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Special Announcement

The University Office of Global Programs (Global Penn State) will be closed December 24 through January 2 for winter break and staff will have limited access to email.

Offices will reopen Monday, January 5, 2015. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Note: Individual staff days off may vary.

 

Passport and Visa Information

Passports

Passports are an official identity document issued by your own government.  All students must have a passport in order to participate in any education abroad program, and it must be valid for at least 6 months past the end date of your program of study.

The front cover of a U.S. passport, showing the U.S. Great Seal at center. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of State.

How To Get a Passport

U.S. citizens can apply for a passport through the US Department of State or the State College Post Office (main office), 237 S. Fraser Street. All students traveling outside of North America will need a passport book.

If you are not a US citizen, contact the nearest embassy or consulate of your country of origin for information on acquiring or renewing your passport.

Tips

  • Sign your passport as soon as you get it.
  • Guard your passport. Always keep your passport on your person while traveling.
  • Make a photocopy of the identification pages of your passport and keep them in a safe place (separate from your passport), along with two extra passport photos. You may want to store these with a list of credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and telephone numbers for canceling lost or stolen credit cards.
  • Leave extra photocopies of the identification pages of your passport with a family member. Make sure that at least one family member has a valid passport in case you become seriously ill and need your family to travel to be with you.

Lost Passports

Loss or theft of a US passport should be reported immediately to the Passport Services office at the US Department of State in Washington, DC (202-955-0430) or to the nearest US consulate or embassy in your host country, local police authorities, and your on-site coordinator. The US Department of State or local consulate will assist you in replacing your passport.

Two inside pages of a U.S. passport with several visa stamps. Photo by Daniel Clayton Greer (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons.

Visas

Many participants will need to acquire a visa prior to studying abroad. A visa is an immigration document granting approval from the host government to enter and stay in the country for a designated amount of time and for a specific purpose. The visa often comes as a sticker in the passport.

Keep in Mind

  • Students are ultimately responsible for obtaining their visa; this includes researching specific visa requirements, acquiring all necessary documents and submitting the visa application.
  • Education Abroad advisers can provide guidance to students during the visa process, but please be aware that only the immigration officials of your host country can answer specific visa questions.
  • General visa information will be provided to students during the mandatory in-person pre-departure orientation.
  • Not every country requires a visa for US citizens; requirements and policies will often differ for non-US citizens.
  • Some countries have specific immigration requirements that may limit or prohibit entry based on citizenship.
  • Some students may be able to apply online; others may have to appear in person to submit their application.
  • In most cases, students cannot apply for a visa more than 90 days in advance of their travel.
A stack of materials that may be needed to acquire a visa, including a passport, driver's license and two miscellaneous documents.

Examples of Visa Documents

Visa requirements vary by host country and student citizenship status, but the following are examples of common visa documents:

  • Completed visa application form.
  • Copies of recent passport-sized photograph.
  • Valid passport plus one photocopy.
  • Original copy of permanent residence card (for non-US citizens).
  • Original and copy of driver's license or state ID.
  • Official letter of acceptance from your host institute.
  • Proof of financial means.
  • Proof of health insurance

​Do not use this list to apply for a visa! Check with the embassy, consulate or immigration office of your host country for specific visa requirements and instructions.