Obtaining your student visa is a crucial part of your overall preparation to study abroad. While certain countries and short term programs do not require a visa, it is a necessary document for many students studying abroad.
A student visa provided by the host country confirms that you are approved to study there. Your student visa lets you stay in your host country longer than a typical tourist. Visa requirements and application processes vary greatly by country, so be sure to contact your host country’s embassy or consulate to learn the specifics for your trip. Visit the State Department's U.S. Visa website to see if you need a visa for the country where you plan to study.
Your study abroad adviser or program director should be able to give you information about visa requirements specific to your host country. In fact, some program providers will help you apply for your visa. However, other programs leave it up to the student to arrange their visa. Check with your program contacts to learn more about whether this is your responsibility or if they will assist you.
If you are planning to study abroad for two consecutive terms in different countries, be aware that you may not receive your second visa in time for the start of the second term. If possible, try to apply for the second visa in the first country where you are studying abroad. Otherwise, plan to return to the U.S. in time to get the second visa.
Tips for Getting Your Visa
Student visas are typically attached to your passport, so having a passport is a MUST before getting your visa.
The cost and timeline for getting your visa varies from country to country. Some countries will require you to apply in person at the closet consulate, while others will let you apply for a student visa online or by mail. Begin the process several months before departure. Be respectful, pleasant, and polite to consulate staffers. They will be more willing to help you.
Must Ask Questions:
- How long and where will I be studying abroad? Do I need a visa?
- What is the visa application process like?
- How long does it take to get my visa?
- Where do I apply for my visa?
- How much does the visa cost?
- Is an interview required?
Items Needed for Your Visa:
When you are applying for a visa, you will need to have certain documents, which may include:
- Acceptance letter from the institution where you will be studying
- Medical evaluation or doctor's letter attesting to your health
- Your passport
- Student ID card
- Financial documents
- Academic qualifications and test scores
- National criminal background check
Be sure to allow extra time to obtain some of these documents, such as the criminal background check.
To ensure you have the appropriate documents, please check with your host country’s embassy or consulate for specific, detailed information on their visa requirements.
Remember, it is a good idea to call, email or fax the embassy or consulate to confirm the requirements. Sometimes the requirements change, but the website is not updated. Visit the State Department's U.S. Visa website to learn more.