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Visa Information

In the context of immigration, a visa is not a credit card. For immigration purposes, a visa is a form of permission that allows you to legally enter a country. It can be in the form of a stamp or sticker in your passport. In addition to your passport, many countries require you to obtain a visa before entering the country.

For some countries, you will need to obtain a visa prior to your departure. For others, you may obtain your visa upon arrival. In yet other cases, you might first enter your host country as a tourist, register for your classes, and then convert your tourist status to that of a student. Each country has its own requirements and application procedures. Given the differences for each country, it is impossible for us to cover the steps and requirements for each and every country, or for each and every possible situation. Therefore, the CIE Study Abroad Office recommends that you work directly with your host country's embassy or consulate, or obtain the services of a visa specialist. You may wish to talk to your study abroad adviser to find out the best route to take.

Below is a list of visa agents and consultants. You should explore the services that each company or consultant provides, ask them questions, and decide if you would like to work with one of them. Of course, you are also at liberty to identify another visa agent to work through.

•    A Briggs,http://www.abriggs.com/
•    China Visa Service Center (for China visas),http://mychinavisa.com/
•    de Prey Consulting (for UK visas),http://www.depreyconsulting.com/
•    Passport Visa Express,http://www.passportvisasexpress.com/
•    Perry International,http://perryvisa.com/
•    Travisa,http://www.travisa.com/
•    TDS,http://www.traveldocs.com/
•    VisaHQ,http://www.visahq.com

Whatever route through which you choose to obtain your visa, please make sure that you start investigating the process early, and that you allow enough time to apply and receive your visa; some visa applications may take two weeks, while others may take up to two months. Adhere to the format specifications for all supporting documents. Do not argue with visa consultants or embassy/consulate visa officers about the requirements. If you are interacting with an embassy/consulate visa officer, please be respectful.

Some programs may organize batch visa processing on your behalf, while other programs may require additional steps/documents prior to you submitting your visa application. Before beginning the visa application process, please check with your study abroad adviser and find out if your program provides batch processing or if there are additional steps/documents you will need.

In addition to the visa requirements for your host country, you should also look into the entry and exit requirements of the other countries that you may visit beyond your host country. For instance, if you are studying abroad in Spain and you decide to travel to Morocco on your own, or if you are studying abroad in Australia and you decide to visit Fiji, you should look up the entry and exit requirements for Morocco or Fiji. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may use the advice provided through the U.S. State Department's Country Specific Information found here.

For more information about entry visas, please visit the U.S. Department of State website for students. For entry into your host country, please make sure that you look at requirements for entry as a student, unless you are permitted to or have been advised to enter as a tourist.

Besides your passport and visa, you may need to provide additional documents for entry into a country. Examples of these additional documents include:

•    Your letter of acceptance from your host university;
•    Proof of departure, usually in the form of a return flight;
•    Proof of sufficient finances; and/or,
•    Proof of insurance.

Again, each country will have its own requirements and a country's border control agency could require more documents than what is mentioned above. Please refer to the acceptance packet from your host university or study abroad program for details. Remember, you should also check with your host country's consulate or embassy to find out the exact documents you will need to produce upon arrival to gain entry into your host country.

If you are not a U.S. citizen and need to return to the U.S. to continue your studies after studying abroad, please make sure that you pack and carry all necessary documents and authorizations to re-enter the U.S. after your program ends. For more information, please contact the International Scholar and Student Services Office, isss@uwm.edu.

What is an Embassy?
Embassies are the headquarters for ambassadors from foreign countries. They are involved in country relations, consular affairs (such as issuing travel and student visas), and all matters related to citizens of their own country residing or traveling in a foreign country. Most embassy web sites have a consular affairs section.

Embassies have different sets of criteria for obtaining a visa. Make sure to follow their instructions very carefully. Please remember that you are asking for permission to stay in their country. Embassies are not required to give you the visa.

What is a Consulate?
Consulates are branch offices of an embassy. One of their purposes is to handle visa matters for a given geographical area. Many but not all countries will have both an embassy and one or more consulates in a foreign country.

Click here for a complete list of foreign embassies in the U.S.