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Passports & Visas

Passport

All students will need a valid passport in order to travel abroad. When you arrive in your host country, you will be asked to show your passport before being allowed to pass through immigration control. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date you will return to the U.S. For example, if your program ends in June, your passport should be valid through at least December of the same year. Please check your passport expiration date now.

If you are a U.S. citizen and need a new passport, visit the State Department's international travel page and follow the instructions to obtain a new passport. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact your home country's consulate or embassy about renewing or obtaining a new passport.

  • Embassies are the headquarters for ambassadors from foreign countries. They are involved in country relations, consular affairs (such as issuing visas), and all matters related to citizens of their own country residing or traveling in a foreign country.
  • Consulates are branch offices of an embassy. One of their purposes is to handle visa matters for a given geographical area. Many countries have both an embassy and one or more consulates in a foreign country.

Visa

In addition to showing your passport at immigration control, many countries require visitors to obtain a visa before entering the country. For immigration purposes, a visa is a form of permission that allows a traveler to legally enter a foreign country. It is usually in the form of a stamp or sticker in your passport. Each country has its own requirements and visa application procedures for foreign visitors. As a result, the Study Abroad Office is not able to provide comprehensive assistance with visa application procedures.

Therefore, you are fully responsible for informing yourself about, and following through with, the visa application process.

You should either work directly with your host country's embassy or consulate, or seek the services of a visa agency. Below are a few resources to get you started on obtaining your visa:

Helpful tips and hints for obtaining a visa:

  • Start early. Some visa applications may take up to two months.
  • Pay close attention to the instructions and specifications for all supporting documents required for the visa application.
  • Be courteous when interacting with an embassy/consulate visa officer - remember that you are asking for permission to stay in their country; embassies are not required to give you a visa.
  • Make sure that you look at requirements for entry as a student, unless you are permitted to or have been advised to enter as a tourist.
  • If you have any questions regarding the visa process, please contact the visa agent with whom you are working, or the consulate or embassy of the host country directly.

Visiting other countries while studying abroad

If you plan to visit other countries before, during, or after your study abroad program, you will also want to look into their visa requirements. For instance, if you are studying abroad in Spain and you decide to travel to Morocco on your own, you should look up the entry and exit requirements for Morocco.

Additional Supporting Documents

Besides your passport and visa, you may need to provide additional documents for entry into certain countries. Examples of these additional documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Your letter of acceptance from your host university
  • Proof of departure, usually in the form of a return flight
  • Proof of sufficient finances for the time you will be abroad
  • Proof of insurance
  • Please refer to the acceptance packet from your host university or study abroad program for details.

If you are not a U.S. citizen and need to return to the U.S. to continue your studies after studying abroad, please make sure that you pack and carry all necessary documents and authorizations to re-enter the U.S. after your program ends. For more information, please contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, isss@illinois.edu.

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