International Travel

Miyajima's famous Torii gate.jpgIn this section, you will review information on the following topics:

U.S. Passports

A passport is the document that identifies you as a U.S. citizen. You must have a passport to enter a foreign country. 

Important notes on passports:

  • Passport processing time can vary depending on the time of year, but typically take betwen four and six weeks.  It is recommended to apply immediately, though, to ensure that you have adequate time.
  • If you already have a passport, check the expiration date. Some countries require that your passport be valid for six months beyond the end date of your stay in that country.
  • It is best to apply for a passport at the same time you submit your study abroad application, if you do not already have one.
  • Once you receive your passport, be sure to sign it immediately. It is not valid without a signature.
  • Before leaving the U.S., make at least two copies of your passport and leave one copy at home and take one copy and the original with you. Should your passport be lost or stolen, present a copy of the passport to the U.S. Embassy when requesting that it be reissued (this will help speed up the re-issuing process).

You may download an application and read the requirements on the U.S. State Department's passport website.  Passport applications may be submitted at the Isabella County Building (located at 200 N. Main Street in Mount Pleasant), the Mount Pleasant Post Office (located at 813 North Main Street, by appointment), CMU Passport Fair (every Spring and Fall Semester) or the passport office in your home town.  

View the video below for additional passport information:

Passport Video.jpg

A visa is the written authorization from the foreign government allowing you to enter the country. When a visa is required, an application must be submitted in advance and, once granted, it is typically stamped in your passport.
  • There are different types of visas and students usually apply for a study visa.  Information about entry requirements for your host country can be found on the web by searching for the country’s Embassy or Consulate in the United States. 
  • The U.S. State Department's Country Specific Information Sheets provide contact information for the country's Embassy or Consulate in the U.S.
  • Please be aware that it is your responsibility to apply for a visa, when required. 
  • Obtaining a visa often involves sending your passport and other documents to the nearest Consulate of the country you are visiting. 
  • When applications are accepted by mail, be sure to send your application and passport by traceable mail using the service accepted by the Consulate (when limited, the Consulates will specify the accepted mail services on their website).  Also, remember to include a pre-paid return envelope through the same mail service.  
  • Please be aware that some Consulates may require you to appear in person to apply for a visa. This will mean traveling to the nearest consulate, typically in Chicago or Detroit.
  • Faculty-led program participants will be given visa instructions by the OSA and/or your faculty leader, if a visa is required.

Some countries require that visa applications be submitted at least three months prior to departure. Check the requirements early!

Note to students who are not U.S. Citizens: Visa procedures may be different for citizens of other countries. You must contact the nearest Consulate for the country you wish to enter to inquire about applying for a visa.  Be sure to ask if there are any special procedures you must follow to apply for a visa while in the U.S.  In addition, make an appointment with your International Student Advisor to discuss your immigration status while studying abroad and necessary paperwork to re-enter the U.S. 

FBI Background Check

Certain countries require an FBI Background Check when applying for a visa.  This process may take up to eight weeks, so it is important to begin early.  Please visit the FBI Background Check website for additional information. 

Most students participating in study abroad programs are required to make their own travel arrangements.  Here are some tips:

  • Wait until you are accepted by CMU and the host institution before purchasing airfare.
  • Acceptance letters typically confirm the date on which you must arrive. 
  • The cheapest option is not always the best option! Whenever possible, choose a direct flight.  Alternatively, choose the itinerary with the smallest number of stops and connecting flights. With flight delays being so common, each additional stop increases the chances of missing your next connection and delaying your arrival by one or more days.
  • Purchase a round-trip ticket. Many countries require proof of a return flight and they may not issue your visa or allow you to enter with a one-way ticket.
  • Review the refund and change of date fees when purchasing your airfare. It is very common for students to change their travel plans and want to see a few more sites before coming home. Purchasing a ticket with a low change-of-date fee will allow you greater flexibility.
  • Shop around! Spend some time checking with different travel agents before settling on a ticket. Like any big purchase, you want to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Some websites to get you started are STA Travel (, and
A Note on Excessive Travel

It is very exciting to be abroad and natural to want to explore new locations and visit different countries. While study abroad is a wonderful opportunity to see new places, it is important to remember that your primary purpose is to attend classes and successfully complete coursework.  Be sure to take your school work into consideration when planning your excursions. Remember, all courses taken abroad are for academic credit and will be counted in your CMU GPA. A great way to incorporate travel into your study abroad experience is to visit local sites during the regular term and travel to distant places during school breaks or after your program has ended. 

Additional International Travel Information

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