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How to Apply

Applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa

You are required to have a valid visa stamp (except Canadians) in your passport to be allowed entry into the United States. For general information on how to apply for a student or exchange visitor visa and a list of documentation that may be needed, review the U.S. Department of State website and enter the search term “visa.”

  • An appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad may be required
  • Visas cannot be issued inside the U.S.
  • If you are an F-1 student using Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must also bring a valid EAD card and a job offer letter or current employment verification letter.
  • Some consulates may require additional documentation. Check the consulate website for visa application instructions. Visa application forms and fees can be found on the consulate website.

Canadian citizens

As a Canadian citizen, you are not required to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1, but you must still pay the SEVIS fee and present your I-20 or DS-2019 at the U.S. port of entry.

If you are a "Landed Immigrant" in Canada, a U.S. visa is required to enter the U.S.

Wait times

Since visa appointments are limited and visa processing times can be lengthy, make your appointment as early as possible. Consulates will generally accept appointments up to 120 days prior to the start of studies. There may be long waiting periods for appointments, especially May through August and during the December/January holiday season. Consulates may give priority to you as an F-1 or J-1 visa applicant if requested.

Security clearances

In some cases, the consulate may require you to undergo a security clearance referred to as “Administrative Processing” on the visa application. A visa may be approved, but cannot be issued until the security check is cleared.

It is common for the security clearance to take a few  weeks to a couple of months. If you are subject to a security clearance, please email so that we can advise on the implications of a delayed arrival. Please note that there is nothing that Mayo Clinic can do to expedite the clearance process.

Employment and training

Students cannot pursue any off-campus employment unless they have been approved by Mayo Clinic Legal Department for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  

Pursuing off-campus employment activity without proper authorization could jeopardize your ability to complete your Mayo Clinic academic program and your application for future U.S. visas.

While the primary purpose of the F-1 student category is the pursuit of an educational program, the F-1 regulations also provide employment benefits for students to pursue employment opportunities on campus as well as degree-related employment off campus (see CPT and OPT section for more information).