Passports and Visas
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.
How To Get a Passport
U.S. citizens can apply for a passport through the U.S. Department of State or in person at the State College Post Office (main office), 237 S. Fraser Street. University Park campus recently had a Passport Office open on campus to serve the University and local community. All students traveling outside of North America will need a passport book.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the nearest embassy or consulate of your country of origin for information on acquiring or renewing your passport.
Your U.S. passport, although issued in your name, remains the property of the U.S. government. Take good care of it at all times!
- Guard your passport. Always keep your passport in a safe place, and while traveling, keep it on your person (ideally, in a hidden pouch under your clothes) rather than in a piece of luggage.
- 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.
- 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.
Loss or theft of a US passport should be reported immediately to the Passport Services office at the U.S. 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.
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 may be able to provide some 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.
- 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.
Examples of Visa Application Documents
Visa requirements vary by host country and student citizenship status, but the following are examples of common visa application 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.