A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports. (Excerpt from the U.S. State Deptartment's Passport website.)
For international travel it is typically required that the passport expiration date be at least 6 months after the date of intended return. Be sure to check the expiration date on your passport early to be sure that you will have time to order a new one if necessary.
Getting a Passport
To learn more about how to obtain a passport, including what documents and items must be presented with the passport application, please visit the U.S. State Department's website. You may also visit a passport acceptance facility (sites can be found via the link above) to inquire about passports and apply for one. The nearest facility to apply for your passport is located on campus at the WildCat Passport Acceptance Facility.
It takes approximately 4-6 weeks for regular processing from the time of application submission to receive your passport. If necessary, you may pay additional fees to have your passport expedited. Expedited passport processing takes approximately 3 weeks from the time the application is submitted.
If you need a passport very quickly, the best method may be to apply in-person at a U.S. Department of State Passport Agency. For more information please visit the U.S. Passports & International Travel website.
If you are required to have a visa to enter the country where you will be studying, it is important for to understand the length of time needed to obtain both the passport and the visa. You MUST have a valid passport before applying for a visa and each process can take a significant amount of time.
A visa may be required in addition to a passport for travel to certain countries depending on your citizenship, purpose of travel, and length of stay in the foreign country. A visa is a stamp or document placed in your passport which authorizes you to enter a particular country, for a specific purpose such as tourism or study. Some countries may require a visa for entry, others may not. Visa requirements vary from country to country and may vary according to your country of citizenship, purpose of travel and duration of your stay. It is the responsibility of each student to determine if a visa is needed for a particular education abroad program. If you are applying for a passport for the first time, it is important to understand the length of time needed to obtain a visa. You MUST have a valid passport BEFORE applying for a visa.
Getting a Visa
To determine whether or not you may need a visa for the country or countries you plan to visit (or are passing through to get to your destination), please refer to the U.S. Department of State. Visa information is located under the Entry/Exit requirements section of the country specific information sheets for each country.
If you require a student visa, apply early as processing a visa can take several weeks or even months. Be aware that to get a visa for some countries you may need to apply in person at the consulate or embassy nearest to you (depending on your state of residence). You will need to submit your passport in order to apply for a visa. Your passport will be held for the duration of the visa application process by the consulate. Some students chose to use visa processing services to process their visas. These organizations provide support services and expedited service if needed. One such visa processing organization is A Briggs [.doc] but there are many others available as well.
Some countries may also require students to obtain a Residence Permit to allow them to stay for longer than 90 days in the host country. Make sure to check whether or not you need a visa or Residence Permit well in advanced of departing for the host country. You may also be required to register with the local authorities upon arrival in your host country or obtain additional travel documentation to remain in the country legally.
International students who are studying abroad must meet with their International Student Advisor, in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at least one month before going abroad in order to ensure that all immigration paperwork is properly updated to protect legal immigration status in the United States. In addition to verifying requirements to maintain legal immigration status in the United States, it is the responsibility of each international student to determine if a visa is needed for a particular education abroad program and to follow the necessary procedures in obtaining the foreign visa. UK International Student and Scholar Services cannot assist in the processing of visas for countries other than the United States.