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Know What You Need and Allow Ample Time  

Updated: January 31, 2024

Taking care of details and documents may not be the most thrilling part of studying abroad. But it can prevent headaches and give you the peace of mind to focus on the excitement ahead. For starters, know that many countries require visiting students to secure a visa for entry. Some countries have straightforward rules. For others, it’s more complicated.

While students are responsible for securing visas, we’re here to help you throughout the process.

  • Visa guides. After you confirm participation in your IFSA program, we’ll send you a student visa guide, specific to your destination.
  • Info at your fingertips. Below, you’ll see detailed information about visa requirements for different countries. Keep in mind that visa fees fluctuate. Please select “Dates and Fees” on your program page for the most current information.
  • IFSA Enrollment Counselors. Our Counselors have the latest details and are happy to help. Send an email to admissions@ifsa-butler.org and a member of our team will get back to you. You can also visit the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Check—and check again

As you review the information below, remember visa requirements are prone to change. It’s important to check entry requirements for your destination country before you apply, after you’ve been accepted, and again as your departure date nears.


Who needs a visa?

U.S. passport holders who are enrolling in semester or full-year programs need a student visa, which allows you to stay in-country for less than 365 days. Citizens from some countries, including China, may need to meet additional requirements. You don’t need a visa for summer programs in Argentina if you have a passport from the U.S., Canada, or Australia.

How do I get a visa?

After you’ve confirmed that you’re participating, we’ll send you paperwork and instructions for meeting the requirements of your nearest consulate (expect your packet in mid-December for Spring programs, and in late May for Fall programs). Some consulates require on-site interviews. Some offer a completely virtual process. If you are required to visit an embassy or consulate in person, find out how and when to book an appointment.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport, passport-style photos 
  • Fees: Approximately $160 USD. Remember to account for travel expenses to and from the consulate/embassy, too.  
  • Processing time: Varies by consulate. Ask your Enrollment Counselor for current information.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Your visa includes specific dates that you can be in-country. If you want to arrive earlier than your program start date, it’s important to work with your IFSA Enrollment Counselor and consulate so your visa shows the correct date. Keep in mind, there’s no guarantee the consulate will accept this request.

Good to know

  • Argentina visa processes change often and can vary depending on which consulate you apply to.
  • Don’t plan international travel during the time you’re applying for your visa—the consulate might ask you to hand in your passport for processing.

Who needs a visa?

Every Australia-bound IFSA student needs a visa to enter the country.  

How do I get a visa?

After processing your acceptance and “offer reply” IFSA will receive and send to you your Confirmation of Enrollment (COE) produced by your host university in Australia. This document will be needed when you apply online for your visa to the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. Create an ImmiAccount, upload your documents, and pay a fee (see below).  

The application also requires you to complete a 300-word statement to meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant Requirement. When you write this statement, be clear about your intentions. For example, state that you plan to stay in Australia for one semester and then return to the U.S. for your undergraduate degree.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport, birth certificate, or license, and university confirmation of enrollment 
  • Fees: Approximately $464 USD.  
  • Processing time: Typically two weeks but varies. Check with your Enrollment Counselor for the latest information.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

If you plan to be in Australia before your program begins, be aware that you can enter the country only after your visa is granted. In addition, your Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) must cover the entire period that you’re in Australia. OSHC coverage dates appear on the letter granting your student visa and usually align with the program start date. Be sure to extend them to cover time before the program if it does not already do so. Visas typically end a month after your program concludes. If you’d like to stay longer, after you arrive in Australia, you can request to extend your student or work and holiday visa with a tourist visa.

Good to know

  • Check ImmiAccount regularly for messages and respond promptly.
  • Recent reforms may make it more difficult for non-U.S. citizens to obtain student visas.
  • Students must enroll in at least three classes per semester.
  • Students cannot work more than 48 hours in a two-week period and cannot work on a tourist visa/electronic travel authority.

Who needs a visa?

  • If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you don’t need a visa unless you plan to participate in an internship with the Chilean government. (Interns need a student visa, or residencia temporal.)  
  • If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you may need a visa to enter.  

How do I get a visa?

