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All students wishing to participate in a study abroad program must have a valid passport or proof of purchase (a receipt) by the time they apply for a program. To be considered valid, the passport must not expire for at least 6 months from the end date of the program. Those without a valid passport should apply for one as soon as possible as it takes several weeks for the passport application to be processed and the document delivered. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State website for a passport application, instructions and additional information. Failure to apply for a passport before the UWM application deadline will result in a student's ineligibility to participate.

A visa is written permission to visit a country granted by the government of the host country. It typically comes in the form of a sticker or stamp placed in a passport. Some of UWM’s study abroad programs require students to have a visa in order to enter the country. Many countries do not require visas for tourist visits less than three months in duration. Students’ study abroad coordinators will inform them if they need to have a visa for their study abroad program.

It is the students’ responsibility to keep up-to-date about student visa requirements for host countries, and if required, to apply for and receive a visa from the host country’s consulate or embassy. CIE and UWM are not responsible for obtaining visas for the majority of participants (the exception being for students attending specific faculty-led programs). Visa requirements change frequently and without notice. CIE and UWM are not responsible in any way for visa entry or entry denial.

When applying for a visa, keep in mind the following:

  • If you receive information about visas from your host institution that is different from what you received elsewhere, contact your study abroad coordinator immediately.
  • The visa process can be lengthy and time-consuming, so it is important to apply as soon as you have all the relevant paperwork. Some consulates require students to appear in person, others require federal criminal background checks and others have certain medical requirements that must be met prior to the visa being issued.
  • Prior to sending in your visa application, check the website of the consulate or embassy of your host country to make sure no changes have been made since you received your visa materials.
  • All visa applications require a valid passport when applying. 
  • The granting of a visa is completely at the discretion of the consulate or embassy, as a branch of the government they are representing. They can choose to issue the visa ONLY for the dates of study, or they can refuse to issue a visa if your dates of study are shorter than the required time for a visa, even if you wish to extend your time with personal travel.
  • Students should notify their study abroad coordinator in writing (email) of their intention to lengthen or shorten their program and state the reasons for the decision. CIE will work closely with them to determine the academic, financial and other implications of this decision, as well as discuss which opportunities are available.
  • Consulates and embassies are free to deny any visa application without any explanation whatsoever (The U.S. government reserves this same right with any foreign nationals requesting a U.S. visa).
  • Allow several days for a response from a consulate or embassy. Keep in mind that you may be denied entry into, or deported from, a country where you do not have the appropriate visa documentation. 
  • If you plan to travel to other countries while you are abroad, you should verify entry and exit requirements for each country.


Assumption of Risk

This is a participant’s waiver of all liability from the University of Wisconsin System associated with the risk of study abroad. Please read this form carefully, and if you have any questions contact CIE.

Behavior Guidelines

By signing this form, you agree to behave in a responsible, lawful manner and not to get involved with any political groups or illegal activities while on the program. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in immediate expulsion from the program at your own expense with no possibility of refund for lost program fees. Behavior guidelines are consistent with the UWM Student Rights and Responsibilities in the Student Handbook.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records. Educational records include financial information, health information, academic or nonacademic misconduct matters, study abroad program and application information. This law prevents UWM, including the CIE study abroad team, from releasing information considered confidential under this law without students’ prior written consent.

Students may choose to complete a study abroad FERPA release form, which would allow UWM to release information to anyone of the students’ choosing during or in connection with their study abroad program. The form can be found in the students’ applications once they are accepted.

Other offices/departments on campus (i.e. Norris, Financial Aid, etc.) may require their own separate release form. Check with those departments directly for their requirements.

Power of Attorney

The Wisconsin Power of Attorney form grants another individual, a student’s “agent”, the power to act and/or sign on their behalf in the management of their finances and property. This form does not authorize anyone to make medical or other health care decisions for them. A Power of Attorney form is likely most appropriate for participants on semester-long or academic-year-long programs, though it can be useful for anyone who may need someone to be able to assist with or handle business in the U.S., such as paying bills or filing taxes.

Students interested in appointing an agent will want to check with their bank, financial institution and any other relevant agencies to ensure that they are aware an agent has been appointed. These institutions may have a separate Power of Attorney or release form that they will need on file, per their individual policies. UWM and the Center for International Education cannot guarantee that UWM’s form will satisfy the requirements of these other entities. In addition, students who are not residents of Wisconsin should complete their home state’s equivalent form in lieu of the Wisconsin Power of Attorney form (i.e. if the agent is likely to conduct business outside of the state of Wisconsin).

