To study abroad, you must have a signed, valid passport from your country of citizenship that will not expire for a minimum of 1 year/12 months after your planned return date. If you do not have a passport, or it's about to expire, make sure you apply or renew as soon as possible! US Citizens can refer to the US Department of State's website for more information regarding passports.
A student visa is official permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. All US passport holders are required to obtain a visa prior to entering China. In addition to acquiring a student visa, yearlong students and any students with an internship will also have to apply for a Residence Permit within 30 days of arriving in China. Don't worry, the on-site USAC staff will assist you in this process.
Further information will be posted to your Gateway account in the Visa Guide, which you will receive four months prior to the program start. Program Advisors in the Central Office are also available to answer any visa questions you may have.
All costs related to obtaining a visa, including travel, are your responsibility.
In some cases you may need to apply for your visa in your home country. Check with your home country consulate, as well as the embassy of the country in which you plan to study, regarding visa requirements. Permanent Residents of the US should check with US Immigration as leaving the country for more than one year may jeopardize permanent resident status. Tax clearance and re-entry forms may also be necessary in these cases.