Passport & Visa Info


A passport is the document from your home country that confirms your citizenship. You need a current passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date your program ends. U.S. citizens should allow up to six weeks to receive a passport. Passports cost $100. Expedited service costs an additional $60.

To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to apply in person. You can apply in person at the Lewiston Post Office, 49 Ash Street, 207-783-8551. Call ahead to inquire about when they accept passport applications. Directions from Bates. The State Department Passport Services Office “Passport Wizard” outlines how to apply for a new passport or to renew an existing passport.


A visa is a document, provided by the country where you will be studying, which confirms your legitimate status as a foreign student. You need a valid passport in order to apply for a visa. Some visas are free and easy to acquire, while others may be expensive and/or require a lot of documentation and planning ahead. Some countries do not require a visa.

Your program or university will tell you if you need a visa. Your program may facilitate the visa process for you.

  • The Visa Process web page outlines the visa application process for U. S. citizens planning to study in Australia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.  Students studying elsewhere and all non-U.S. citizens should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate to determine visa requirements.
  • Embassy/Consulate Contact Information: Consult the web site maintained by for the web sites of embassies in the United States. Once on the embassy web site, click on the “visa” or “consulate” link and follow the instructions.  As a last resort, there are private, for-profit organizations that will facilitate the visa process, although not for all countries.  Chief among these are Travisa and Passport Visa Express.
  • FBI Background Check: Some visas (Chile, Greece, South Africa) require an FBI Background Check. It is best to follow the advice of your study abroad program on how to complete the background check.  The FBI web site provides the requisite information.  You will need to be fingerprinted as a part of the FBI Background Check.   The closest fingerprint facility is the Lewiston Police Department, 171 Park Street; (M-F, 8-12; 1-4).  The fee is $6.00.  It is best to call ahead: 513-3001; mention that you need finger prints for a  student visa.  Directions to the LPD. You may also use an FBI-approved channeler to expedite the process.  The closest channeler for a Bates student to use is Identogo (Enter zip code for location).  It is best to used the channeler recommended by your program.

Additional Visa Resources

IES Abroad’s Study Abroad Student Visas & ACCeSS – a resources provided by IES Abroad. Information is relevant to all students but may outline different policies based on IES’ preferences.



Customs Departments monitor what you bring into a country. Each country has its own regulations. U. S. Customs provides information for travelers exiting and entering the United States. Check with the embassies/consulates of countries you’ll be visiting for their regulations.