To study abroad, you must have a signed, valid passport from your country of citizenship that will not expire for a minimum of 6 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! U.S. Citizens can refer to the U.S. Department of State's website for more information regarding passports.
A study visa is official permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. U.S. citizens (U.S. passport holders) visiting the Republic of South Africa for ninety (90) days or less for tourism / business purposes do not need visas.
USAC students enrolling in the semester or yearlong program are required to obtain a study visa. You will not be able to apply for your study visa until you have received your official acceptance from the host university. An FBI background check is required and may take between 2-14 weeks to obtain. Study visa applications must be submitted in-person at the South African Consulate in your jurisdiction. You are required to submit your actual passport to the consulate, along with your study visa application, where it will remain until the application process is complete. Traveling internationally prior to the start of your study abroad program will interfere with your study visa application process. Your passport must also contain at least two blank pages, or you will be refused entry, even if you have a study visa. All costs related to obtaining a visa, including travel, are your responsibility.
Further information on how to apply for your study visa will be posted to your Gateway account in the Visa Guide, which you will receive 4 months prior to the program start. Program Advisors in the Central Office are also available to answer any visa questions you may have.
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 U.S. should check with U.S. 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.