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FAQs about Visas

What is a visa?
A visa is an endorsement/stamp on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period and a specified purpose in another country. Visas are often categorized by purpose (study, tourism, work, etc) and duration (less than 90 days or more than 90 days).

Do you have a valid passport? 
Before you can apply for your visa, you must be in possession of a valid passport. If you do not have a valid passport, or if your current passport will expire sooner than six months after your return from your off-campus study program, you need to first apply for or renew your passport. Use this fun game to determine whether you need to renew your passport!

How do I apply for a passport? (for U.S. citizens)
For most international travel, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the end of your study abroad program. If your passport expires before then, you will need to renew it.

For U.S. Citizens, the passport will be issued by the Department of State. First time applicants will complete form DS-11: Application for U.S. Passport. Applicants must bring their completed application, photos, required documents, and payment to one of many acceptance offices, which can be found on the Department of State’s website. A first-time applicant cannot complete the passport application process by mail and must visit a passport acceptance office.

Students who wish to renew their passport submit form DS-82- Renewal Application and can complete the process by mail. Please note, you are only eligible to renew your passport by mail in the case that your passport was issued to you when you were 16 years or older.

Use the Department of State Passport Wizard to learn how to apply for a new passport or renew your passport. 

Please note that you may need to submit your original birth certificate or other proof of U.S. Citizenship so it is important that you plan ahead and have these documents ready for submission.

Passport processing times vary from several weeks to several months so it is in your best interest to apply for your passport or passport renewal as soon as possible so you have ample time to apply for your visa!

How do I apply for a passport? (for non-U.S. Citizens)

If you are an international student at Denison on an F-1 visa, you should be in possession of a valid passport already. Please check your passport expiration date to ensure that it will be valid for at least 6 months after the end of your study abroad program. If it expires before then, you need to renew your passport. Please check the embassy website for your country of citizenship for instructions on how to renew your passport. Instructions vary by country. You may or may not need to visit the Embassy of your country of citizenship to complete this process. Please make sure that Ohio falls under the jurisdiction of the Consulate where you are planning to renew your passport. You may also choose to renew your passport in your home country if you plan to travel home before your study abroad experience.

If you are a permanent resident (green card holder), asylee or refugee, please follow the instructions provided by the embassy of your country of citizenship in how to obtain a new passport or renew your passport. You may or may not need to visit the Embassy of your country of citizenship to complete this process. Please make sure that Ohio falls under the jurisdiction of the Embassy where you are planning to renew your passport. You may also choose to renew your passport in your home country if you plan to travel home before your study abroad experience.

Do I need a visa? What kind of visa do I need?
Your best source of information about whether you need a visa and what type of visa you need is your program provider. Providers also communicate very detailed information about how to apply for your visa, so please watch for these materials and carefully read them. Students planning to study abroad will need to apply for a student “long-term” or “national visa” which permits you to stay in the country for an extended period, typically over 90 days. In some instances, based on your nationality, you may need to apply for a visa even if your intended stay is less than 90 days. To be able to apply for a visa, a student must first hold a valid passport issued by the country of their citizenship. In some countries, you may also be obligated to apply for a residence permit upon arrival.

When do I start the visa process?
As soon as possible.  It is recommended that you apply to your program as soon as the application window opens and, once your provider has sent you visa application information, that you immediately start this process. Please note that most consulates will not allow submission of applications more than 90 days before your study abroad program begins.

What do I need to apply for a visa? 
The materials you are required to submit for your visa application will vary. Some examples of things you might be asked for include: bank statements, photos, fees, proof of enrollment, proof of housing in the host country, biometrics such as fingerprints, and a criminal/FBI background check.

Proof of Enrollment/Proof of Financial Aid 
You may be asked to provide a proof of enrollment letter or proof of financial aid from your home institution. If you need the former, you should contact the Denison Registrar's Office ( to request a letter; if you need the latter, you should reach out to the Denison Financial Aid Office ( In either case, please request your letter(s) well ahead of your deadline. If you wait until the last minute, you risk running up against weekends, holidays, or staff vacations. Remember, most offices on campus operate between 9:00 - 4:30 Monday - Friday. 
Be sure to check whether you need a hard copy of a letter or whether a digital version is acceptable. Typically these letters must be written on official Denison letterhead, so be sure to specify that in your request. If you have questions about what your letter needs to include or which office or entity (e.g., Denison or your provider) should compose the letter, it is your responsibility to reach out to your provider to ask questions well ahead of the deadline. 

