International students (except Canadians) must appear before a United States consulate or Embassy in order to secure an F-1 or J-1 visa. The following items must be presented at your interview:
If you plan to bring dependents (spouse or children) you will also need to present:
Students are encouraged to apply for a visa as early as possible.
Students with F-1 status who are transferring from an educational institution in the United States should consult with the international student adviser at their present school for instructions on the Immigration Service’s transfer process. This should be done as early as possible to avoid any difficulties.
From NAFSA: Association of International Educators
1999 Annual conference session Consular Affairs Issues: View from the United States