1. What is a visa?
A visa is authorization that is obtained by a host country for an individual to enter and stay legally in that country for a specific purpose and period of time. In most cases, applicants are required to apply for a visa in advance from the host country's nearest Consulate (usually in Chicago or Detroit).
2. Do I need a visa to study abroad?
Depending on the country, you may or may not need a visa to enter your host country. In some cases, a travel agent or other service agencies will be able to assist you with this process for a fee. Many countries have the visa application on the Internet, others require you to make the request and have the application sent directly to you. In most cases, you will be assessed a fee for obtaining a visa.
3. What documents will I need to apply for a visa?
A number of documents may be required in order to apply for a visa, such as: acceptance letter from the host institution, proof of financial resources, proof of return airfare, photos, and/or other documentation. The requirements and fees will vary from country to country and are often dependent on how long you plan to stay in the country and the purpose of your stay. Be sure to plan ahead.
4. How long does it take to get a visa?
The process for obtaining a visa can take anytime from several weeks to several months.
For additional information on visa requirements, contact the nearest consulate of the country you plan to visit, or go to http://travel.state.gov and review the travel advisory section for details on entry requirements.
PLEASE NOTE: Some locations (including Spain and Chile) will require students to have an FBI background check in order to obtain a visa. If fingerprints are needed for an FBI background check, these can be taken at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, located at 12220 Fillmore Street, West Olive, MI 49460. They can be contacted by phone at (616) 738-4025. Fingerprints are done from 8:00am-4:00pm, but they ask that you arrive by 3:30pm to fill out the appropriate paperwork. No appointment is necessary. You need to bring your driver’s license and they do charge $10 for a fingerprint card.
Students studying in France for more than 90 days must apply to Campus France 60-90 days prior to departure. If you do not apply for Campus France 60-90 days prior to your departure, you may have difficulties securing a visa by the time you depart.
Students studying in Spain for more than 90 days must apply for a visa to enter Spain. Students should apply for a visa for Spain a minimum of 8 weeks prior to departure. The Spanish Consulate will accept applications up to 120 days prior to departure. Students should aim to apply for their visa for Spain between 90-120 days prior to departure.
Students intending to study in the UK for a maximum of 6 months, who do not wish to work during their stay, can seek entry to the UK on arrival, as a student visitor, without prior entry clearance (visa). Students who plan to study in the UK for more than 6 months must apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa. Students who intend to partake in paid or unpaid employment or internships should carefully read the UK visa requirements for additional information.
The visa processing usually takes 6-12 weeks. No applications are taken more than 90 days prior to start date.
NonEU Citizens traveling to Europe
The link below will be of use to non EU citizens traveling to Europe from countries that offer reciprocal visa arrangements (visa waiver or visa exemption programs).
Destination Consular Offices:
Click on the following links to find the most accurate and up-to-date information about visa requirements for your study abroad destination.
Page last modified February 28, 2014