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Passports and Visas


  • Your passport usually needs to be valid for six months after your return. If you need to renew it, it can take a number of weeks unless you pay for expedited delivery.
  • If your passport gets lost or stolen while you are abroad, you will need to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. U.S. embassies are generally located in capital cities only; travelers in other locations will have to visit the U.S. consulate in the capital city nearest them. For a list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates, go to
  • We recommend that you carry copies of your passport in your checked luggage. Also, leave a copy with your parents/emergency contact as well as the Study Abroad Office as back-up. When replacing a passport, if you offer a copy to the embassy, it tends to speed up the replacement process at the embassy or consulate.


  • A visa is a permission to enter and stay in a foreign country. The government of the country to which you are going issues visas; foreign visas are not issued by the U.S. government. Visas are usually stamped into your passport, so you’ll normally need your passport to obtain a visa.
  • As soon as you receive your acceptance packet from your host university, make sure to check with the foreign consulate of your destination country about their visa requirements for students. You can also do so by using the following link:
  • Each country has different rules and charges for visa applications. Some countries may require a medical examination. Fees will vary by country. Please call the nearest consulate in Chicago for specific application and procedures.
  • The International Center provides assistance to students applying for student visas by issuing a visa letter and aiding in the preparation for the visa appointment.

The Study Abroad Office recommends that you do not book your flight until you have secured your visa (if required). However, if you do decide to take the risk (e.g. to secure a low-fare ticket), you are advised to find out how much your airline will charge you for a cancellation; if they’ll let you change departure dates; and how much a change will cost. It is also possible for you not make your original flight due to delays with visa applications.