Biometrics are a way to measure a person's physical characteristics to verify their identity. Biometrics are part of the current visa process for study in the United Kingdom and may be required as part of the visa process for other countries. The most common biometric measurements are fingerprints and retinal scans. 

What is a background check?
A background check typically consists of cross referencing a student’s name in any police, federal or state databases, over a certain period of time to ensure that there are no criminal offenses on their record. An FBI background check is most commonly requested when a criminal background check is required.

How do I obtain a criminal background check?
If you are asked to provide a criminal background check, the Granville Police Department can issue these letters to verify that you do not have a record within their jurisdiction. To obtain the letter, go to the Clerk of Courts (in the building next to the bookstore in the Village) and bring an ID (Driver's License or Passport). It is helpful to also bring the information from your provider to know exactly what to ask for. 

How long does visa processing take?
Visa processing times widely vary, from weeks to months depending on the country. Spain, France, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic have particularly lengthy processes. It is your responsibility to know this in advance by conferring with your program provider about what the visa process for your country entails, including the approximate timeline for completing the process.

Who can help me with the visa process?
Your program provider should be your first resource. Your program provider will have country-specific instructions for your visa and may in some cases offer “group visa appointments” or “batch processing” which would eliminate the need for you to travel to an embassy or consulate. It is IN YOUR BEST INTEREST TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS SERVICE if available because it will save you time and money.

If you have additional questions after reviewing the instructions from your program provider, you may reach out to the Center for Global Programs office. We can often answer broad questions about the process, but WE CANNOT MANAGE THE PROCESS FOR YOU, NOR CAN WE EXPEDITE THE PROCESS. Obtaining your visa is your responsibility. 

What is a batch process? 
In lieu of individual students submitting their visa application directly to the consulate (in person or by mail), a single institution submits a “batch” of completed visa applications on behalf of its students. Not all consulates allow batch processing, nor do they all allow it for universities and providers (some only offer this service to universities). 

What if I am not a U.S. citizen?
If you hold a foreign passport and a visa or residence permit/green card to reside in the US, the process for going abroad may be different for you. Most program providers offer instructions or addendums to their instructions for non-US citizens. If you are unsure or if the instructions you received are not clear and seem to be addressing US citizens only, please reach out to the Center for Global Programs for guidance. It is important to consider your travel plans (e.g., when you will be home vs. in the U.S.) and how those might be impacted by where and when you need to apply for your visa. 

Do I have to appear at the Consulate in person to submit my visa application?
For some countries, there is a requirement to appear at the Consulate in person to submit your visa application. For other countries the process can be completed entirely by mail. If you need to appear at the Consulate in person, please keep in mind that you will be surrendering your passport and your passport will be mailed back to you from a few weeks to a few months later so it is important to have another form of ID on you for your return flight. It is also worth noting that traveling internationally while you wait for visa processing -regardless of whether you applied in person or via mail-  is not going to be possible.

If I have to surrender my passport at the Consulate and fly back home/to Denison, what can I use for an official ID?
If you have a U.S. Driver's License you can use that to board a domestic U.S. flight. If you do not have a Driver's License, you can apply for an Ohio ID card. Be sure to verify with your airline whether the ID you plan to use will be sufficient. You can also visit U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website to see a list of acceptable IDs

Where do I get my passport photos or visa photos taken?
If you are on campus, you can get FREE passport photos taken in our office. Please email to make an appointment. Off campus, the closest place to get your photos taken is the CVS in Granville. Please note that US Passport photos are a different size than visa photos, so you will need to be specific with what size you need. This visa photo size information is available on the Consular website of the country you plan to visit.

What is a Consulate General? How is it related to an Embassy?
An Embassy is the headquarters for a foreign country's representatives, in the US they are typically based in Washington, DC.The Consular Section of a country’s Embassy works specifically with issues related to travel into and out of that country. Most Embassies have a “Consular Services” office in Washington DC, along with several Consulate General or Vice Honorary Consulate offices around the U.S. covering different regions. Some visa applications may require an in-person visit to the regional office that has jurisdiction over your school or home address.

What is a jurisdiction?
Area identified for a Consulate – typically several states – to which their duties and services apply. A student’s jurisdiction may be the state where their home university is or the state in which their permanent is (or both depending on how flexible the Consulate is).

