Whether you are applying for your first student visa, or you are a continuing student who needs to apply for a new visa before returning to continue your studies, review this helpful information about the visa application process:
- You must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. New students will receive an I-20 or DS-2019 from the appropriate admissions office after being admitted to Rutgers and submitting required supplemental documentation. For more information, review the Pre and Post-Arrival Steps for newly admitted students on our website.
- New students and returning students who received an I-20 or DS-2019 with a new SEVIS ID number must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa. This fee is only required for the primary student. Dependents (with an F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019) do not pay the I-901 fee. Continuing students do not need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again if they have an active I-20, when applying for a new visa, but you will need a receipt showing that you paid the fee when you first applied for a visa.
- Complete your online non-immigrant visa application, DS-160
- Follow the instructions about completing the visa application and interview process provided by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. Please note that there is a fee for applying for a U.S. visa.
- Review information about preparing to enter the United States.
- If you are on OPT, you should prepare to explain your OPT status and continued ties to your home country.
Some visa applications require additional administrative processing beyond the consular interview. This can delay your entry to the US. If your application is undergoing administrative processing, and you are unable to arrive at Rutgers in time for your program/session start date, please contact an international student adviser.
Visa Denials are rare. If there is a denial, it often is based on the student's or scholar's presumed intent to immigrate to the United States, known as 214(b). It is often difficult to disprove this assumption as it is by nature very subjective. Please review the U.S. Department of State resource page to consider whether you can overcome the denial. If your visa is denied and/or you decide not to start/continue your studies at Rutgers, please contact an ISSS Adviser.
Please note that you cannot apply for a visa from within the United States.
- If you are currently in the United States and would like to apply for a Change of Status to F-1 or J-1, please review more information on our Change of Status page.
- If you are a continuing student, it is okay if your F-1 or J-1 visa expires while you are in the United States. You do not need to plan travel only to renew your visa, but next time you do plan to travel internationally, be prepared to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa before returning.
Additional Information and Resources
- U.S. Visas, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Study and Exchange
- Study in the States, Paying your I-901 SEVIS Fee
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Travel Re-entry: F Visa
- USEmbassy.gov, Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions
- Visa Appointment Wait Times