With the return of international travel and with many countries around the world easing their entry restrictions, the U.S. passport office has been inundated with new passport applications and passport renewal requests. Even companies that provide passport expediting services are reporting significant delays in the issuance of passports.
We don’t want any of our students to have to postpone their international travel as a result of a delayed or expired passport! So… don’t wait! Apply for a passport or renew your passport TODAY!
If you’ve never been issued a passport before:
Instructions and advice can be found on the U.S. Department of State website: How to Apply for a Passport.
If you have a passport already, it is critical that you check the expiration date. Many countries require that the passport be valid for at least 6 months AFTER your intended date of departure from the country. (So, if your program ends in May, your passport would need to be valid through at least November.) If you need to renew your passport, instructions on how to do so by mail are available through the U.S. Department of State website. Please note, however, that in order to renew by mail, the following requirements must be met:
- You must have your current passport in your possession, and it must be in good condition (normal wear and tear is acceptable).
- The passport must have been issued within the last 15 years, and you must have been at least 16 years of age at the time it was issued.
- The passport was issued in your current name, or you can provide documentation of the legal change of your name.
If you do not meet all of these requirements, you’ll have to apply in person for a new passport (see link above for how to apply for a new passport).
Please note that while the advice listed on the U.S. Department of State website may indicate that 6 months is sufficient time for processing, it has been reported that it is taking longer than this. API recommends that you pay for expedited processing, ensure that you obtain a tracking number when mailing your application (for the added security of knowing when it has been delivered), and that you pay the extra fee for the expedited return mailing fee.
As a reminder, many countries require that U.S. students obtain visas in order to enter the country, and different countries have different visa requirements. Check the embassy or consulate website of the country you want to study in to find out what is required and how to schedule an appointment.
Similar to the passport process, visa appointments are taking additional time to schedule. Contact the consulate or embassy as early as possible to secure an appointment. Note: you may need proof of program enrollment from the university or college that you are going to attend, and some consulates may have very specific instructions on when you can officially request an appointment. (If you’ve already applied to an API program, your Program Manager can also provide you with information on the visa process, if applicable.)
Once your appointment is scheduled, the process of obtaining your visa can take anywhere from 2-3 months, depending on the country, the consular requirements, the volume of requests, etc. In order to obtain a visa, you must also submit your valid passport.
What does this mean? If you plan to travel to a country that requires a visa, and you do not have a valid passport, you’ll need to start the application process early enough to have your passport in hand at least 3 months in advance of your program start date to allow sufficient time for visa processing.
The good news? Once you have your U.S. passport, it is valid for 10 years, so you have a decade of opportunities to explore the world!