Given the different requirements posted by U.S. embassies and consulates in each country, we recommend that, when applying for a visa, you refer to the guidelines available at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest to you. A list of all U.S. embassies and consulates can be found at www.usembassy.gov. It is important for you to familiarize yourself with the process before you apply for your student visa.
In general, students are required to provide their visa application form (with the appropriate, non-refundable fee), their passport, an I-901 SEVIS fee receipt, the Certificate of Eligibility (Forms I-20 or DS-2019), along with your Rider University admission letter, bank statements, and support original documents from financial sponsors (family, friends, organizations, etc).
What to Bring With You to the Visa Interview
Be sure to bring the following with you to the visa appointment:
- Required photo(s)
- Proof of visa fee payment
- SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt
- U.S. non-immigrant visa application forms
- Admission letter from Rider University
- Form I-20 or DS2019 issued by Rider University
- Test scores and academic records
- Proof of English proficiency (unless you received a conditional admission from Rider)
- Proof of financial support
- Evidence of ties to your home country
- Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate
Helpful tips when applying for a visa
- Financial certification: You must demonstrate that you have a residence abroad that you do not intend to leave behind following your completion of studies. You must provide evidence of strong ties to your home country as illustrated by family, business, or financial support in your country.
- Educational goals: Be very clear about your educational goals and career plans back in your home country, after you graduate from Rider. You must prepare to answer questions about why you chose Rider University and why you want to study in the United States, instead of studying in your home country.
- English proficiency: Unless you received a letter of conditional admission from Rider, you should expect that your interview will be conducted in English.
- Be clear: Your interview will likely be very short, between one and two minutes; make sure you respond to questions in a clear and concise way, to give a leave a good impression on the visa officer.
- Leaving family behind: If your spouse or children will remain in your country while you are studying at Rider, be prepared to explain how they plan to support themselves while you are out of the country.
Visa denials and visa delays
The most common reasons for visa denials are:
- Lack of evidence to prove financial capability to study in the United States
- Lack of evidence to prove strong ties to the home country
If your visa application is denied, you will be able to reapply for a visa; however, please contact the Office of Admission immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can assist you.
Visa delays can happen due to a number of factors, including but not limited to: holidays, request for additional information, security clearance, etc. That is why we recommend that you apply for your visa as early as possible! Students can apply for their visas up to 120 prior to the start of their program (see your I-20 or DS2019 for your program start date).
F or J Visa
Most students come to the United States on an F-1 student visa. This visa type will be used for students coming to Rider to pursue their degrees (undergraduate or graduate) and language instruction. The Form I-20 is issued by Rider University.
If you are participating in the exchange visitor program, you need to obtain a J-1 visa. Generally, a J-1 visa is required for students who are sponsored by a government agency, international organization, or are a participant in a formal exchange program with Rider and an institution abroad. In some cases, J-1 students may have requirements that prevent them from remaining in the U.S. upon completion of studies.
Early Arrivals and Tourist Visas
Important: DO NOT enter the U.S. as a tourist with a B-1, B-2 visa stamp or with a WT (waiver tourist) if you are a citizen of a country that is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program.
If you enter as a tourist, you must apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1, in order to enroll as a full-time student. Unfortunately, the change may take several months to process and you are unable to begin your program until your new status has been approved. WT entrants are not eligible to change to any other non-immigrant status. Therefore, if you plan to come to the U.S. to study, it is crucial that you enter with an F-1 or J-1 visa.
If your intent is to arrive in the U.S. prior to your program start date, you may do so up to but not more than 30 days before the date indicated on your Form I-20 or DS2019. If you are unable to arrive on or before your program start date, you must contact the international student advisor at email@example.com to request authorization to enter the U.S. at a later date.
Canadian citizens are exempt from visa but must present the following documents upon entering the United States:
- Admission letter from Rider University
- Canadian passport
- Proof of SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment
- Form I-20 from Rider University
- Proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your Form I-20
Other than the visa requirements based upon the port of entry to the U.S., all travel documents and regulations for Canadian citizens are the same as for other F-1 visa holders. Since changes in these requirements are possible, it is best to check with the nearest U.S. consulate to learn if any changes have taken place.
By law, international students may travel to the United States no more than 30 days before the start of classes.
Students Currently in the United States
If you are already an F-1 visa holder because you are attending a language program, high school, college or university in the U.S., you will need a new Form I-20 from Rider to start your program with us. Your new Form I-20 will be issued as soon as your current school transfers your SEVIS record to Rider and your financial documentation has been received.
If you are currently holding another visa type and wishes to change it to F-1, please contact the Office of Admission at firstname.lastname@example.org.