Visas for Study Abroad

What is a visa?

A visa is an entry/residence permit and official permission granted by the authorities of a country via its embassy or consulate in the U.S. It is usually a special stamp printed on a passport page. For most countries, you will need to obtain a student visa for a semester-long study abroad program. Not every country requires a student to obtain a visa. Some summer programs do not require a visa.

Visa regulations change frequently, and it is the student’s responsibility to stay updated on requirements and deadlines.

What is a residence permit?

Some countries require students to obtain a residence permit upon arrival in the country rather than apply for a visa in advance of traveling. Most countries charge a fee for obtaining the residence permit.

Do I need a visa for my study abroad program?

Once you get accepted into your study abroad program, visa information will be provided to you.

When to start the visa process?

The visa is the last step of the study abroad preparation process. However, students must research the process early on to be aware of requirements and deadlines. Delaying the visa application process until close to the start of your program is strongly discouraged.  Most consulates do not allow students to apply any earlier than 90 – 120 days prior to departure. It is strongly recommended to allow 4-6 weeks for visa processing time.

What would I need?

In order to acquire a visa you must have a valid passport and a letter of admission from your study abroad program. Some countries have additional requirements such as a medical exam or certification of finances and/or proof of insurance. For most countries the student must leave the passport at the consulate during the processing time. You may be required to travel to Boston, New York, or to another consulate (if you are an out-of-state student at UMaine) to apply for the visa in person. You may also have to appear in person to pick up your passport after the visa has been issued. Visas can be free or as expensive as $550.

Where can I find accurate information about my student visa?

Information on applying for a visa may be obtained by contacting your host country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S. Check these websites for the phone number of the consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence: or