Contact the US embassy or consulate for information about visas to the US. Every embassy and consulate has a small library of information about studying in the US. They can advise you as to the procedures required for a student visa.
Key contacts for US embassies and consulates are listed in the US State Department publication, Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts. It provides information about US embassies and consulates worldwide. See also the Consular Information Sheets, which provide key information such as the location of the US embassy or consulate in each country.
A good source of information about visas is the US State Department’s Visa Services web page.
There are also two Usenet newsgroups devoted to discussions of US visas: alt.visa.us and misc.immigration.usa.
Questions about visas may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will get a quicker response, however, if you contact your local US consulate or embassy.
Once you are in the US, check your visa status carefully before traveling to other countries. Your visa must permit multiple entry. Otherwise, you might not be allowed to re-enter the US when you return from your trip. It is very difficult to get a new US visa outside your home country and the US if you’ve been denied re-entry into the US.
For students on an F-1 visa, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter the US, and your I-20 must have been signed by the foreign student advisor within the past six months. You must also have a valid F-1 visa stamped in your passport and carry documentation of financial support. The rules for students on a J-1 visa are similar, except the IAP-66 form must have been signed by your sponsor within the past year. But there are exceptions for students on both visas, especially for students who have changed their visa type while in the US or who come from certain countries, so check with your international student advisor before any trip outside the US, including trips to Canada or Mexico. There are also limits on the amount of time you may stay outside the US before your visa becomes invalid.
Information about entrance requirements may be obtained from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). INS Forms may be obtained by calling 1-800-870-FORM (1-800-870-3676).
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is used to maintain entry and exit information about international students and exchange visitors in the United States.
A list of sites devoted to the topics of visas and immigration can be found in the Immigration Issues section of this site.