Apply for a passport as soon as you know you want to study abroad since it can take up to 12 weeks to get one. Already have a passport? Check the expiration date: if it’s going to expire within six months of your return date, you should renew your passport by mail. For more information about U.S. passports and to download and complete passport applications and renewals, visit the official U.S. passport website.
Your passport is your most important legal document while you are abroad so please keep it safe. We recommend that you make at least (2) copies of the photo and information page before you leave so you can give one to a family member and take one with you.
Some countries may require that you carry your passport at all times. Consult with your program director about the requirements and expectations in your host country. When traveling within your host country or from one country to another, remember to carry your passport and be prepared when immigration officials and hostels/hotels ask for it.
If you’re an international student, you’ll need to secure (and check the expiration) of your re-entry visa. Students who are not U. S. citizens should also be certain to verify visa status on the consulate website for the host country.
Office of International Programs Visa Policy
While OIP staff can provide basic advising and assistance relating to the visa process (look up web sites, instructions, etc), it is ultimately a student's responsibility to obtain the necessary paperwork in order to apply for a visa (if needed) for study abroad. OIP staff will provide students with visa support letters when required, and can help students with scanning, faxing and copying any necessary documentation related to the visa process.
A visa is typically a sticker or stamp that is inserted into a page on your passport that allows you to enter the country. Visas are issued in a variety of categories including visitor, work and student.
To find out whether you will need to apply for a visa, and what type, before departure, contact our office, your host program or university, or visit the website of the consulate in the US for the country where your program is based. For most countries, students generally cannot start the visa application process until 90 days prior to departure. If you will be issued a visa upon arrival (a stamp in your passport), you will need to carry with you documents related to your program. Typically, this includes flight itinerary (showing return ticket), bank statements, a letter of acceptance from your host institution and/or home university, and other documents specific to your host country and/or program.
The Association of International Educators (NAFSA) provides information designed to assist with the visa application process. NAFSA's EA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members review these pages regularly for accuracy, but the consulate to which the student applies for a visa may change its procedures. Students should always confirm specific procedures with each relevant consulate.
If you’re an international student, you will most likely have a slightly different process for your visa application: students who are not U. S. citizens must verify visa status on the consulate website for the country where their program is based. You’ll also need to secure (and check the expiration) of your re-entry visa. In some cases, international students can apply for the visa from the US; in other cases, it’s better to apply from the home country. In both cases, it depends on the timing—i.e. when you are leaving the US at the end of the semester and when you will need your visa for study abroad. Make sure to start researching early so that you can make an informed decision.
- The best visa resource is the website of the relevant embassy or consulate. Check this website before beginning the process to ensure you fully understand the requirements and do not run into any obstacles.
- Consulates generally have very limited open hours to receive phone calls. Mornings are best to try to reach someone and sometimes email is more effective in terms of response time.
- The visa process can vary from consulate to consulate. For example, the Italian Consulate in Miami may ask for different forms than the consulate in NYC. Make sure you review the specific consulate website and don’t depend on what your friend has to do as s/he may be applying to different consulate. Find out if you need to apply in the jurisdiction where you go to school or where your permanent residence is located. For example, if you are applying for a Spanish visa, and you attend school in Florida but live in Georgia, and are going home for the summer, you must be prepared to drive, fly, or take a bus or train to Miami. We cannot ask them to make any exceptions for you.
- Depending on the visa regulations for your program’s country, you may not be able to apply for a visa until 60-90 days prior to the program start date.
- Research the average time it takes to process a visa. It may take as little as two weeks or up to 12 weeks. In most cases, it is advisable to NOT make plans to travel internationally before the start of your program.
- Keep in mind that when applying for a visa, whether in person or via mail, you have to surrender your physical passport with your application materials.
- If an appointment is required with the consulate, please book your appointment well in advance! Appointments fill up fast and it is often not possible to book an appointment only 1-2 weeks in advance. If no appointment is required, arrive as early in the morning as possible and be prepared to stay in line until it is your turn. Once you meet with someone, it usually only takes a short time for them to review your documents.
- Requirements vary, but in general, you can expect to provide the following when applying for a visa: demographic information about yourself and your parents, including dates and places of birth; your passport; your round-trip plane ticket; acceptance letter to your study abroad program and/or host institution; enrollment verification letter; detailed financial information, notarized (e.g., bank statements for the family and/or student, financial aid letter, etc.) and proof of health insurance coverage abroad. Additional information may be required depending on type of visa and destination country.
- It may seem strange to share personal information like bank statements, but please submit the requested information exactly as asked or you risk not getting your visa.
- Make sure you monitor your e-mail carefully and constantly so that you do not miss any necessary information for obtaining your visa: sometimes a consular officer may contact you for updated or additional information that you can fax, scan or mail to him/her.
- Most countries require that students appear in person to obtain their visa. However, it may be possible to use a visa processing service/agent that acts as a stand-in for the student. Please be advised that there is often an additional cost for using this visa processing service/agent.
- Each type of visa has certain stipulations. In many instances, students are not allowed to work if they only have a student visa. If you wish to intern or work while abroad, please make sure you do the necessary research and find out the appropriate information in order to obtain the correct visa.
- For Rollins Approved Programs: In December for the spring semester and July for the fall semester, students will receive a credit on the Student Account to off-set the out of pocket cost associated with their visa.
- Most of all, be patient, prepared and remember to breathe! The visa application process is can be the most overwhelming and time-consuming part leading up to going abroad. Keep in mind the end result!