Non-US Citizens Studying Off-Campus

As a non-U.S. citizen, you will have different visa requirements for study abroad in other countries. It is your responsibility to find out the specific requirements.

Q: How do I maintain my F-1 status while studying abroad?

A:

  • To study abroad, you have to have maintained a valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year prior to the semester in which you will study abroad.
  • If your F-1 visa has expired or will expire while you are studying abroad, find out how to renew your visa at an American Embassy in the country you will be in. Rules may vary widely. Research the specific country and embassy and ask about the process.
  • After you have been approved for a study abroad program, visit Jill Munro, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, in order to get a new I-20 printed and signed. This applies to both international and domestic study abroad programs.
  • Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future before you re-enter the United States. Specific embassies of other countries, where you apply for a visa to study abroad, may have different regulations about your passport. Always make sure to check the specific embassy of the country you are going to visit.
  • If you are participating in a Wooster-in program, the College will enroll you in an insurance policy. If you are participating in a third party provider program, please contact that provider to find out how to enroll in an insurance policy. Insurance is mandatory for any student who studies abroad.

Q: How do I get a visa to the country where I want to study abroad?

A:

  • IMPORTANT: It is your responsibility to check visa requirements (based on your citizenship) for the country where you are going to study abroad. Here is the list of embassies of other countries in the U.S.:
  • Ask about the specific country’s regulations concerning the validity of your passport prior to obtaining your visa/traveling to the country. How long does your passport have to be valid for?
  • Make sure you have ample time to apply for your visa. For some countries, getting a visa takes a long time, and you may miss the start of your study abroad trip if you apply for a visa too late. Many countries require you to be present at the embassy/consulate in person in order to apply for a visa. That means you will need extra time for travel to the embassy/consulate. If you do not get your visa in time for the start date of the study abroad program, your program fee will not be returned to you.
  • Find out if you need a transit visa if you are flying through another country to get to the country where you will study abroad.
  • You can hire a company that will process your visa application. The College of Wooster does not endorse any specific companies.

Q: What cultural realities should I consider when studying abroad?

A:

  • Research your host country. The belief systems and values held there may differ heavily from your own. There are social, political, and personal considerations you must make while planning your future study abroad endeavor.
  • Consider your own race and cultural background. Establish what is important and necessary for you and determine how you would navigate new situations. Ask yourself the following questions and do research before deciding on your study abroad location:
    • What is the racial make-up of my host country/city/university?
    • Some countries are more progressive in their beliefs regarding race/ethnicity/religious beliefs/ absence of belief than others. Is my host country like this?
    • In some countries, discrimination may be more overt than it would be in other places. Is my host country like this? Are there local stereotypes or discrimination regarding individuals of my background?
    • How will I deal with discrimination abroad? Are their resources within the host city/university that I can access? If so, how do I find them?
    • Are there any conflicts going on within the host country where citizens and visitors of certain race/nationality/religion/background should be especially aware of? If so, what is the government/police’s role in the conflict?
    • What is the dominant religion in my host country? Will I be part of the religious majority or minority abroad?
    • Are there any laws regarding religion? Is there a separation between religion and government?
    • How tolerant is the host country of other religions? What about atheists and agnostics?

Read this article by Vietnamese student Mai-Linh Bui, from Drexel University about studying abroad in Paris.