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 U.S. Every U.S. Embassy has different visa application procedures and most now require appointments for visa processing. For specific application requirements, please see the Visa Application section of the U.S. Department of State website.
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 on our Tips for a Successful Visa Interview page.
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 see the State Department's information about visa denials. If you are denied a visa, please contact your admissions office for information on next steps.