If you don't yet have a passport, apply for one as soon as possible. If you do have a passport, make sure it is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S. If it is not, renew it, because many countries now enforce the six months' rule. Find out how to get or renew your passport by consulting the Department of State's Passport Services.
Passport photos can be taken at the U.S. Post Office on College Street in Clinton, or at CVS Pharmacy, 39 Meadow St., Clinton.
VisaMany countries require a student visa. Your program provider can help you with information about whether or how to apply for one. If you need to contact a consulate or embassy to apply for a visa, use the Department of State's list of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S.
Notarizing documents: If you require notarized documents for your visa, you may take them to any notary public listed in the Hamilton directory (look under "Notaries Public"). There are notaries in the registrar's, alumni and business offices. Do NOT sign your documents in advance: you must sign them in the notary's presence, and you must show identification.
International Student Identity Card
Your program provider may include an international student identity card as part of your program fees. If not, you may still find one to be useful. In some cases, they may provid benefits, including discounts on travel.
Make sure that your passport and F-1 visa will remain valid until your planned return to the U.S. Stop at the dean of students' office to have your I-20 travel signature updated, and make sure you inform the international student advisor of your address abroad. Depending on how long you are away, you may need to obtain a new I-20 travel signature before you return to the U.S. The international student advisor can help you with these questions.
Carrying Your Documents
Be sure to carry ALL your relevant travel documents in a safe and secure place. For international students, this includes not only your current I-20, but also any earlier ones you may have. All students should also leave copies of their passport pages, visas and other essential documents with a trusted friend or family member as a precaution. Having a copy of the information will be extremely helpful if a document needs to be replaced.