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Applying for Student Visas: What All Students Need to Know

You've most likely heard about it from your CEA admissions counselor or site specialist, from your study abroad advisors at your university, from your friends, and maybe even from your parents. Before you can depart for your adventure abroad, you need to apply for and obtain a student visa (for most study abroad programs).

But what's a visa? Where can you get one? How long does it take? Who needs to be involved? What's the point of having one? Whether you're familiar with student visas or not, we've got you covered with the general basics. Here are the 5 W's of student visas for study abroad:

You MUST have a passport in order to apply for a visa. Each country sets its own visa requirements for travelers – study abroad or not – so it is crucial that you research destinations you wish to study in and also wish to travel to, as you may need visas for both.

A visa is issued by the foreign country in which you’re studying abroad and grants you permission to enter and stay in that country. Usually, a student whose program lasts 90 days or longer will need a visa, but specific time lengths depend on the country.

Below are some examples of the documents you may be required to submit for your visa (keep in mind the documents required vary greatly between consulates):

  • Official letter of acceptance from your home university 
  • Official letter of acceptance from CEA 
  • Proof of your travel itinerary – may be required to show you have a round-trip flight booked
  • Check or mail order for the visa fee

The earlier you can start applying for a visa the better. Even if your study abroad country’s consulate does not begin accepting applications until a certain date, start gathering your application materials together early. That way, when the study abroad application time frame begins, you can submit your materials right away and in enough time to receive your visa before your program begins.

To obtain a visa, you must apply at your study abroad country’s consulate. Depending on the consulate, this will either need to be done in person or through the mail. For more detailed information, refer to your visa guidelines document in your MyCEA Account, as well as your site specialist and the consulate itself for helpful resources.

If you fail to apply and plan enough time to receive your student visa before your program start date, you face consequences like expulsion from the country of your host city. Under these types of circumstances, you would still be liable for the full cost of your study abroad program.
Avoid these mishaps by making passport attainability one of your top priorities!

Next Steps
So what's your next step after digesting all of this information? Contact your admissions counselor or site specialist to start talking about your destination-specific visa. They can give you all the information you need to know.

Have you applied for a visa before? If so, what tips do you have? Post your answers in the comments section below.

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