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Passports & Visas

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Passports & Visas


U.S. passport processing is experiencing delays due to COVID-19, with regular processing taking up to 18 weeks. If you are thinking about studying abroad in 2022 and need to apply for a new passport, we recommend applying as soon as possible! More information can be found at Passport Operations in Response to COVID-19.

It is important that you know what visa requirements will apply to you so that you can prepare for this well in advance. Many consulates, for instance, now require that students appear in person to apply for their visa. Some students even take these visa requirements into consideration when choosing the country where they want to go when spending a summer, semester, or year abroad.

If you need a student visa, applying for it can be an involved process that requires your careful attention. You should begin to do research about the student visa requirements for the country or countries you will be visiting and living in even before you know you have been accepted to your program. Gathering the required documentation for your student visa can take as much or more time than your education abroad application itself.

Passports Are the First Step in International Travel!

In order to apply for entry into another country, you must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months past your return date (and some countries require up to 18 months validity). If you do not currently have a passport with this validity, you should apply for a new passport immediately. See the State Department's website for more details.

Regular passport processing times are typically 4-6 weeks. Expedited passport services are available for an additional fee. General expedited services take 2-3 weeks door-to-door. However, there are faster expediting services through the Colorado Passport Agency if you are traveling within 14 days or need a passport to secure your visa within four weeks. 

Most students need to have their passports 3-6 months prior to departure in order to apply for student visas.

Applying for an Entry Visa Is an Independent Process

Education Abroad and the University of Colorado Boulder are not responsible for obtaining student visas nor are they in any way responsible for visa complications, delays, or denials. Unfortunately, the University of Colorado does not have the ability to change visa requirements, nor does it help if we call consulates or embassies on your behalf. Although we're happy to help you in whatever way we can, the decision to issue a visa rests solely with the consulate or embassy.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS CAN CHANGE AT ANY TIME. We advise that you pay close attention to consular updates, as you are responsible for knowing and addressing the requirements for your host country and education abroad program. All students must obtain a visa if required by their host country to participate in their program. Failure to obtain a visa will result in you not attending the program.

Independent Travel Prior to the Start of Education Abroad Programs

Please be aware that the visa application process for some countries may require students to surrender their passport for several weeks or months prior to the start of the education abroad program. This may impact students' independent travel plans (including travel over breaks or departing early in advance of the program). Visa requirements should be researched and considered by all applicants prior to planning independent travel. All students are required to be in possession of the proper visa documentation in order to participate on their program.

Planning Ahead

We recommend becoming familiar with the general visa process well in advance. To familiarize yourself with visa requirements, refer to your host country’s embassy webpage. You can find your host country’s embassy webpage through the U.S. Department of State’s webpage under Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements. Another good resource is the U.S. Department of State's Students Abroad website.

Students studying on an Education Abroad program will receive country-specific visa instructions and resources via the MyCUAbroad checklist after acceptance into their program. If you have questions concerning whether a particular program requires an entry visa for planning purposes (such as for multiple education abroad programs), please contact your Program Manager.

Photo by Amanda Bartel courtesy of Unsplash