You will need a passport, valid for at least six months past your expected return date from your time abroad. You will not be able to apply for your visa until you have your passport in hand. Your program may need to have a copy of the information pages of your passport for ticketing and we recommend making an extra copy to leave at home. In the case of a lost or stolen passport, it’s easier to replace if someone has this information on hand.
If you don’t yet have a passport, apply for one as soon as possible. If it is set to expire within the year, renew it, because many countries now enforce the six months’ rule. Consider paying for the rush service as delays are often long. Check the U.S. Passport Service office to learn where and how to apply, download forms, check applications status and more.
For first-time applicants or renewals you may need:
• Application forms
• Proof of U.S. citizenship (i.e., certified copy of your birth certificate)
• Proof of identity (i.e., a valid driver’s license)
• Two (2) identical photographs (2 inches x 2 inches with white background)
• Your social security number
You must submit your application to a post office. Do NOT send your application by mail.
Most countries require students to obtain a student visa in advance in order to enter and study in their country. You cannot apply for a visa until you have a passport (valid until at least six months after your return) and have been accepted to your program or host university. So you must first apply for a passport if you do not have one.
Visa requirements vary from country to country and are different depending on the student’s country of origin.
The visa application process can take some time so don’t leave it until the last minute, and you can minimize problems by applying as early as possible (but not too soon). Requirements and application procedures vary depending on your citizenship, the country to which you are going, and where you will be at the time of application; they may also vary from one consulate to another (that is, the French consulate in New York may have different procedures from the French consulate in Boston). Some consulates require that you appear in person to submit your visa application, while others allow you to process the visa by mail or online. International students may have additional requirements or limitations. In most cases, you will need to allow 30-90 days for application processing, and there may be a specific window within which you must apply (for example, no less than one month and no more than three months before your program begins). If you apply through the mail, keep a copy of all documents sent. It is safest to send and receive all materials via FedEx or another reliable courier service. Also, keep in mind that if you will travel through other countries on the way to your destination, you may need to obtain a visa to pass through that country. Check on this well before departure.
It is your responsibility to determine the requirements and to apply for a visa in a timely fashion. You will usually need proof of admission or enrollment in a program or university in order to apply for the visa so it is important that you follow your program/university’s guidelines on this carefully. In some cases, a personal appointment at the consulate is required and in others the process can be done by mail or online.
In order to obtain a student visa, one or more of the following may be required:
• Visa application form
• Current, valid passport
• Visa application fee
• One or more passport-size photographs
• Letter of acceptance from your host institution or program
• Evidence of financial support during your period of study abroad
• Physical examination
• Proof of medical insurance
• Police record from Vermont and/or your home state
• A negative HIV test
If you plan to travel to other countries within your period of study abroad or after your program finishes, check the entrance requirements of each country before you leave home. It is your responsibility to make sure you have proper documentation abroad.
A word of advice: DO NOT wait until the last minute to apply for your student visa! As with passports, this can take many weeks to process, and if you do not have a valid student visa (and passport), you could miss your flight and/or program.
To determine whether or not you need a visa, you may either contact your program provider or consult the relevant consulate. U.S. citizens can find some information on visa requirements for many countries on the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage. Or search for the country’s consulate in the jurisdiction in which you reside.
International students should contact the appropriate consulate in the U.S or in your home country or contact your home country embassy for information. The procedures that you will follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures. International students must visit their to obtain a signature on visa documents to permit re-entry into the United States.
Your program or university abroad should provide you some guidance. Your first step is generally to search for the Consulate of the country you are going to located within your jurisdiction (i.e where you are a resident or attend school).
Embassy and consulate information is available at:
Country Specific entry requirements (U.S. Citizens)
Foreign Embassies in the US
Foreign Consulates in the US
List of all embassies and consulates in the US
embassies and consulates in the US
embassies and consulates worldwide
Students participating in programs in the United Kingdom should be especially careful with visa regulations. Visit UKBA visa webpage for more information.
In all cases closely follow your program/university’s guidelines.
You will need several photos for a passport and any visa. They must be recent, in the “passport format” and cannot be scanned. You can have passport size photos taken in Waterville at:
- CVS Pharmacy
- Rite Aid Pharmacy
- Elm City photo
Notarizing documents on campus
If you require notarized documents for your visa, you may take them to any notary public. The notary on campus is Alan LaPan in the student mailroom on campus.
Do NOT sign your documents in advance: you must sign them in the notary’s presence, and you must show identification.
FBI Background Checks
Some countries require an FBI background check as part of the visa application. The FBI web page has information on requesting a background check. Contact your local police department for fingerprinting.
International Student Identity Card
If your program does not require it you may consider getting an international student identity card. This card carries supplemental health and travel insurance, is recognized worldwide and can be used to obtain student discounts in many destinations—on everything from travel, museums and theater to haircuts, meals and movies. The cost of the card is approximately $22.
The card’s main purpose is to serve as proof of student status, enabling card holders to qualify for student discounts abroad. Card benefits vary widely from country to country, but may include student discounts on airfare, transportation, accommodations, and reduced admission to museums, theaters, cultural events, and other attractions. Students report that the card is most useful in Europe, less so in Africa, though it may help you get a student fare on your flight. If you purchase an ISIC, you will be given an ISIC handbook that lists exactly which nations recognize the card, the types of discounts, and the addresses and phone numbers of student travel offices around the world. Besides the student discounts, the ISIC provides free travel insurance (good for before and after your program dates), an emergency help line, and a communications system (phone card). If you should need to use the insurance benefits, you will need to have a copy of your card and proof of purchase for any claim.
Note: The ISIC validity period usually runs from late summer of each year to December 31 of the following year; if your card expires while you are abroad, you can apply for a new one. However, note that cards bought outside of the US do not include the accident and sickness insurance coverage.
Other international ID cards are also available. CIEE has recently launched the iNext Travel Card which offers a wide range of benefits for health care, medical evacuation, emergency assistance, and repatriation of remains; it can also work as a global phone card. The iNext Basic card costs $29, the iNext Premium package is $45.
For International Students
Make sure that your passport and F-1 visa will remain valid until your planned return to the US. Check with your Advising Dean’s office to have your I-20 travel signature updated, and make sure you inform the her of your address abroad. Depending on how long you are away, you may need to obtain a new I-20 travel signature before you return to the US.
Carrying Your Documents
Be sure to carry ALL your relevant travel documents in a safe and secure place. For international students, this includes not only your current I-20, but also any earlier ones you may have. All students should also leave copies of their passport pages, visas, and other essential documents with a trusted friend or family member as a precaution. Having a copy of the information will be extremely helpful if a document needs to be replaced.
International Driver’s License
If you are planning to drive a lot while you are abroad, you may need an International Driver’s License, available via the web. Not all countries require an International Driver’s License; check the web site or ask a travel agent for details. Check with your insurance company to see if your US liability insurance is valid abroad.
The WHO Card
The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a little yellow card commonly
called a WHO card, technically called the “International Certificates of
Vaccination,” on which one records all one’s vaccines and pertinent medical
history. In some developing countries, you’ll be required to show your WHO card
before they’ll let you in the country. This always applies in countries that require a
yellow fever vaccination before granting entry to foreign nationals. The Health
Center can set you up with a WHO card, as well as give you information on a
yellow fever vaccination if required by your host country.