Obtaining A Passport & Visa


PassportIf you don't already have a valid passport, apply for one immediately.

  • passport is your official identification as a citizen of the United States.
  • Passport applications can take four to eight weeks to process. Check current processing times.
  • A passport is valid for 10 years for citizens who were 16 or older when the passport was issued and for five years for those younger than 16.
  • Your passport must be valid at least six months beyond the end date of your program.
  • Provide your Social Security number on the application. If you don't, the International Revenue Service may impose a $500 penalty.
  • Apply in person at a U.S. Post Office if this is your first passport or if your most recent passport was issued when you were younger than 16.
  • Apply by mail to renew a passport.

When you receive your passport:

  • Sign it in ink, and fill in the address and notification data in pencil.
  • Guard it as you would any other valuable.
  • Make several copies of the official page for ease of replacement if it’s lost or stolen.
  • Give one copy to the Office of International Affairs to put in your file.
  • Keep one copy with you in a safe place separate from your passport.
  • Leave one copy with a friend or family member.
  • Scan a copy and keep it in your e-mail account.

Lost your passport?

If your passport is lost or stolen, report it immediately to the nearest passport agency or by calling the State Department at 1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793).

If the loss occurs while you are abroad, notify the nearest U.S. consulate. Theft of a passport should also be reported to the local police.

Student visa (if required)

A visa is official permission to enter a specific country and is granted by that country’s government. Americans who plans to go abroad should check the visa requirements for the countries they plan to visit by contacting the nearest consulate for that country. Some visas are free and some are not. The application process may take several weeks for each visa, so start early.