A visa is official permission to stay in a country for an extended amount of time. Visas are granted by the government of the country in which you are studying or visiting and are sometimes referred to as a residence permit. Visa formats vary considerably, from a simple stamp imprinted on one of the pages in your passport prior to entering the country, to an official document with your photograph attached. Some countries do not require visitors to obtain a student visa to enter their country to study; instead, visitors receive a tourist visa prior to departure or upon entry when passing through customs. Some countries and consulates may require an in person visit to apply for your visa which may require you to travel to the consulate. Some visa application processes require you to surrender your original passport to the consulate/embassy, where it will remain until your visa is issued. The processing time for visas may be lengthy and if they are not started in a timely manner, could affect your ability to leave by your departure date.
All students are provided a site-specific Visa Guide by the USAC Central Office, which includes relevant visa information and (in some cases) required letters and documents needed for their specific application. Site-specific information will also be posted to your Student Gateway account. If you have not received this information at least three months prior to your departure date, please contact your USAC Program Advisor as soon as possible.
The USAC Central Office offers a group visa submission for certain consulate jurisdictions for France, Czech Republic, Italy, and Spain. This is a free service, included as part of your program fees, in which your USAC Program Advisor will assist in submitting your visa application and supporting documents to the consulate on your behalf.
You are responsible for any fees and costs associated with your visa application process (including Group Visa submissions). This includes fees imposed by the consulate, along with personal costs like passport fees, shipping, passport photos, document copies, notarizations, travel, etc.
We do not recommend that you enter a foreign country without a visa when one is required; you may risk being deported and USAC will be unable to assist you. While USAC is here to offer guidance in this process, it is ultimately your responsibility to determine whether or not you will be required to obtain a visa prior to departure, compile the necessary documentation, and complete the application process.
You may be required to obtain a specific type of visa prior to departure. Check with your home country consulate/embassy, as well as the Consulate/Embassy of the country you’ll be traveling to regarding visa requirements. You should begin researching your visa application process immediately. It is your responsibility to determine specific visa requirements and acquire your visa prior to the start of your program.