Visa Information for New Students

You’ve made it through the first big step and have been accepted to UB! Before you can enter the United States, you must apply for a U.S. visa stamp (foil) that corresponds with your visa category.

What is a U.S. visa?

Your visa category will determine many aspects of your life in the U.S. (e.g., your studies, employment, vacation, travel). Your visa (sometimes referred to as visa stamp or visa foil) is the document placed on a page in your passport that permits you to apply for admission to the U.S. in accordance with your visa category. 

Most international students come to the U.S. on F-1 visas, while some come on J-1 visas. However, there are some other visa categories that permit studying (e.g., H-1B, H-4, L-2, E-2, etc.). So some of you may have a different type of visa.

To come to the United States to study, you will need to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

You cannot study for a degree on a tourist (B-1/2) visa or on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Therefore, you should not enter the U.S. as a B-1/2 or on the VWP if you plan to study.

How do I apply for a student visa?

Important Points to Consider

  • We do not recommend applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate outside your country of permanent residence unless you are residing outside your country or cannot apply for a U.S. visa in your country. Visit the embassy/consulate website to find out what you need to do to apply for a student visa.
  • F-1 visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days before your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student more than 30 days before the Program Start Date on your I-20.
  • When your visa is issued, you may also be required to pay the Reciprocal Visa Issuance Fee. Check the Visa Reciprocity Table to see if you are required to pay this fee.

Canadian students do not need to apply for a U.S. visa.