Before You Go: Travel Documents
Obtaining necessary travel documents is one of the most crucial (and complex) steps of preparing to study abroad. Students are entirely responsible for getting all required documents prior to departure for their program.
All students traveling to another country will need a valid U.S. passport. If you don’t already have a current passport that will be valid for at least six months after the end date of your program, you should apply for one as soon as you have decided to study abroad. The application can take several months and you can’t apply for a visa without a valid passport. You don’t have to know your destination in order to apply for a passport, so you can begin the application process before you have decided on a program. In fact, you may need your passport in order to complete your program application.
If you are older than 16, you must apply for a passport in person. These documents are required to obtain a passport:
- Passport application
- Two identical passport size photos (2 x 2 inches), taken within the past six months. Passport photos can be taken at the MavCard Services Office at UNO.
- Valid form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license or current government or military ID
- Previous U.S. passport or a certified birth certificate proving U.S. citizenship
Learn more about passport applications, renewals, and where you can apply:
U.S. Department of State: www.travel.state.gov/passport
U.S. Postal Service: www.usps.com/passport
Students are unable to apply for a passport through the Education Abroad Office.
A visa is not the same as a passport. A visa is an official stamp or document that has been issued by a foreign government granting permission for entry specifically to study, work, or live in a particular country. There is no right to a visa, even if you have submitted all required documents.
Students going on programs that are less than 90 days may not need a visa, but most students going on longer-term programs will have to obtain one. Some countries require all students to apply for a visa, regardless of their program length.
Because every country has its own student visa requirements, it is important to visit the consulate website for your program’s country to determine your needs. At travel.state.gov, you can find detailed information about your destination and links to the country’s consulate website.
If you do need a visa, you will have a window of time in which you can apply, and you might have to travel to the country’s consulate in a different state to apply in person. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare the application and make necessary travel arrangements so that you can apply as soon as possible. When you apply, you will be required to leave your passport at the consulate with your application. They will then mail back your passport and visa, but it can take several weeks to process. Don’t plan any international travel in the weeks following your visa application.
You may be required to bring additional documents with you when you apply, including bank statements, doctor’s statements, and many other official forms. This is another reason why it is crucial to begin your research early so that you are fully prepared for your application appointment.
Though a visa is not guaranteed, your chances of receiving one are high as long as you follow directions thoroughly. The Education Abroad Office has no control over the visa application process, so it is your responsibility to follow directions and complete your application within the proper timeframe.
If you would like more in-depth information about passports and visas, there are some helpful resources available in the Education Abroad Office.