VISA (Official foreign government document-entry requirement in most countries)
Obtaining a visa (entry permit) is your responsibility as a study abroad participant, and may take from one to three months, so begin early. A visa is official permission to visit a country and is granted by that country. Some countries require a student or long-term stay visa; some countries do not. To learn about the requirements for your host country and any countries you might visit while abroad go to travel.state.gov. Find your host country and the appropriate consulate office. You will apply to the host country consulate located in the US that has jursidiction over the state of your permanent residency.
On their website or in the documentation that accompanies your visa application, the embassy/consulate will usually indicate how long it will take to process the visa; it will generally take less time than indicated. If your passport is not returned within three weeks, contact the office to which you sent your passport and inquire as to the status.
To apply for a visa you will send your passport and student visa application and any other required documentation* via certified mail, UPS or Fed X (the consulate will usually indicate a preference) along with a return, self-addressed self-paid envelope, to the appropriate address in the U.S. They will stamp your passport with the visa and return it to you.
PLEASE NOTE: In some cases, you may be requested to apply in person for the visa. Please review instructions carefully as you make plans to obtain your visa in a timely manner.
* Required documentation might include a statement from the host institution that you have been accepted to study at the university, a statement from your program that fees have been paid, a bank statement reflecting sufficient financial resources to cover your stay, and your financial aid award letter to show the funds you are to receive and/or a statement that you have accommodations in the host country. Of course, other documentation might be required so carefully read the instructions.
Prior to sending your passport to the Embassy/Consulate, make sure you have made a copy of the passport photo page and of all documentation you send.
Contact the Embassy of your study abroad country for the most up-to-date entry requirements. Visa requirements can change at a moment's notice!
In general, students who plan to study for a semester need an entry visa/permit. If studying for a summer program, or for less than 90 days, many countries do not require a special visa entry permit. International students who study on USU programs, will need to contact the appropriate country consulate for specific entry requirements for any length of stay. Requirements that apply for entry into a host country may differ for non-US nationals.
TIP: Visit the ISEP (USU partner program) country handbooks online at www.isep.org. An excellent resource for information about visa and entry requirements for most countries.