Applying for a Student Visa to Enter the U.S.

In This Section

For information and instructions on how to apply for a student visa, go to:

New students applying for F-1 visa can be issued up to 120 days prior to the program start date on your I-20. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1status earlier than 30 days before your program start date. Continuing students may renew F1 visa at any time, as long as you have maintained student status and your SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before classes start.

Required Documents for Visa Application:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.  
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
  • Passport and One (1) 2x2 photograph
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Confirmation Receipt
  • A Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee
  • Rutgers Admission Letter/Certificate
  • Financial documentation proving sufficient funding to cover educational and living expenses for the first full year.
  • If available, documentation indicating your intent to return home at the end of your studies

IMPORTANT: Your NAME on All Legal Documents must be the SAME as on your PASSPORT

The easiest way to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic problems in the U.S., is to ensure that ALL of your legal documents list your name exactly the same way as it is listed in your passport. The spelling of your name should be exactly the same on your passport, your Form I-20 or DS-2019 and your F-1 or J-1 visa stamp. If your name on the Form I-20 or DS-2019 is not exactly as it appears in your passport, do NOT use this I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for a visa—instead, contact the Rutgers Newark Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISS) and request an amended I-20 or DS-2019 be sent to you before you apply for your visa.

Visa Type:  F-1 Student Visa v.s. J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status is for you to obtain an F-1 student visa. F-1 visa is issued to international students pursuing full time studies in the U.S. Majority of Rutgers international students should apply for an F-1 student visa.

Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status is for you to obtain a J-1 visa.  J-1 visa is issued to internationals in a wide variety of categories under the Exchange Visitor Program administered by the U.S. Department of State. Rutgers students sponsored by government agencies, certain international organizations or on exchange programs are advised to apply for a J-1 visa in the category of ―student, college/university unless a sponsor advises otherwise.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate Where to Apply for F-1 or J-1 visa

Visa applicants should apply for F-1 or J-1 student visas at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate generally in their country of permanent residence. To find out at which Embassy or Consulate you should apply for your visa, check this website of U.S. Department of State:

Personal Visa Interview

Most F-1 and J-1 visa applicants will be required to schedule a personal visa interview at the U.S. consulate.  Waiting times for these interviews vary, depending on the specific consulate and time of year. For details on average visa waiting times at U.S. consulates throughout the world, go to the following website:

F-1/J-1 students who attended another U.S. school before coming to Rutgers:            

F-1 students MUST request your previous school to transfer your SEVIS record to Rutgers Newark. If not traveling abroad during the transition, or if your current F-1 visa in your passport is still valid upon returning from travel abroad, you do not need to apply for a new visa.

J-1 students should contact OISS regarding SEVIS record transfer.Depending on the category in previous school, SEVIS record may or may not be eligible for transfer.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda:  Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are NOT required to obtain a visa to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States to attend school, you must present the following documents for inspection: 

  • Passport
  • Admission letter/certificate to Rutgers University
  • Original I-20 or DS-2019
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Financial documentation that proves you have sufficient funding to cover educational and living expenses for the first full year
  • Upon inspection, you must obtain a stamp on your passport marked “F-1/DS” or “J-1/DS”.

Key Contacts

Honors Living Learning Community (HLLC)226 & 227
48 New StreetNewarkNJ07102

OISS In-Person Walk-In Hours:

* No appointment necessary. *
Monday - Thursday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: CLOSED

Virtual one-on-one appointments available at  Rutgers Newark - OISS (