Visa Information

Many countries require students to apply for a visa prior to travel on a study abroad program. On this page you will find general information about student visas and specific information regarding entry requirements for certain countries:


Students who identify as Transgender or Non-Binary: Here are some resources to learn a little bit more about the country you are traveling to. It is recommended to gain knowledge regarding gender specified documents. 

IGLA World Maps

Freedom House



Visa Frequently Asked Questions

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). 

Depending on the country, you may or may not need a visa to enter your host country. Typically, students participating in study abroad programs lasting longer than 90 days are required to obtain a visa. Some countries require students to obtain visas for any study abroad programs, including programs that are shorter than 90 days. It is your responsibility to determine if the country you will travel to requires you to obtain a visa or complete other requirements prior to entry. The Padnos International Center can assist you in answering general questions related to visa applications but the appropriate consulate for the country you will travel to should be contacted for the most accurate and up to date information.

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, passport-size 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. Gathering the documents required for your visa application can take a considerable amount of time. We recommend that you start looking into the requirements well in advance.

The process for obtaining a visa can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. Start researching this information early so that you are prepared.

For additional information on visa requirements, contact the nearest consulate of the country you plan to visit, or go to and review the travel advisory section for details on entry requirements.

The visa guides on this page will also provide more detailed instructions on visa application procedures for specific countries.

Visa Tips

  • In most cases, visa applications will not be considered more than 90 days prior to entry into the host country
  • It is not uncommon for a student to be required to apply for a visa in person. In some cases, students may also be required to pick-up their passport and visa in person. This may mean that you may have to make two trips to the Consulate which has jurisdiction over your state of residence.
  • In most cases, students MUST apply for their visa in their home country. This means that if you plan to travel or are planning back-to-back study abroad programs AND you will not be in the United States during the 3 months prior to your arrival in your host country, you may run into problems with securing a visa.    
  • Consulates are not always timely and responsive to questions from students regarding visa procedures. Please contact the consulate with plenty of time for your questions to be answered. 
  • While many of these requirements may seem burdensome, they are governmental regulations that must be followed. Due to constant changes in requirements and regulations, the Padnos International Center can offer very limited information regarding the procedures for applying for your visa. Our staff have been instructed to refer you to the appropriate Consulate for questions and advice.

Visa Guides

The visa guides on this page represent countries where GVSU has partner programs. If the country you are visiting is not listed on this page, you can complete an internet search for the consulate of the country you will visit to find visa information. Please contact us if you are having trouble locating visa information.

Padnos International Center cannot assist you with:

  • Applying for your visa on your behalf (unless this is included in the program)
  • Making a visa appointment 
  • Researching requirements and coordinating the application process if you are applying to study in more than one country

Please note: Visa regulations can change frequently and without notice. The best place to find the most up-to-date information regarding visas is the consulate of the country you will visit.


FBI Background Check

Some locations (including Spain and Chile) may require students to have an FBI background check in order to obtain a visa. The FBI background check must be current (issued within 4 months) when you apply for your student visa. The timing of this process will be important to make sure you apply for the FBI background check in plenty of time, but not too early that it will expire before you are ready to apply for your student visa. You must apply for your study visa within 90 days prior to your departure. Students have a few different options to obtain a FBI background check: 

  • Work directly with the FBI to submit online or by mail.
  • Utilize an FBI-approved channeler 
    • Past students have been able to expedite the process of securing the FBI background check by utilizing the Fieldprint Services Team for an extra fee (currently $50). This service can provide a background check within 24 hrs of your appointment

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 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., but they ask that you arrive by 3:30 p.m. 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.



What is an apostille?

  • An apostille is a certificate that authenticates a document so that it can be recognized as an official document outside of the United States.

Do I need an apostille?

  • Some consulates require that certain documents for your student visa have an official apostille from the U.S. Department of State. You will need to check the requirements for your visa documents to see if an apostille is required.

How do I get an apostille?

  • The State Department website provides information on how to obtain an apostille.
  • You will need to mail your documents to the State Department in an envelope with tracking so that you can verify when they arrive. You will also want to purchase a return envelope with tracking.
  • This process can take up to three months. You will need to plan ahead to make sure you will receive everything you need before your visa appointment.

Page last modified June 29, 2024