The topic of visas (aka entry clearance) can be very confusing for the first-time traveler. And I’m not talking about credit cards! A ‘visa’ is a stamp or sticker that is placed in your passport by an immigration official of another country. World Endeavors’ participants mainly choose 1 of 3 kinds of visas:
Tourist visas are usually the easiest and cheapest kind of visa to get. Most of the time, you simply arrive in a country (like Costa Rica or Ecuador) and the customs official stamps your passport as you get off the plane. The stamp is good for a certain amount of days – usually 21, 30, or 90 days. Many times the stamp can be renewed if you would like to visit for a longer amount of time. Some countries, like India, Brazil, Ghana, and Tanzania, require that US citizens get a tourist visa in advance. This usually involves filling out an application form, and sending it along with your passport and a fee to a consulate or Embassy. Yes, you do have to send them your passport in the mail! Don’t worry, they’ll send it back to you in a couple of weeks.
Student visas are required for most semester and year-long study abroad programs and some internship programs. Obtaining a student visa requires that you apply well in advance. Some countries, like Italy, Spain and France, require that you go to the consulate in person. Considering that the consulate for your area may not be right in your city, this is something to consider and plan for. Additionally, student visas may take a few weeks to process. You should start the process of obtaining your student visa as far in advance as possible. This might mean that you call the consulate to make an appointment 2 or more months before you plan to start your program. You may also need special paperwork in addition to your application form and passport, such as: original acceptance letters from a foreign university, a letter from your bank indicating sufficient funds, a round-trip flight itinerary, health insurance, and other documents. Please consult with a World Endeavors representative before you start your application for a student visa – we’ll help you get started!
Work visas allow individuals to obtain a job in a country of which they are not a citizen. Most tourist visas and student visas bar you from getting paid employment. Long-term or permanent work visas aren’t easy to get, and for some countries it is nearly impossible. However, some short-term (6 months – 1 year) work visa options are available to students or recent graduates. Check out programs like BUNAC for more information about getting a work visa. Work visas are required for World Endeavors’ Intern in England and Intern in Australia programs.
In short, visas can be complicated business, but all it takes is a little advance planning! For the best results, if you’re not sure what kind of visa you need for your World Endeavors program, just ask one of our friendly Enrollment Advisors (like me). We have lots of experience and we’re always ready to help.