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General Guidelines for Applying for a Student Visa

Unfortunately, unlike a passport, there is no single application for Student Visas as the requirements differ from country to country.  It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad, including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. For information on entry requirements for a specific country, please go to the Entry/Exit Requirements section in the Country Specific Information pages on the U.S. Department of State Website. 

If you have questions, check in with the GO Office or email

Standard Visa Application Materials for U.S. citizens may include but are not limited to:
  • A letter from your home institution on letterhead stating that you are a full-time student commonly known as a Letter of Enrollment. You can obtain a letter of enrollment from the Registrar's Office.
  • Official letter of acceptance from your home university and/or from your program provider or from an institution in the country where you will be studying.
  • Proof of means of financial support (could include proof of financial aid award package, letter from your bank, letter from parents, etc.).
  • Obtain biometrics. Not all VISA applications require this but if it does, this is a fancy word for fingerprints. Once you finish your application online, you will be prompted to sign up for an appointment to get your fingerprints taken.
  • Doctor's letter certifying that you meet certain health requirements.  It's important to plan to have an appointment but note timelines and requirements to ensure your health assessment is not too early.
  • Copy of most recent parental income tax returns.  Some countries require this but not all.  Check with your country consulate for more information.
  • Payment for VISA.  A certified check or mail order check is usually accepted for VISA fees.  VISA fees vary per country.
  • Criminal Background Check, if you need this. This could be in the form of a Police Report or FBI Clearances, among others. Start this process soon! It can take up to 16 weeks to obtain.
  • Proof of required health insurance.  Check with your family or individual insurance for information on whether your plan meets the VISA requirements.  In many cases, your program provider will likely provide insurance to you.  The GO office also provides GEOBlue/HTH Insurance upon request. For more information about this insurance, email Francia Moyer ( 
  • Your passport. At this point, you should already have a passport. You will be required to mail it or provide in person along with the rest of the documents proving that you have the means to live in that specific country for a  semester.
    • If you do not have a passport, when applying for a passport for the first time you have to submit your application in person. Everything you need to know about U.S. passports (how to apply, how to get a rushed passport, how to renew your passport) here.  If your passport was lost or stolen and you are departing imminently or if you need your passport to apply for a visa within two weeks, you may call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778/ 1-888-874-7793 to schedule an appointment to apply in person at a Passport Agency.
  • Passport size photos. You should be able to find every county’s specifications on their respective visa website. The GO office will take FREE VISA and passport photos for you on Wednesday afternoons (1-4:30). If you are not able to come in during designated times, you can obtain passport photos at your local Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, etc.
  • Proof of travel itinerary.  If asked for a round-trip ticket, you will need to purchase one, even though you might not know exactly when you will be returning home. Students usually buy the return ticket, verifying with their travel agent or airline that they can change the return date later. There is usually a penalty fee associated with changing the travel dates (and the penalty could apply to each leg of the flight, including any domestic flights within the U.S.)
  • In-person appearance. Some embassies require you to appear in-person to process your visa. Embassies are based on your home address.

A few more tips: 
  • Schedule a visa appointment as soon as you have received your acceptance letter from the host institution/program, but for a date between 60-90 days prior to departure.
  • Send out your application 60-90 days in advance.
  • The embassy is based on your home address.
  • Make copies of everything! Don’t be surprised if something gets lost in transit.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. The procedures that you will follow may be different from those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.  All international students at Susquehanna University should meet with the international student coordinator in the Global Programs Office so they will know about your plans and so they can properly document your U.S. immigration paperwork.