A visa is a stamp or sticker, placed in the passport, granting permission from the embassy of a country for admission into the country.
Visa requirements vary by country, so be sure to follow the instructions posted on the embassy website. Some embassies will require you to apply within the jurisdiction of your permanent residence. The U.S. Department of State's Travel site offers details on country specific requirements. International Students, permanent residents, and non US citizens traveling abroad must make an appointment with Denise Allison, Director of International Student Services for advice and to review completion of any additional paperwork to facilitate an easy departure and reentry to the US.
Obtaining a visa can take anywhere from 14-90 days. Depending on the country, you may be required to apply for your visa in person at regional offices, or mail in all application materials. Do not make any travel plans that will conflict with the timing of the visa application process. During the visa application process you will not have access to your passport since you are required to mail it to or leave it at the embassy.
Once you receive your completed visa, make two copies of the visa page as well as the passport photo page. Bring one with you and leave one with a family member. This will facilitate replacement if yours is lost or stolen.
Types of Visas
Depending on your type of trip and length of stay, your visa type may be different. U.S. citizens should visit the U.S. State Department website to find detailed information on the country they will be visiting. International, permanent residents, and non-US citizens should contact the International Student Services Office (ISSO) to go over their visa options.
In most cases, study abroad students will need a student visa to study outside of the U.S. but will not be able to apply for one until their program issues an official letter of acceptance. A student visa is issued by the embassy of the country where a student will be studying and is for a limited period of time. Some countries do not expect students to obtain a student visa before departure but may require that students file for a visa upon entry at the airport. In some instances, student visas can be expedited (for a fee) by special visa agencies.
The visitor visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter countries temporarily for business or for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment. Many countries do not require a visitor visa for trips under 90 days, but always check in advance before departure. In some countries, you will pay for a visitor visa upon entry.
A work visa allows U.S. citizens to obtain work in a country other than the United States. Most of the time, students studying abroad on a student visa should not plan to work abroad because they will not likely be granted a work visa. Each country has specific requirements to grant foreigners work visas. Students on unpaid internships may also be required to obtain a work visa. Check with your program for more details.
A business visa allows a U.S. citizen who is invited to another country for business reasons to enter the country for a limited period of time. Proper documentation to prove the relationship between U.S. citizen and foreign company/entity is required.