Apply early. Without a passport you will not study abroad. Expect to wait approximately 4-6 weeks from the time of application to receive your passport. If you are rushed, you may pay for the expedited service and receive your passport in approximately 2-3 weeks. Remember that your passport is required before you begin the visa process. Visit the U.S. Department of State for more information.
Once you receive your passport, sign it and fill in the emergency information page.
A visa is a document (usually in the form of a stamp or sticker in your passport) that gives you permission to travel into a specific country and stay there for a determined period of time. Visas vary greatly from country to country (and from applicant to applicant), so it is important to communicate with the country’s nearest consulate here in the U.S to verify the specific visa you will need. While U.S. citizens are able to travel freely for up to 90 days in many countries on a tourist visa, you may need a study visa if you plan to study in the same country. Those wishing to do international internships may need a work visa. The most common types of visas are study, work, and tourist.
You must have a passport to apply for a visa. It can take from one day to three months to get a visa depending on the country, the purpose of travel, and your citizenship. If you are studying abroad with an organized provider (AIFS, API, CEA, GlobaLinks, GSE, ISA, Semester at Sea, SIT, etc), the provider will be able to help you with this process.
The Office of Study Abroad does not process or issue visas for students. We are here to advise and assist students with the process, but obtaining a visa is ultimately the responsibility of the student going abroad.
All students should review the embassy or consulate web page of countries they plan to visit for updated visa and travel requirements. Visas may be acquired either directly from the consulate or from a visa service. Pay attention to detail when submitting paperwork to prevent delays.
The U.S. Department of State also has a good resource for Entry/Exit requirements. For information on entry requirements for a specific country, please go to the Entry/Exit Requirements section in the Country Specific Information for the country you are interested in at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html. You may also contact the U.S. embassy or consulate of that country for further information.
Answers at consulates often change from day to day, consulate to consulate, and staff member to staff member. Be patient, friendly, and don’t wait until the last minute. They are only open a few hours a week and close for all their national holidays, as well as for all U.S. holidays. As part of this process, you may be required to visit the nearest consulate in New Orleans or Atlanta, for example.
While Mississippi State University does not endorse any particular company or agency, there are multiple agencies dedicated to helping travelers get visas. For more information, please visit:
For a list of embassies in Washington, D.C., please visit: http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
You may need to locate the consulate that has jurisdiction over the citizens of Mississippi.
Many countries in the European Union, as well as several others around the world, require that international students staying over 90 days get a residence permit upon arrival. This is usually a bureaucratic process that requires a visit to the local police station or city hall in your host country. Be aware that you may need a residence permit. Research your study abroad country's laws and any specific immigration rules that may pertain to you.
International Student Identification Card (ISIC)
Recognized by UNESCO, this card opens doors, gets discounts, and is relatively inexpensive to purchase. It is almost guaranteed that this card will make money for you if you plan on visiting many museums, theaters, concerts, and historic sites while abroad. It can even save you money on airfare and train tickets.
While we highly recommend this student card, students are not required to purchase it.