Passports and Visas

What is a passport, why do I need one, and does it need to be valid?

In order to regulate international travel people must carry identification with them when entering another country. The only form of identification that is recognized throughout the world is a passport (with the exception of certain established relationships, such as the Schengen Agreement). A passport also entitles its bearer to the protection of his or her own country, as well as that of the country visited. If you currently have a passport, check it NOW to make sure it is valid (not expired). An expired passport is NOT acceptable. You are responsible for requesting and purchasing your own passport.

If you do not have a passport (OR your current passport has expired), applications can be obtained and processed at your Town or County Clerk's Office and at some U.S. Post Offices (in Oswego: 391 West 1st Street). Bring with you:


  • Birth certificate (from Bureau of Vital Statistics with embossed seal)
  • Drivers license (or other valid photo id)
  • Two (2) photos of passport size quality
  • Payment in money order form

After you submit your application, expect about a 6-week wait (or longer during some seasons) for your passport. For emergency situations, an extra fee can be paid to obtain a passport as soon as possible.

Passport applications also are available online. Applications for passports can now be downloaded from the internet, completed and printed out. You must apply in person if you are applying for the first time. Passport renewals can be submitted by mail. Check online for in-person application sites.

What is a visa? (No, not the credit card)

A visa is a travel document that permits the holder to enter the country of destination. The visa is usually a stamp that is affixed in your passport by the appropriate official representing your host country. For US citizens traveling as tourists, the tourist visa is often the stamp that is placed in your passport once you arrive at your host country. However, as students you may be required to obtain a student visa prior to your departure from the US in order to STUDY in your host country. You will need to send your passport and two or more photos to the appropriate Consulate of your host country, with the completed visa application in order to accomplish this.

Contact your program specialist to see if a student visa is required for your program. You are responsible for requesting and purchasing your own student visa.