to get a new visa, and you would be unable to get a new visa. Because you remain in the US in J1 status, your wife is eligible to receive a new J-2 visa.

Can I renew the visa of my children if I'm in France, but they didn't left the US?

Probably not. J visas, like almost all other visas, can only be renewed outside the US. Of course, if they remain in the US, they won't need a new visa.

If we don't renew our visa, would that make more complicated to get new visas next year, for instance in 2018, in the case of another extension of my contract?

No.

Suppose an unplanned event makes us leave the country. How long would it take for us to make the appropriate arrangement so that we could take an appointment at Paris'US embassy?

I don't know anything about the workings of the US embassy in Paris, but I do know that the possibility of an unplanned urgent trip is the most compelling reason for maintaining a valid visa.

An unfortunate corollary to this is that if you ever want to travel out of the US after your visas expire, you need to plan your trip around visiting a US consulate to get a new visa.

protected by phoog Nov 22 '18 at 3:30

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