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Office of International Studies and Programs


Departments

Travel Documentation

Passports & Visas


Proper documentation and identification is required for entry into foreign countries. Each country has its own special requirements for entry based on your citizenship, purpose of visit, and length of stay. Find out which requirements pertain to your situation, and plan in advance. Obtaining documents from embassies or consulates can take months.

Passport

A passport is a document from your home country that confirms your citizenship. It is the only form of identification recognized everywhere that verifies your citizenship. You need a current passport that is valid beyond the time your program ends. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines may not even allow you to board if this requirement is not met.

For U.S. Citizens

Apply early for a U.S. passport at the U.S. State Department’s Website. The normal processing time is four to six weeks – even longer during the peak travel season (March to August). If you have never had a passport, you may apply to a passport agent at a U.S. Department of State Agency. You can also apply through selected post offices or clerks of any federal, state, or county courthouse. You must apply in person unless you are renewing a passport obtained after you were eighteen.

For International Students

You should consult your home country’s equivalent of the Department of State, or the “citizen’s services” section of your home country’s Consulate in the United States for information on how to obtain and renew your passport.

Visas

A visa is a document, provided by the country where you will be traveling, which allows you to enter the country. You must have a passport before you can apply for a visa. Visa requirements vary from country to country.

The country issuing a visa typically attaches various conditions of stay, such as the territory covered by the visa, dates of validity, period of stay, whether the visa is valid for more than one visit, etc. In some instances, you may need to apply for a visa in person at a consulate.

Visas may be paper documents that are requested and received prior to arrival, or may be a stamp that is placed on your passport upon arrival. Information relating to all visas may be obtained from the embassy or consulate of the country or countries in which you will travel. U.S. citizens may also also consult the U.S. Department of State website for entry requirements. If you are an international student, you can visit your home country’s equivalent institution.

Your visa application may need to include special letters or documents (such as a letter of acceptance from the educational institution or program). Students are encouraged to apply for a visa early to provide ample time for processing. Embassies and Consulates are usually able to issue your student visa 120 days in advance of your program’s registration date.

Some common forms and documentation required to obtain a student visa include:

  • Passport
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Proof of enrollment in a study abroad program
  • 2×2 photograph
  • Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Flight itinerary

Student visas can last from one month to one year depending on the country where you will be studying. If you plan to stay longer, you will need to research if it is possible to extend your visa.

Many countries do not require a visa for U.S. students traveling to their country for less than 90 days. If you are an international student, this provision may not be available to you. Research visa requirements early! If you are an international student, do not sign a contract for your program until you know that you can get the visa you need in the time frame available to you. International students traveling the term before your study abroad program, should plan to apply for your program at the consulate nearest to CWU. This may be Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. You should not plan to apply for a visa in your home country. Applications filed at other consulates are often denied.

The consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling should always be consulted for current visa entry requirements in tandem with the Department of State or equivalent.

If you are traveling to the Schengen Area (most of Western Europe), we advise you to familiarize yourself with the restrictions on periods of stay and the ability to do back-to-back programs or extended travel before or after your program.  You can consult the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA) for Schengen area borders agreement information.

Copies of Travel Documents

Along with your originals, bring a copy of all travel documents and leave copies of your travel documents with a contact in the U.S. and abroad. It is also a good idea to scan your documents and email the copies to yourself and your contact in the U.S. Remember to keep copies in a safe place, separate from where you keep your original documents.

Prescriptions

You may need to have proof of prescriptions with you when you travel. Visit the Medical Precautions and Insurance page of our website for more information on prescriptions.

Confirmation of Good Health

Some countries will require that a health form or letter of good health (confirmation that you are free from certain diseases, etc.) be provided to obtain a visa. If necessary, you should make an appointment with your primary health provider to schedule a general physical assessment.

Confirmation of Vaccinations

Be sure you have all the necessary vaccinations for your destination. You may also be asked to show proof of having received certain vaccinations to travel in regions with endemic diseases, like cholera, yellow fever, etc. You should be able to obtain this documentation from your primary health provider. Visit the Medical Precautions and Insurance page of our website for more information on vaccinations and immunizations.

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