All UNL Education Abroad students are responsible for ensuring that they have the required and necessary travel documents in order and in hand prior to their program. The Education Abroad Office does not provide a service for passports or visas, but can recommend companies that do provide visa services for students who are traveling abroad. It is up to you to find out what you need based on your travel plans and your citizenship, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that you have the required documents before, during, and after your international experience. Not having your travel documents in order can jeopardize your eligibility to travel, and is not sufficient grounds for a refund of any fees paid or owed to UNL or the Education Abroad Office, so please read the following information carefully!
Make Photocopies of Travel Documents!
The UNL Education Abroad Office recommends that you make two copies of your visa, passport, and other important documents. Keep one copy for yourself, and give another copy to a family member or friend in the U.S. It is important to have these on file in case you lose the originals! You might also consider scanning these documents so that you have an electronic copy on file.
Apply for or Renew Your Passport
If you do not have a passport OR do not have a passport valid for at least six months after your return to the U.S., you need to apply for one as soon as possible. The processing time is typically 4-6 weeks. If you are short on time, you may request to have your application be expedited for an extra fee. You can apply for and renew your passport at the N Card Office Passport and Application Center in the City Campus Union.
Obtaining Passport Photos
You can obtain passport photos N Card Office Passport and Application Center for $7.50. You will need passport photos if you are applying for a passport, renewing a passport, or applying for a visa. You may NOT use a photocopy or scan of your current passport picture page as substitution for official passport photos.
Determine the Need for a Visa
If a visa is required before your departure, you will apply through the nearest host country consulate within the U.S. and should refer to the consular office's website for more information on visa fees and processes. A visa is an official document issued by the government of the host country that grants entry for your stay. Visa regulations vary widely from country to country, and may take anywhere from four weeks to two months to issue, depending on the location. In general, study abroad programs lasting less than 90 days require only a valid passport and do not require a separate study visa. However, there are exceptions to this. It is your responsibility to verify the visa requirements of your host country and, if necessary, to obtain your student visa. You should start this process EARLY and may wish to begin by inquiring with your program director or visiting the consulate web site of your host country.
Generally, you must send your passport to the consulate with jurisdiction over your home state in order to obtain your visa, so international travel during the months before your program departure date is not recommended. If you have traveled frequently, please also check to make sure that you have enough blank visa pages left in your passport prior to sending your passport to the consulate.
Step 1: Determine whether or not you need a visa to study abroad. The U.S. Department of State Travel website can help: http://travel.state.gov
Step 2: Research what the visa application requires. Some applications require: bank statements demonstrating sufficient funds to study abroad, a police background check, official acceptance letters from a host institution, and more. Use the consulate webpage for the most up-to-date information.
Step 3: Determine whether or not you will be required to visit the consulate in person, or if you would prefer to have a visa agency do so on your behalf. Suggested agencies are listed below.
Step 4: Make an appointment with an Education Abroad advisor to look over your completed visa application materials. Be sure to bring all required documents with you.
If you are unable to travel to the consulate in order to complete the visa process, there are fee-based services available to take care of the process for you. Some of the companies our office frequently uses are:
Travel Document Systems: http://www.traveldocs.com/
TraVisa (a good option for Spanish visas, located in Chicago): http://www.travisa.com/
Special Note for Non-U.S. Citizens
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are responsible for understanding the rules and regulations involved in leaving the U.S. for a period of time for the purposes of temporarily studying in another country. Please contact the UNL International Student Scholar Office to ensure that you will not jeopardize your current status by participating in a program abroad. You will also need to contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country to obtain the visa requirements as they relate to your country of citizenship; be aware that often these are located in Washington D.C. or Chicago and could require you to appear in person to obtain a visa. For re-entry into the U.S. after your trip, you will need a valid passport, a non-expired visa (stamped inside passport), and form I-20 (if student) or DS-2019 (if an exchange visitor); both must be signed by an International Student & Scholar Advisor.