Most non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa. J-1 visas are only issued to students and scholars when their financial sponsor or exchange program requires that they study on a J-1 visa.
A new F-1 or J-1 visa can only be acquired at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States. It is not possible to renew a visa by mail or in person within the United States. Every U.S. Embassy has different visa application procedures; most now require appointments for visa processing. You should contact the US Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply for your visa for additional information or to set up an appointment if required. Please plan ahead! There is a wait time at most embassies for appointments and before a visa can be issued.
Click the links below for the State Department's list of required visa application documents:
Anyone applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa must "prove" to the satisfaction of the Consular Officer that he or she does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. It is important to bring supporting documents to provide evidence of your intent to return to your home country such as: proof of family ties, ownership of property in your home country, a job in your home country, etc. More information about this proof of non-immigrant intent can be found under the Quick Links sidebar, in the "Tips for a Successful Visa Interview."
In addition to the visa application fee, first time F-1 and J-1 applicants (and some renewing applicants) are also required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
Please contact the Bureau of Consular Affairs general public inquiries telephone number (202) 485-7600, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, Washington, D.C. time.
In case of a visa denial, please see the State Department's information about visa denials.