A visa is official permission to enter a country and is granted by the government of that country. Visa formats vary considerably, from a simple stamp imprinted on one of the pages in your passport at the time you enter the country to an official document with your photograph attached. For U.S. nationals, some countries (e.g., South Africa, Hungary, and Russia) require advance processing of visas, while other countries (e.g., many in Western Europe) require no advance processing for brief visits, usually up to three months.
You must check the visa requirements for all the countries you plan to visit during your stay abroad. For requirements for a specific country, consult the Entry/Exit Requirements in the Country Specific Information for the country you are interested in on the State Department website. We advise that you also visit the relevant embassy/consulate's website to verify visa procedures.
You may be required to submit your official acceptance letters from your program, host university, or internship site overseas with the visa application. Keep your acceptance letters (and copies) in a safe place until needed.
Note to holders of F1 visas: If you are on an F-1 visa in the U.S., be sure that your I-20 is signed before departing the U.S. so that you may re-enter more easily. Your I-20 must be signed and validated once per year. If you are on campus, you should make arrangements for Jacqueline Leighton, Director of the Davis International Center, to sign and return your I-20. You can schedule an appointment with Ms. Leighton through WASS online or call 609-258-5006. If you are abroad, you should mail the form to her at the Davis International Center, 120 Alexander Street, 1st floor, Princeton, NJ 08544.
Be advised! Holders of F1 visas who require a visa to travel (for study, internship, research, etc.) during the summer should be aware that certain countries require that a student's F1 visa be valid during their entire stay in that country, even if the student intends to renew the F1 visa before returning to the U.S. Students who need to request an extension of the F1 visa must do so at a U.S. consulate abroad since they cannot apply for an extension while in the U.S.
U.S. permanent residents must check with the U.S. Immigration Service concerning regulations for travel and re-entry into the U.S. It is particularly important to verify procedures for those who contemplate being outside the U.S. for more than six months.
Other Entry Requirements
Check the entry requirements of the country or countries to which you are traveling (information can be found on the country’s embassy website). Be prepared! To enter a country (with or without a visa) and/or to obtain a visa, you may be required to show any of the following:
- Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay, such as a bank statement or a statement from the Financial Aid office
- Letter of acceptance from your overseas program, university, or host organization
- Letter of support from Princeton University
- Proof of medical insurance and required vaccinations
- Letter of good conduct from local police department
- HIV/AIDS test results