To learn more about what type of visa you should get, click here. To secure your visa, schedule an appointment at your U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible. Please note that you cannot have your visa issued more than 120 days prior to the start date on your I-20 for F-1 visa applicants. Note: Requirements sometimes change and may differ depending on your home country. This list is intended to be a guide only.
You cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days in advance of the start date shown on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. On your initial entry to the U.S., you must use the I-20 or DS-2019 that was used to obtain the student visa. Please report to the Office of International Services as soon as possible following your arrival to the U.S.
When you enter the U.S., the Border Official will review your Form I-20, passport, and visa and may ask you some questions about your plans in the U.S. The Official will stamp the white card, known as the I-94, your passport, and I-20 or DS-2019 indicating your entry date, visa class (for example F-1 or J-1), and "D/S." "D/S" means that you are admitted for the duration of your status. This means that even if the J-1/F-1 visa in your passport expires, you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining full time student status or the conditions of your training (F-1 OPT or J-1 Academic Training). Click here for information about maintaining your visa status. Once you have completed the course of study and any training, you must prepare to leave the U.S.
If you are travelling outside the U.S. and your visa has expired, you will need to schedule time to renew your student visa before returning to the U.S. (exception includes Canada, Mexico, and some adjacent islands). You cannot renew a visa inside the U.S. You will need to refer to the U.S. Consulate in your home country or the U.S. Consulate in the country that you will be visiting for the application instructions. Remember to plan ahead for any necessary visa appointment and processing time. Questions that may come up during the renewal process include whether or not you have maintained your F-1 status, your program and SEVIS records are still current, and if you are in good academic standing. Note: Requirements sometimes change and may differ depending on your home country. This list is intended to be a guide only.
You should be prepare the following documents (this is a guide, please check if the U.S. Consulate in your area requires additional documentation):