What is VFS Global Center?
Some governments have outsourced much of their visa processing operations to a third-party agency named VFS Global. To apply for your visa these countries require that you submit a visa application online and attend an in-person appointment/interview at a VFS Center close to your home.

What is a notary?
A notary is a publicly commissioned official who serves as an impartial witness to the signing of a legal document. A notarization must be done in-person before the licensed notary public. Denison University has notaries on campus that are available during business hours (but please note that appointments are typically required, so plan ahead!). Please inquire with the Center for Global Programs for more information. If a notary public is not available on campus, you may also be able to locate a notary in business settings like a bank or UPS store. 

What is an Apostille?
An Apostille is the highest level of certification the Federal Department of State or a State Department of State grants for a document. Your document must be apostilled by the state that it was issued in or by the Federal Government if it was federally issued (i.e. a FBI Background Check). Your document needs to be first notarized before it is apostilled. Please visit The Ohio Secretary of State or US Department of State for more information. If you need to get documents apostilled, consider obtaining multiple copies just in case you need to provide more than one throughout your application process; it is easier to obtain multiple copies at once rather than having to repeat the process multiple times. 

What is a money order?
A money order is a paper document, similar to a check, used as payment. You can obtain a money order at your bank, post office, or at the CVS in Granville. Be aware that you may not be able to use credit card to obtain a money order, so you should inquire ahead of time and be sure that you have the proper means of payment on hand. 

What is a self-addressed stamped envelope?
A self-addressed stamped envelope (sometimes abbreviated as SASE) is an envelope with the sender's name and address on it, plus affixed paid postage, that is sent along with other materials to an organization to facilitate the return of materials or a requested document. Please be sure to attach the correct postage or your materials may not make it back to you promptly. 

Are my passport and/or visa fees covered by Denison?
The Center for Global Programs does have funding for eligible students to help cover passport and visa costs (including visa-related travel) up to $250. If you would like to request assistance, please complete this form and our office will follow up with you. Please note that you must be approved by Denison for off-campus study prior to completing this form

What if I want to stay after my program ends to travel/intern?
This depends on a number of factors, including when your visa expires, whether work is allowed on your visa, or if you are traveling to a country that requires a visa for entry. You should check with your program provider as soon as possible to see if your visa can be extended or allows work.   

Should I travel with any documents when I go abroad?
Yes, you should bring your passport and COVID-19 vaccination card with you. We recommend you bring all of the documents (or copies) you used to apply for your visa just in case you are asked to show these when entering the host country.

We recommend you bring paper copies of your passport (ID and visa pages), birth certificate, COVID-19 vaccination card, and credit card, and keep them throughout your semester in a safe place separate from the originals.

Can I work while abroad?
We discourage students from pursuing employment while abroad. First, countries usually require a special visa to legally work abroad, which is a complicated and potentially costly process. In addition, visa requirements are typically different for studying vs. working abroad and trying to do both could render either or both invalid. Second, paying taxes abroad as well as in your home country for work performed abroad is also very complicated and can be costly. Finally, we expect students to participate fully in their OCS programs and working while studying away can jeopardize your ability to do so. 
Some programs that contain internships will require you to apply for a specific visa to allow you to work abroad, so if this is the case with your program please work with your provider and follow their visa application instructions closely to ensure you apply for and obtain the correct visa. 

What are some general tips to help me throughout this process? 
  • Check Email Regularly and Read Emails Carefully - Throughout this process you will receive important information from our office, from your program provider, and potentially from government entities (e.g., a visa processing agency). Check your email every day (including your Spam folder) and when you receive correspondence read the emails carefully. Emails will often convey information that is time sensitive and not reading your emails might cause you to miss critical deadlines. 
  • Ask Questions - Once you start working with your provider to start the visa application process, you should not hesitate to reach out when questions arise. Their staff is trained to assist students with visa matters. 
  • Attention to Detail - Little things like entering an incorrect email address or realizing that your passport has an incorrect birth date can put your plans to study away in jeopardy. When you are applying for a passport or visa, read through your instructions carefully and take time filling out your paperwork. Review your application before submitting it to check that all of your information is complete and accurate. When you receive your passport or visa, please check it thoroughly to ensure that all of the information is correct. 
  • Familiarizing Yourself with Processing Times/Reaching out When in Doubt - Know what to expect when it comes to processing times for your passport or visa application. If you have not yet received your documents within the stated time frame, be proactive and reach out to your provider or to your consulate. If you do not hear back or still do not receive your documents, please contact our office.