After you’ve been accepted to your IFSA program, you’ll need to apply for a visa online, using the detailed guide we provide. You do not need to go to a consulate in person.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport. A passport-style photo. We’ll provide a complete list.   
  • Fees: Approximately $160 USD for advanced student visa for U.S. passport holders or approximately $120 USD for tourist extension (granted only after arrival in Chile). 
  • Processing time: Up to 20 business days. Apply 30 to 60 days before your travel date.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen and you plan to stay longer than three months (180 days), after you’ve arrived in Chile, you can apply to stay for up to three additional months with a tourist extension.

Good to know

  • Chilean laws have been in flux. Check entry requirements regularly to make sure you have the latest information.

Who needs a visa?

All students must have an X1 visa.

How do I get a visa?

After you’ve confirmed that you’re participating, we’ll send you a visa guide. The steps you’ll need to take vary depending on individual situations. You might need to visit a consulate, but in many cases, you can complete an online application, send documents by mail, or use a service like Travisa to obtain your visa. After you arrive in China, our onsite staff will help you schedule the required health exam (approximately $50 to $110 USD). Each student must also register for a resident permit within 30 days of arrival (again, our team will help arrange this.) 

  • Documentation: Valid passport. 
  • Fees: Approximately $185 USD for U.S. citizens; varies for others.   
  • Processing time: Typically one week but can vary.  

Good to know

  • Students with X1 visa are generally not allowed to work while in China but can be approved for part-time work and internships.  
  • Students should not plan to arrive more than a few days early to avoid disrupting the 30-day window described above. 
  • China’s rules for entry could change following the pandemic. 

Who needs a visa?

With some exceptions, the local university requires every student to have a student visa. Our team will guide you through this process. If you have a U.S., Canada, or Australia passport, you do not need a visa for our January term program.

How do I get a visa?

Unlike many countries, Costa Rica requires anyone who needs a visa to apply after arrival. Our staff will be ready to help your student group go through this process together. Before arrival, you’ll fill out a migration/entry form, given to you on the plane or at the airport when you land. Upon arrival, you’ll hand in this form, have your fingerprints taken, and pay a processing fee. Then you’ll proceed to the Legal Counsel Office to pay an additional fee.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport, two passport-style photos, fingerprints (taken in country).  
  • Fees: Approximately $110 + $190 USD 
  • Processing time: Typically one week but can vary. 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be ready to show proof of your return flight to immigration upon arrival and keep the 180-day limit in mind.

Good to know

  • You also need to complete a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) form in advance of travel and within 90 days of your flight. The Costa Rican government requires this in case of emergency.

Who needs a visa?

All students must have a student visa to enter Cuba.

How do I get a visa?

IFSA Enrollment Counselors handle most of this process. After you complete a visa application, provided by your Enrollment Counselor, your Counselor will complete the form and mail it to the embassy in Washington, D.C. Approved visas are sent directly to IFSA, then sent on to students by your Enrollment Counselor.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport. If you hold a passport and/or permanent residency card in one or more countries, those are also required.  
  • Fees: Covered by IFSA.   
  • Processing time: Expect your visa about two weeks before the program begins.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Students can only enter and depart from Cuba on the program start and end dates.

Good to know

Do not plan international travel right before your Cuba program. We mail your visa document to your U.S. postal address, and you need to be there to receive it.


How do I get a visa?

After you’ve been accepted to your program, we’ll send you a guide to U.S. consulates to help you identify which one to apply to and what it requires. Some consulates allow you to apply by mail or online; others require you to make an appointment and visit in person. Gather the documents required and apply as directed.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport, two passport style-photos, and more. We’ll send you a complete list.  
  • Fees: Approximately $113 USD. 
  • Processing time: 60 days for a long-term visa for study; 90 days for a long-term visa for “other” purpose 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.  

Good to know

  • If you’re not a citizen of the U.S. or the EU, be aware that you may need an FBI background check that can take up to two months and a background check from your own country (duration varies). This is in addition to the normal two- to three-month processing time that U.S. passport holders experience. To allow for this lengthy process, it’s ideal to confirm enrollment in your Czech Republic program two months before the IFSA application deadline. 
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites. 

Who needs a visa?

