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Applying for a Student Visa

Is a student visa required?
In many countries students are required to obtain a visa in order to study for a summer, semester, or year. It is best to consult either the embassy or consulate website to find out their visa requirements. If you are going through a program that has handled student visas in the past, they may be able to provide guidance and advice as to whether or not you will need a visa.

What is the process for applying for a student visa?
The visa process varies from embassy to embassy, so it is best to contact the consulate or embassy directly. Important information to know is the average time it takes to process a visa and whether you should apply in the jurisdiction where you go to school or through your permanent residence.

What are the requirements to obtain a student visa?
Each country will have different requirements, however, the items that are most typically required are photos, a fee, proof of funds to support the student while abroad, proof of enrollment, proof of housing in country, fingerprints or other biometrics, etc.

In some cases, you may need to show that you do not have a criminal background. Depending on the country, this may be done through your local police station.

Some countries specifically require an FBI background check. If you are applying to a country that requires an FBI background check, it may be wise to start that process before getting accepted to your program in order to speed up the visa process.

Do I have to appear in person at the embassy or consulate to obtain a student visa?
For some countries, you do need to appear in person to obtain your visa. For others, you may be able to use a visa service that acts as a stand in for you. If you do not need to be physically present to obtain your visa, some agencies you can consider using include Zierer Visa Service or Perry Visa.

If I am not a U.S. citizen, can I apply for a student visa through a consulate in the United States?
This will depend on both your country and the country you wish to study abroad in. Please refer to the embassy or consulate page of the country you want to study abroad in.

When should I apply for my student visa and how long will the process take?
Visa processing can take as little as a few days to several months, depending on the country to which you are applying. It is important to plan time for visa processing, particularly if you are applying to study abroad in the spring semester when the time between acceptance to the program and departure is very short.

Will consulates make exceptions and allow for emergency applications if I am leaving sooner than the standard processing time?
In general, trying to rush an application is not advised. However, if it is necessary, it is best to review the website of the consulate or embassy to see if this is a possibility.

Can I obtain a student visa once I am overseas?
In many cases, students are able to obtain a tourist visa prior to leaving or upon entry to the country and change it during the course of the semester. However, it is important to research this in advance in order to know the legal ramifications of coming in under the wrong visa status.

Can I extend my visa in country (for a second semester, for example)?
In certain countries it is very challenging to extend. In others it is very easy to make the change. Generally speaking, this is something you should discuss with your host university or program in order to determine if it is feasible.

Can I travel after the program even if my student visa has expired?
Each country handles this differently. Some countries are very strict about travel after a visa is expired while others are not. It is recommended that you do extensive research before deciding to travel with an expired visa as fines can be costly and while you may be able to enter a different country, you may end up stuck in a situation where you are unable to return to your original country of study.

If I am having problems obtaining my visa, what should I do?
If you are having a problem with your visa, please contact the consulate directly. If the problem persists, CIE can contact the consulate on your behalf to try and resolve the situation.