Passport, Visa, & ISIC Travel Information
Passport, Visa, & ISIC Travel Information
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave most foreign countries. The U.S. State Department is the only authority that can grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
The best advice on when to apply for a U.S. passport is to apply now. Waiting will cost more money and stress.
Changes in passport requirements for travel have significantly increased processing times. Currently, the U.S. State Department estimates that the average time to process an application for a new passport or to renew an existing passport is 4−6 weeks. So, if you apply this weekend, you should receive your passport within two months—but you may also need to apply for a student visa to study abroad as well, which can also take up to 8 weeks, depending on the country. For those who pay an additional fee to expedite their passport application, the estimated processing time is 3 weeks.
Other Passport Questions
How long is my passport valid?
If you were 15 or younger when you received your passport, your passport is valid for 5 years from the date of issue. If you received your passport when you were 16 or older, it will be valid for 10 years.
What is a passport card?
The U.S. passport card does not replace your passport and cannot be used for international travel by air. The card can only be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry.
Do I need to purchase a passport card AND a passport?
No. The U.S. passport card can only be used at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry to the previously mentioned countries. Your U.S. passport book (and visa, if required) will allow international travel by air, sea, and land. Your study abroad program and/or home institution will require that you have a passport that is valid six months after you return to the U.S.
When should I renew my passport?
You should renew your passport approximately 9 months before it expires. Keep in mind that some countries require your passport to still be valid for no less than six months after your scheduled return from your education abroad program. If you’ve reached the point where your passport has only 2-4 blank visa/stamp pages, then it is time to renew or have pages added. There have been cases where airlines did not allow passengers to board if these requirements were not met.
If I don’t need the Passport Card to study abroad, what can I use it for?
Some people use the passport card as a second form of identification. If your passport is stolen, you will have another form of identification. Also, instead of carrying around your passport while you travel within a city, you can use your U.S. passport card as a form of ID.
How To Apply For or Renew a Passport:
You may apply for a passport in person at an approved passport facility. In Seguin, you can apply in person at The Guadalupe County Clerk’s Office. They will take your photo and you submit your application to them. Please note that if you are under 18, parental consent may be requested and a parent may need to accompany you when you apply.
To apply for a passport, you will need to do the following:
1. Go online and complete the online application (Form DS-11).
2. Print off the completed application, but do not sign the application. When you take your application and all supporting materials to the passport acceptance facility, you will then be directed to sign the form in the presence of a witness.
3. Provide proof of US citizenship. Note that all documentation submitted as evidence of citizenship will be returned with the issued passport. Citizenship can be proved with one of the following documents:
- A certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state. A certified birth certificate has a registrar’s raised, embossed, impressed, or multicolored seal, registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office
- A previously issued U.S. passport (mutilated, altered, or damaged passports are not acceptable as evidence of US citizenship)
- A Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
- A Naturalization Certificate
- A Certificate of Citizenship
If you do not have any of these, please refer to the travel.state.gov site for alternative documentation.
4. Present proof of your identity. The following documents are acceptable forms of proof:
- Previous U.S. passport (mutilated, altered, or damaged passports are not acceptable as evidence of identity)
- Naturalization Certificate
- Current, valid driver’s license, government ID, or military ID
5. Provide TWO passport size photos (2 X 2 inches), taken within the past six months. (NOTE: You will likely need to submit additional photos with your study abroad application and for a visa application if an entry visa is required for study abroad in your host country, so you may want to have additional photos taken at the same time.)
6. Provide a Social Security Number.
7. Pay the $140 fee ($110, if you are renewing) and $25 execution fee. We recommend that you also pay the $60 fee to expedite your application if you plan to travel soon or if you need to apply for a student visa. You should also consider paying for overnight delivery service both to submit your application and to secure its speedy delivery once it has been issued.
Once you have submitted your application, you can check the status of your application online.
Some countries require that U.S. citizens apply for and receive an entrance visa, depending on the length and purpose of their stay. A visa is an official document giving permission to enter a country and is granted by the government of the country you wish to enter.
- Some countries require that U.S. citizens apply for and receive an entrance visa, depending on the length and purpose of their stay. A visa is an official document giving permission to enter a country and is granted by the government of the country you wish to enter. The visa may be in the form of a stamp imprinted on a page in your passport or it may be an official document that includes a photograph.
- If you are planning to study abroad in a country for an extended period of time, you may need a student visa or residency permit. (Note: Some students participating in programs that travel through a number of countries may need to apply for multiple visas.) In most instances, you will need to receive the visa before you depart.
- Note: If your host country requires that you obtain a visa in order to study abroad there, you must do so -- this is non-negotiable.
- Visa requirements vary from country to country. Information relating to all visas may be obtained from the nearest embassy or consulate of the country or countries in which you will study and/or travel. You can learn about visa requirements for your destination(s) by visiting the U.S. State Department website.
- When you receive notification of acceptance to your study abroad program, the program provider should inform you of visa requirements and the application process. In addition, your program may need to provide you with certain documents that you are required to submit with the visa application.
- Some countries require that you submit your visa application in person at the appropriate consulate, and that you make an appointment to do so. If this is the case for the country in which you plan to study, you should contact the consulate sooner rather than later (remember that every student who wishes to study abroad in that country will also be seeking an appointment and that the consulate will be flooded with requests).