Most U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens don’t need to apply for a visa in advance and are granted visitor visas upon arrival. However, you need to apply in advance for a visa if: 

  • You plan to participate in an internship, teaching placement, or work while in the UK (student visa required). 
  • Your program lasts for longer than six months (applies to full academic-year and calendar-year programs; student visa required). 
  • You’re a citizen of a country on the UK’s visa national list (standard visitor visa required).  

We’ll send you a complete guide to UK visa requirements, including how to apply, after you enroll in your IFSA UK program. 

How do I get a visa?

For visas that require you to apply in advance, you can apply online directly to the UK government, but we strongly recommend you work with Travisa, a visa service provider. We’ve negotiated a preferred rate with Travisa for IFSA students. This should be done three to six months before you travel, depending on which visa you need. You’ll also be required to make an in-person appointment in the U.S. for digital photos and fingerprinting (biometrics).  

  • Documentation: Letters from IFSA and/or documents from your UK host university that show you’ve been accepted as a student. Valid passport. 
  • Fees: Approximately $165 USD for a visitor visa in advance; approximately $713 for a full-year student visa. If you use Travisa, expect an additional fee of approximately $170.  
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks. 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. 

If you’re not a U.S. passport holder, be sure to check on entry requirements from your home country before you go abroad. These rules vary broadly based on country of origin. Your local visa service is often a great resource.  

Good to know

  • If you apply in advance for a visa, don’t plan international travel during this period—you’ll be required to submit your passport when you apply.
  • You might need a transit visa for your connecting flight.
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites.

Who needs a visa?

Students who are citizens of the U.S., Canada, or Australia do not need to apply for a visa to enter. Neither do citizens of Ireland or EU countries. If you’re a citizen of another country, you might need to apply for a long-stay D visa (semester/year-long programs) or short-stay C visa (summer programs).

If you’re staying in country for more than 90 days, you’re required to register with the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INMS) and get an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) (approximately $420 USD).  

How do I get a visa?

You can apply for a long-stay D or short-stay C visa online with the Irish Immigration Service. Biometrics (photos and fingerprints) are sometimes required.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

  • Irish Immigration encourages students to have an Irish Resident Permit before traveling outside the country (not required for summer students). If you plan to travel, it’s a good idea to arrange an INMS appointment ahead of time. Finally, know that you must also check and ensure they meet entry requirements for each country you intend to visit.  
  • Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. 

Good to know

  • Students who don’t need a visa to enter and are enrolled in semester or full-year programs need to register with the INMS within 90 days of arrival. 
  • You might need a transit visa for your connecting flight. 
  • Upon arrival: You will need to show your passport, boarding pass, travel itinerary, and documents from IFSA and your host university that show you’ve been accepted as a student.
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites. 

Who needs a visa?

  • Unless you’re an EU citizen, you need a study visa to enter Italy for a semester or full-year program more than 90 days in length. Some of our programs are more than 90 days; some are less than 90 days. (See Details at a Glance on each program page to learn more.)  
  • Citizens of the U.S. or Canada do not need visas for summer or January programs. If you’re a citizen of another country, you may need a visa for these programs.  

How do I get a visa?

After the program application deadline, we’ll send you a visa guide and a guide to U.S. consulates to help you identify which one to apply to and what it requires. Some allow you to apply by mail or online; others require you to make an appointment and visit in person. After you determine the right consulate, gather the documents required and apply as directed.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport. Check consulate website for additional requirements.  
  • Fees: Approximately $53.70 USD (valid through 3/2024, check for updates here).  
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks.

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which state the European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. This is especially important for students who come for short-term programs that don’t require a visa, because you can travel within the region for a maximum of 90 days, including your study abroad program dates. (U.S. passport holders can stay in the European Union for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa.) 

Good to know

  • If you’re not a citizen of the U.S., be aware that you may need an FBI background check that can take up to two months, and a background check from your own country (duration varies). (EU citizens do not need a visa to study in Italy.) 

Who needs a visa?

Provided you fly into Merida, you will not need a visa to enter Mexico. After you arrive, immigration officers will provide you with a 180-day tourist visa. If you fly into any city other than Merida, you will be given a shorter tourist visa and you’ll need to ask for an extension when you reach Merida. Our staff in Merida will be ready to help.

The exception: January programs. If you have a passport from the U.S., Canada, or Australia, you do not need a visa for this program.

