- Obtain your I-20 for the F-1 visa or DS-2019 for the J-1 visa.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More information can be found here.
- Schedule your visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For more information on the F-1 visa, see here. For more information on the J-1 visa, see here. Processing times for F-1 and J-1 visas may vary from one location to another - give
yourself plenty of time to apply!
- Find the U.S. consulate closest to you here.
- Make a visa appointment using the Form DS-160.
What Is Your Visa?
As an international student, your visa is your "ticket" to enter the U.S. Once you are physically in the U.S., your visa can expire without any issue because your student status is valid for the "duration of status," or for the entirety of your I-20/DS-2019 validity.
If you travel internationally during your studies, you will need a valid visa to return to the U.S. If your visa is expired, you can apply for a visa renewal. More information can be found on the visa section of the ISS website.
More About the Visa Application Process
It's important to note that the F-1 and J-1 visas are both non-immigrant visas. This means that the consular officer will ask questions to enusre that you can demonstrate non-immigrant intent. Being able to demonstrate family, property, and/or intent to return to your home country after the completion of your studies is an important part of the visa interview. In addition, being able to clearly articulate your purpose for wanting to study in the U.S. is important. And finally, being honest in your visa interview is vital for success.
- Study in the States - Applying for a Visa to Enter the United States
- Education USA - Applying for your Visa
- NAFSA - 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa
- Education USA - Your Visa Questions Answered (Video)