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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:
Visa Frequently Asked Questions
- 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.
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.