Good to know

When you arrive, be ready to show proof of your return flight.


Who needs a visa?

All students enrolling in a semester or year-long program need a student visa.

How do I get a visa?

After you’ve confirmed that you’re participating, we’ll send you a visa guide with complete instructions on how to apply online. The entire application can be done online—you will not need to go to an embassy or consulate.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport.
  • Fees: Approximately $23 USD for U.S. citizens. Up to approximately $430 NZD for citizens of other countries.   
  • Processing time: Allow eight weeks.  

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Students often arrive early or stay longer to travel. Just keep in mind that you must do so within the dates prescribed on your visa.  

  • Traveling before: When you send your visa application, include a cover letter that outlines your travel plans. This will increase the chances that you’ll get a visa with the start date you’re looking for.  
  • Traveling after: After your academic requirements are complete in New Zealand, you can apply to convert your student visa to a visitor visa with help from our New Zealand staff. 

Good to know

  • While in New Zealand, students cannot work—not even part-time.  
  • Students cannot arrive before or stay beyond the dates on their visa.

Who needs a visa?

Most U.S. and Canadian citizens don’t need to apply for a visa in advance and are granted visitor visas upon arrival. However, you need to apply in advance for a visa if: 

  • You plan to participate in an internship, teaching placement (includes Stranmillis University College Teacher Education program), or work while in the UK (student visa required). 
  • Your program lasts for longer than six months (applies to full academic-year and calendar-year programs; student visa required). 
  • You’re a citizen of a country on the UK’s visa national list (standard visitor visa required).  

We’ll send you a complete guide to UK visa requirements, including how to apply, after you enroll in your IFSA UK program. 

How do I get a visa?

For visas that require you to apply in advance, you can apply online directly to the UK government, but we strongly recommend you work with Travisa, a visa service provider. We’ve negotiated a preferred rate with Travisa for IFSA students. This should be done three to six months before you travel, depending on which visa you need. You’ll also be required to make an in-person appointment in the U.S. for digital photos and fingerprinting (biometrics).  

  • Documentation: Letters from IFSA and/or documents from your UK host university that show you’ve been accepted as a student. Valid passport. 
  • Fees: Approximately $165 USD for a visitor visa in advance; approximately $713 for a full-year student visa. If you use Travisa, expect an additional fee of approximately $170.  
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks. 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. 

If you’re not a U.S. passport holder, be sure to check on entry requirements from your home country before you go abroad. These rules vary broadly based on country of origin. Your local visa service is often a great resource.  

Good to know

  • If you apply in advance for a visa, don’t plan international travel during this period—you’ll be required to submit your passport when you apply.
  • You might need a transit visa for your connecting flight.
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites.

Who needs a visa?

Visas are not required to enter the country. Immigration officials will provide you with a 90-day tourist visa when you arrive. Be ready to show proof of your return flight to immigration when you arrive. Our Peru staff are ready to help as needed. 


Who needs a visa?

Most U.S. and Canadian citizens don’t need to apply for a visa in advance and are granted visitor visas upon arrival. However, you need to apply in advance for a visa if: 

  • You plan to participate in an internship, teaching placement, or work while in the UK (student visa required). 
  • Your program lasts for longer than six months (applies to full academic-year and calendar-year programs; student visa required). 
  • You’re a citizen of a country on the UK’s visa national list (standard visitor visa required).  

We’ll send you a complete guide to UK visa requirements, including how to apply, after you enroll in your IFSA UK program. 

How do I get a visa?

For visas that require you to apply in advance, you can apply online directly to the UK government, but we strongly recommend you work with Travisa, a visa service provider. We’ve negotiated a preferred rate with Travisa for IFSA students. This should be done three to six months before you travel, depending on which visa you need. You’ll also be required to make an in-person appointment in the U.S. for digital photos and fingerprinting (biometrics).  

  • Documentation: Letters from IFSA and/or documents from your UK host university that show you’ve been accepted as a student. Valid passport. 
  • Fees: Approximately $165 USD for a visitor visa in advance; approximately $713 for a full-year student visa. If you use Travisa, expect an additional fee of approximately $170.  
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks. 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.

If you’re not a U.S. passport holder, be sure to check on entry requirements from your home country before you go abroad. These rules vary broadly based on country of origin. Your local visa service is often a great resource.

