Passports and Visas
Your passport may be the most important document you will have while traveling abroad. It serves as proof of citizenship, and is necessary to enter and return from almost every country in the world. You can apply for a passport at the UNCW Passport Acceptance Agency located in the Fisher University Union, (beside the Post Office), or at the downtown Post Office on Front Street. For instructions on obtaining or renewing a passport read the UNCW Quick Guide to U.S. Passports or visit the Department of State website. The application process typically takes from four to eight weeks. However, we recommend youapply four months prior to your scheduled departure.
When applying for a passport, you need the following:
- Completed application (available in UNCW’s Passport Office)
- One passport photo
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Evidence of identity
- Application fee (Typically $135: $110 Application Fee, $25 Execution Fee)
If you already have a passport:
- Check to make sure that it has not expired and will not expire for at least six months past your planned return to the U.S.
- If your passport is expired or needs to be renewed you may be able to renew by mail provided your most recent passport meets certain conditions; if it does not, you will have to apply in person. Visit the Department of State website for information on passport renewals
- Please note, the UNCW Passport Acceptance Agency does not process passport renewal applications.
For more information, visit the UNCW Passport Acceptance Agency.
A student visa or residency permit may be necessary for you to enter and study in your host country. A visa is an official stamp or document affixed within a passport that is issued by the foreign government. Typically, students planning to study 90 days or more are required to obtain a visa. However, some countries require all students to apply for a visa, regardless of the length of the program. Check the Department of State website for country-specific information on visa requirements. Visa information can be found under the Entry/Exit Requirements of each country.
Applying for a Visa
If your host country and/or length of stay necessitates that you have a visa, you will need to apply to your host country's regional Consulate that has jurisdiction over your home state. Depending on the Consulate, you will need to apply either in person, online or by mail. Each Consulate sets its own timeline for accepting and processing student visa applications. Typically, you may not be allowed to apply more than 60 or 90 days before your program begins. (For example, if your program starts on January 15, the earliest you could apply for your visa could be November 15, or possibly October 15.) But you should also know the latest date for submission. If the Consulate says apply "at least" 60 days before your program departure, this means no less than 60 days. For some Consulates, this window can extend even to 120 days before departure. Check the website of your host country's Consulate for timelines and submit your visa application at the earliest possible acceptance date to avoid delays!
Consider applying for a year-long visa if you are going abroad for the fall semester and there is a chance that you might decide to remain for the spring semester. Some countries will not allow you to renew your visa while abroad, which means you would have to come back to the U.S. to renew for the second semester.
You will need a valid passport in order to apply for a visa. Visas are usually stamped or attached to the inside of your passport, so be prepared to temporarily surrender your passport to the Consulate.
Each country has different application requirements, so read any instructions carefully.
Items you MAY need to submit include:
- Application form - Obtain the form from your host country's Consulate website. When filling it out, be sure to write clearly with a dark pen, never a pencil.
- Application fee - This varies widely by country. Verify how the Consulate will accept payment. Most will NOT accept a personal check and will only accept money orders in U.S. dollars.
- A valid passport
- A driver's license
- One or more passport-sized photos
- A letter from the Office of International Programs confirming your student status.
- An official letter of acceptance from your overseas institution or program provider. Many Consulates require the original letter, not a copy.
- A letter of financial support (from your bank) to prove that you have enough funds for your time abroad. Most Consulates require the original document. Do not black out account numbers on bank documents unless the Consulate has given permission or instructions to do so.
- Documentation of your travel plans (i.e. roundtrip ticket or copy of itinerary)
Before submitting, make copies of your visa application and all supporting documents. Read application instructions carefully, to see if any documents (i.e. the acceptance letter and/or bank statements) need to be notarized. Submit materials in the order listed in the instructions. Do not staple if instructions ask you to glue, and visa-versa, as this could delay processing.
Traveling and Visa Requirements
If you plan to travel while you are abroad, you should find out whether tourist or student visas are required for the countries you intend to visit. If so, they may be obtained from each country's embassy or consular office. It is wise to investigate visa regulations before you depart the U.S., so that you are aware of how much time to allow for the process.
- (Source: The College of William and Mary)
Additional Links (External Links)
- American Passport Express
A non-government service which works with the U.S. Passport Agency to return U.S. passports in less than a week for emergencies.
- Embassy Worldwide
Contact information and website addresses for embassies and consulates around the world, including foreign embassies in the U.S. and U.S. embassies worldwide.
A non-government service which works with the U.S. Passport Agency and Foreign Embassies to assist with expediting U.S. Passports and Travel Visas.
We are a nationally recognized US passport and visa service. We work with the United States Passport Agency to obtain your US passport application in as little as 24 hours.