One of the most vital steps in the study abroad process is making sure you have the ability to gain legal entry to the country you are visiting. If it is short term, a passport may suffice but if you are planning on living there for an extended period of time, a visa will be necessary. Some countries are easier to gain access to than others and some application processes may be more extensive. Regardless, here are some steps to make your visa application process as easy as it can be!
Do: Understand what type of visa you need.
Visa types vary from student to working to everything in between. Knowing what you intend to do in the country (and how long you intend to do it for) are keys to learning what type of visa is going to work for you!
Do: Gather as many identity documents as possible.
Documents like a birth certificate, passport card, proof of address, social security card, and drivers license may all be necessary to prove who you really are! Having them on hand and in the right format (scanned if an online application, copied if a paper application) will prevent delays gathering documents.
Don’t: underestimate the time it will take to do your application.
There are a lot of components to applying for a visa, and sitting down to do it in one shot could take up to hours. Plan accordingly to block out a significant portion of time to answer all the questions thoroughly and in completion and without skipping any steps.
Don’t: Make travel arrangements until visa status has been accepted.
Visa dates limit the time you can be in the country. Typically if you provide your ideal travel dates they will provide buffer days on your visa, but you are still limited to your time in the country by those dates. Be sure you fully understand what days you are limited to in the country before booking flights in order to avoid mistakes and expensive airline change fees.
Do: Continuously keep up with government requirements on travel and entry, even once visa status is granted.
Especially when traveling to a country where government tensions may be high, rules and regulations may change rapidly. Be sure to keep a check on what you legally need to continue entrance into the country.
Once the major step of a visa is taken, you are one step closer to making your travel dreams a reality!