Global Program Support Services (GPS) is available to assist Georgetown students, faculty, and staff with visa questions for graduate programs or independent travel abroad. GPS cannot issue visas. Georgetown is not able to sponsor local students, faculty, or staff for international visas. Examples of typical cases GPS assists include:
- Boren or other fellowship recipients
- Students doing independent research or internships abroad
- Faculty conducting independent research abroad
- Staff attending a conference or conducting a business visit abroad
International students and scholars should also work with International Student & Scholar Services to prepare the appropriate documents for departure and reentry to the United States.
In many countries visas are required in order to stay for a summer, semester, or year. Most countries in the visa waiver program require a visa for stays longer than 90 days, and other countries may require a visa for any length of stay. The best resource is to consult either the embassy or consulate website to find out their requirements. If an applicant is traveling with a program that has issued visas in the past, the program may be able to provide guidance and advice on whether or not the applicant will need a visa.
There is no single answer about process and it may vary from embassy to embassy, so it is best to contact each directly. Some things to keep in mind would be finding out the average time it takes to process a visa, and whether the applicant should apply in the D.C. jurisdiction or through their permanent residence.
Each country will have different requirements; however, the items that are most typically required are things such as photos, a fee, proof of funds to support yourself while abroad, proof of enrollment or engagement abroad, proof of housing in country, fingerprints, or other biometrics, etc.
In some cases, applicants will need to show that they do not have a criminal background. Depending on the country this may be done through their local police station; some countries specifically require an FBI background check. In these instances it is wise to allow extra time for processing.
Some countries require applicants to submit HIV testing results with a visa application. The website hivtravel.org provides country-by-country information on which countries have imposed travel restrictions of varying degrees on travelers who test HIV positive.
For some countries an applicant does need to appear in person to obtain his or her visa. However, for others he/she may be able to use a visa service.
This will depend on both the country of the applicant and also the country where the applicant wishes to travel. Please refer to the embassy or consulate page of the country of destination.
Visa processing can take as little as a few days for some countries to months. It is important to plan time in for visa processing, particularly for students who are applying to travel in the spring semester when the period of time between finding out they have been accepted to go and leaving is short.
In general, trying to rush an application is not advised but this will vary greatly from country to country. It is best to review the website of the consulate or embassy to see if this is a possibility.
In many cases applicants are able to obtain a tourist visa prior to leaving or upon entry to the country and then change it during the course of their stay. It is important to research this in advance and know the legal ramifications of coming in under the wrong visa status.
In certain countries it is very challenging to extend. In others it is very easy to make the change. Generally speaking this is something the applicant should discuss with his or her host country sponsor (company, organization, or institution) in order to determine if it is feasible.
Each country handles this differently and some countries are very strict about travel after a visa is expired. It is recommended that applicants do extensive research before deciding to travel with an expired visa as fines can be costly and while they may get to one country, they may end up stuck in a situation where they are unable to return home or to their host country.
This information has been adapted for Georgetown from the NAFSA Association of International Educators. More information, including country-specific visa regulations, can be found on their website.
The State Department is also a good resource for country profiles, safety recommendations, and visa advice.
Darius Ngo is available for additional visa questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 687-5867.