Visa Application Information

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.
  • If you apply for a visa using another school's I-20, but then later decide to go to Rutgers prior to the first time using the visa, you may need to have it updated to say Rutgers prior to your arrival. The first time you use your visa, the name on it must match the name of the school on the I-20 you show at the airport and plan to enroll at. Continuing students that have already used their visa may not be subject to this rule.
  • 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.

  • Students may try to directly request an expedited appointment if their start date is arriving and they have yet to secure an appointment. Please note that letters from the school are not required for this request - the start date on the I-20 is considered proof of urgency.
  • 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. You may need to prepare proof of these ties, such as lease or deed to a home abroad, plan for working outside the US, proof of non-US bank account. We recommend waiting until your OPT is approved to apply for the visa renewal.
  • Some students may be eligible to apply for a visa interview waiver if they meet certain requirements. This is determined case-by-case, embassy by embassy. Please confirm your eligibility with the embassy you are applying for the visa at. Note that you physically must be located inside the country of application at the time of drop off and visa review - you cannot just mail your materials. 
  • You are able to apply for an F-1 visa at any overseas embassy that is processing F-1 students. 
  • Some countries limit how early you can renew your visa. Check this with your local consulate. 
  • Watch our video on applying for your visa below or here on Youtube.

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