Good to know

  • If you apply in advance for a visa, don’t plan international travel during this period—you’ll be required to submit your passport when you apply.  
  • You might need a transit visa for your connecting flight. 
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites.

Who needs a visa?

  • Unless you’re an EU citizen, you need a study visa to enter Spain for a semester or full-year program more than 90 days in length. Some of our programs are more than 90 days; some are less than 90 days. (See Details at a Glance on each program page to learn more.)  
  • Citizens of the U.S., Canada, and Australia do not need visas for summer or January programs. If you’re a citizen of another country, you may need a visa for these programs.  

How do I get a visa?

After the program application deadline, we’ll send you a visa guide and a guide to U.S. consulates to help you identify which one to apply to and what it requires. Some allow you to apply by mail or online; others require you to make an appointment and visit in person. After you determine the right consulate, gather the documents required and apply as directed.  

  • Documentation: Valid passport, passport style-photos, and a student identification card 
  • Fees: Approximately $160 USD 
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks 

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which state the European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. This is especially important for students who come for short-term programs that don’t require a visa, because you can travel within the region for a maximum of 90 days, including your study abroad program dates. (U.S. passport holders can stay in the European Union for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa.) 

Good to know

  • If you’re not a citizen of the U.S., be aware that you may need an FBI background check that can take up to two months, and a background check from your own country (duration varies). (EU citizens do not need a visa to study in Spain.) 
  • Spanish visa laws regarding internships are in flux and may change.  
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites.

Who needs a visa?

Every student needs a visa to enter Sri Lanka.

How do I get a visa?

Your Enrollment Counselor typically handles much of this process. No less than five weeks before your arrival date, you’ll need to complete and submit a visa application to your Enrollment Counselor. Your Counselor will submit it to the Sri Lankan government and let you know when your visa is approved. Then you’ll need to send your passport, cover letter, and a copy of your visa approval to the embassy. Your visa (and passport) will be sent directly to you, about three weeks before you depart.    

  • Documentation: Valid passport  
  • Fees: Approximately $130 to $266 USD. 
  • Processing time: Three to six days. 

Good to know

  • This process is likely to change.  
  • Don’t plan international travel during the time you’re applying for your visa—your passport will likely be at the embassy.  

Who needs a visa?

Most U.S. and Canadian citizens don’t need to apply for a visa in advance and are granted visitor visas upon arrival. However, you need to apply in advance for a visa if: 

  • You plan to participate in an internship, teaching placement, or work while in the UK (student visa required). 
  • Your program lasts for longer than six months (applies to full academic-year and calendar-year programs; student visa required). 
  • You’re a citizen of a country on the UK’s visa national list (standard visitor visa required).  

We’ll send you a complete guide to UK visa requirements, including how to apply, after you enroll in your IFSA UK program.

How do I get a visa?

For visas that require you to apply in advance, you can apply online directly to the UK government, but we strongly recommend you work with Travisa, a visa service provider. We’ve negotiated a preferred rate with Travisa for IFSA students. This should be done three to six months before you travel, depending on which visa you need. You’ll also be required to make an in-person appointment in the U.S. for digital photos and fingerprinting (biometrics).  

  • Documentation: Letters from IFSA and/or documents from your UK host university that show you’ve been accepted as a student. Valid passport. 
  • Fees: Approximately $165 USD for a visitor visa in advance; approximately $713 for a full-year student visa. If you use Travisa, expect an additional fee of approximately $170.  
  • Processing time: Four to six weeks.

If you plan to travel before or after your program

Be aware of the Schengen Zone guidelines, which cover which European countries you can enter and how long you can stay. Without a visa, U.S. passport holders can stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. 

If you’re not a U.S. passport holder, be sure to check on entry requirements from your home country before you go abroad. These rules vary broadly based on country of origin. Your local visa service is often a great resource.

Good to know

  • If you apply in advance for a visa, don’t plan international travel during this period—you’ll be required to submit your passport when you apply.  
  • You might need a transit visa for your connecting flight. 
  • In 2025, U.S. passport holders who plan to travel in the EU while abroad will need a travel permit from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS*). We’ll keep students advised on how to proceed as soon as it’s available. Beware of false ETIAS websites.