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Study Abroad Study abroad
There are several things you must do prior to departing for your study abroad program. You must obtain all the necessary documents, make all the important financial and academic arrangements, and attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation session.  Information on Pre-departure Orientation, Passports, and Visas are outlined below.  Additional information can be found in the UA Study Abroad Student Handbook.    

Pre-departure Orientation

We want you to be as prepared as possible when you travel out into the world. For that reason, we require that everyone who is studying abroad participate in a mandatory Pre-departure Orientation session prior to going abroad. Many program providers also conduct these sessions at the beginning of their programs after you arrive but we want you to be prepared before you go.  Even if your program provider or host university conducts an orientation, UA requires you to attend an official Capstone International Academic Programs pre-departure session. Travel safety, UA policies and procedures, and advice for cultural adjustment will be covered during this session. We make sure to build in time for you to meet other UA students traveling to the same area of the world.  As we give so much important information at these sessions, including your Current Enrollment Verification Certificate, your attendance is required. Failure to attend this meeting will result in being dropped from your program.

Note: Students participating in faculty-led programs and/or internships may be required to attend multiple pre-departure meetings/orientations.  All scheduled official meetings are mandatory for participation.

Passports and Visas
Passports and visas are two very important types of documents that you will need when you study abroad.

A passport provides official identification while traveling and proof of U.S. citizenship. It will be checked upon leaving and entering almost every country you visit.

You will need a passport to enter a country, AND to return to the United States. Your passport must be current and valid at least six months beyond the time your program ends. To obtain or renew your passport visit the US Department of State website.

Special note: Apply for your passport as soon as you begin thinking about study abroad or international travel as processing time can be lengthy. 

Once you have your passport make copies or scan the page with your picture and passport number on it. Leave one at home with a friend or family member and submit one to the UA online application system.  You should also carry a copy with you when you travel separate from your passport. It is also a good idea to send a scanned copy to yourself by email.  If you lose your passport having a copy will make it easier to get a replacement from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

A visa is official permission to visit a country for a specific purpose and time.  To learn about the requirements for your host country and any countries you might visit while abroad go to the US Department of State website.

Applying for a Visa
The exact process for applying for a visa will vary depending upon the type of visa and the country. In general, to apply for a visa you will send your actual passport (not a copy), student visa application, and any other required documentation via certified mail, UPS, or FedEx (the consulate will usually indicate a preference) along with a return, self-addressed, pre-paid trackable envelope to the consular office of the country you plan to visit. The consulate will stamp your passport with the visa and return it to you. You generally apply to the consulate that serves the state of your permanent residence.  For Alabama, this is usually in Houston or Atlanta.

Processing Time
Obtaining a visa could take up to three months so begin early. You will not be able to apply for the visa until you are fully accepted by your host institution or program, but it is a good idea to begin gathering the needed information for your visa as soon as you apply for your program.  The embassy/consulate website or documentation that accompanies your visa application will usually indicate how long it will take to process the visa.

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