A Visa is an official document issued by a foreign country, formally allowing you to visit. Visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
Depending on which country you are planning to visit, you may need a visa in addition to just a passport. Failure to get your visa in time can result in you not being able to study abroad. It is very important to research the country you are going to and if that country will require you to have a visa.
Generally speaking, if you hold a US passport and will be traveling for less than 90 days (a summer program), you will not need a visa, but this is not true for every country, always check to see if the country you are visiting requires you to have a visa.
If you do not hold a US passport (permanent resident/international student), there might be different rules, so always check the rules for the country you are visiting.
Before Getting a Visa
Before you can get a visa you typically need several documents including:
- Acceptance letter from study abroad program or university
- Bank documents or proof of funds
- Health insurance
- Plane ticket
You cannot apply for a student visa before you have a passport or an acceptance letter.
Visa processing times can vary greatly depending on the country; do not delay in applying for the visa. Once you know you are accepted, you should start making a visa checklist.
Lists of Consulates in Los Angeles
This is not a comprehensive list of consulates; a quick google search will tell you where there is a consulate for the country you are going to and how to apply for the visa. The list below shows the more common countries that students study abroad to.