Visa Information for New Students

Before you can enter the United States, you must apply for a U.S. visa stamp.

What is a U.S. visa?

Your visa category will impact many parts of your life in the U.S. Your studies, employment, vacation, and travel are a few examples. 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 (H-1B, H-4, L-2, E-2, etc.).  

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.
  • Even if you have your visa stamp, 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.