Student Visa Do's and Don'ts
Top Ten Do's
1. Do apply for your passport (if you don’t already have a current one) several months before submitting your application for a visa.
2. Do find out the earliest and the latest dates you can submit your application for your visa. Ideally, apply as close to the opening date as possible but definitely within the required time frame. If the consulate says you must apply at least 60 days before your departure, this means no less than 60 days, and for some this can be no less than 120 days before departure. Some visa offices become overwhelmed the month before most education abroad programs begin and those offices can announce cutbacks or even a halt in visa processing.
3. Do follow all the visa requirements given by the consulate that has jurisdiction over your home or, if allowed, your student address. Follow the instructions very carefully and be sure to submit all of the required documents.
4. Do arrange/stack your application and accompanying paperwork in the exact order given on the instructions from the consulate. Then use a binder clip and place in a large envelope so they stay in order.
5. Do make copies for yourself of all documents being submitted to the consulate. Be sure to also provide any extra copies if the consulate requires them. Students have been turned away because they didn’t provide both the original documents and the required number of copies.
6. Do make an appointment with the consulate (if one is required) as early as permitted. Make sure you have all the documents you need before your appointment (i.e. copies of your acceptance letters, bank statements, notarized letters of support, doctors letters, your passport, etc.).
7. Do communicate in a cordial and respectful tone when speaking with consular officers. Be patient and understanding. Sometimes there is only one person in the visa office handling hundreds or even thousands of visa applications.
8. Do contact the TLU International Education office or program provider if you are having a hard time getting an appointment with a consulate.
9. Do check the holiday schedule of the consulate for any closures when planning to go there. Keep in mind that the consulate will probably be closed for holidays occurring in the host country.
10. Do ask for the name of any person you speak with at the consulate and keep a record of it.
Top Ten Don'ts
1. Don’t forget to check and double-check your visa application and all required documentation before your visit to the consulate. Don’t overlook or rush through anything. Put all documents in the order listed in the instructions. You could be turned away if your documents are not in perfect order according to their requirements.
2. Don’t make travel plans that could conflict with the visa process timeline. Remember that you have to submit your passport with your visa application, so you won’t have your passport for travel until the consulate returns it to you.
3. Don’t expect to receive your passport and visa prior to your departure date if your documents were submitted late, or during the “high volume” period for the consulate (usually 4-6 week before most education abroad programs begin).
4. Don’t mask out account numbers on bank documents unless the consulate has given permission or instructions to do so.
5. Don’t submit scanned copies of personal photos as a substitute for passport-size photos, which are required for submission with your passport as well as visa applications. Officially accepted passport photos can be taken at select U.S. Postal Service offices and many chain drug stores (Walgreens and CVS).
6. Don’t staple when you should glue, and don’t glue when you should staple. This is an important distinction.
7. Don’t write a personal check to apply for visa fees; most consulates only accept money orders. Confirm the payment requirements with the consulate before your appointment.
8. Don’t mail your visa application if you are required to submit your documents in person.
9. Don’t expect that you can extend your visa or apply for a visa for another country while you are abroad. For example, if you are studying in Spain in the fall and wanted to extend your stay for the spring semester, you would have to return to the U.S. to apply for another visa.
10. Don’t expect or request exceptions to the rules. They will not be granted.
- Do pack photocopies of your passport, immunizations, and birth certificate when traveling abroad (keep copies separate from real documents).
- Also leave copies at home with your parents or guardians.
- Do request a 48-page passport when you apply for a new passport so you will not have to pay to have pages added at a later date if you need them.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is widely recognized around the world and with it you are eligible for discounts on such things as airfares, insurance coverage, lodging, and admission fees for museums and cultural sites.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) may be, next to your passport and visa, one of the more valuable travel documents you can have. ISIC cards are widely recognized around the world and with it you are eligible for discounts on such things as airfares, insurance coverage, lodging, and admission fees for museums and cultural sites.
In addition, the ISIC provides supplemental health insurance (you should not depend on the ISIC as your sole source of health coverage) and gives you access to a toll-free help line for assistance with medical, legal, or financial emergencies.
Many programs will provide participants with an ISIC. If your program does not, you can purchase one for $25 online from www.isic.org.
Steps to getting an ISIC
What you need
- Your digital photo in .jpg or jpeg format with a white or blue background.
- A scanned copy of your proof of full-time student status clearly showing the date of issue in jpeg, .jpg or pdf format (for example your university card, a letter from your school, official enrollment letter).
- A scanned copy of your proof of identity in .jpg, jpeg or pdf format (for example your passport, national identity card, or driver's license).
- Your method of payment (PayPal, credit card).
When will I get my card?
It usually takes 3-4 weeks to process your application and deliver the card to you.
Want your card now?
Take the required documents to your local ISIC issuing outlet and receive your card on the spot.
As soon as your student status is confirmed with ISIC your ISIC profile is activated. You can get great ISIC benefits online by logging in to your ISIC account.
- About Study Abroad
- Study Abroad Programs
- Preparing for Study Abroad
- Returning from Abroad
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