The form (available to students once they are accepted into a study abroad program) must be complete and signed before a Notary Public in order to be considered valid. Visit the Travel Services page for more information on notary services at UWM. One copy should stay with the designated person who is granted power of attorney, one copy needs to be turned in to CIE and the student may want to submit one copy to the UWM Bursar's office or their bank. 

Power of Attorney document: 
Wisconsin Power of Attorney

Students are responsible for purchasing airfare to their program destination, unless instructions in their application state otherwise. Check with your study abroad coordinator or the specific program details to see if a flight is included in your program. If so, your application will list details regarding airport transfers, departure date, arrival time, etc. After purchasing flights, complete the flight itinerary form in your study abroad application.

When booking a flight, it is important that students read the stipulations placed on the ticket, including cancellation policies, airline baggage restrictions, etc. The following are questions to consider when purchasing:

  • Can the ticket be purchased for the time period you desire? Return dates for airline tickets cannot be purchased if the return date is over a certain number of days in the future. In this case, passengers must purchase a round-trip ticket with an earlier return date and then change the return date or purchase 2 one-way tickets.
  • Can you make changes to the ticket after purchase
  • What costs will be incurred if you make changes to the ticket? 

Flight security and carry-on regulations change frequently. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website provides up-to-date information regarding air travel. Knowledge of travel regulations will prepare students for the increased security checks at airports, so check this website regularly up to the date of departure.

Questions about luggage regulations or airport security can be addressed to the specific airline carrier. All electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that some devices be powered up, including cell phones. The traveler may also undergo additional screening. 

Students traveling internationally are required to pass through customs and immigration in their host country and upon return to the United States. Immigration officials will check passports and visas (if required), so carry these items on the plane. After passing through immigration, customs officials will monitor what goods and services are brought into the country and may check luggage to ensure that import/export regulations for the country are followed.

Depending on the program, students may have opportunities to travel in-country or elsewhere. Study abroad participants are to maintain the following travel expectations:

  • Travel plans should not interfere with the timely completion of coursework, assignments and exams for their academic program. 
  • They are expected to remain at the program site for the duration of the academic term and to attend the classes in which they are registered. 
  • The on-site staff should be informed of travel plans away from their local city and given emergency contact information. 
  • If students are unavoidably delayed in returning to the program site, they must contact the on-site staff.
  • Students should inform family members of their travel plans and arrange a system for contacting them at regular intervals. 

It is strongly discouraged to travel to areas that the U.S. Department of State has designated as hazardous or has advised against travel. Check the U.S. Department of State website for travel advisories and consular information sheets for any country being traveled to or through before making any travel plans. It is recommended to check with the local U.S. embassy or consulate as well.

Cell Phones & International Calling

  • Students should talk to their cell phone providers to see what cell phone plan works best for them while abroad.
  • Phone calls to and from abroad can be expensive. Some providers offer international plans that can be added on to a regular cell phone plan.
  • If an international package is not included in the student’s cell phone plan, turn the data off to avoid roaming charges while abroad. 
  • Students can purchase an unlocked cell phone that allows them to use an international SIM card while abroad.
  • There are free messaging apps that students can use on their cell phones, tablets or computers. Google Hangout, WhatsApp, LINE, Snapchat, Zoom and Skype are just a few of the free apps that can be used to message friends, family, etc.
  • Always share contact information with family, friends and CIE.
  • Password-protect your cell phone. Set your phone so that it automatically goes into this mode. Use PIN codes to unlock the phone.

Before leaving, be sure to research country codes and city access codes, which can all be found online. When making calls, keep in mind time zone differences.

To make an international call to the U.S., dial the access code for the country from which you are calling, plus the U.S. country code (always “1”) followed by the appropriate U.S. area code and local number. To make an international call from the U.S., dial the international access code, the country code and the phone number, excluding the 0 at the beginning of the number.

Example – Calling the U.S. from France: 001-414-229-4846
France access code = 00
; U.S. country code = 1

Example – Calling France from the U.S.: 011-33-414-229-4846
U.S. access code = 011; France country code = 33

Social Media

Think before you post.

  • Be mindful of what you post on social media during your time abroad to avoid offensive posts or misrepresenting your experience, the program or the host culture.
  • Know the law. It might be illegal to take photos/videos of particular people, places or things.
  • Represent yourself, UWM, your state and your country positively when posting.
  • Ask for consent before taking photos/videos of others, especially children.

Mail & Shipping

Sending mail internationally will take longer than mailing within the U.S. Using a mailing service such as DHL, FedEx or UPS will generally improve transport time and can allow mailed items to be traced. Check with the local embassy, mailing service vendor or local post office for special customs regulations for shipping/mailing items.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is not required, but students may want to purchase separate travel and trip cancellation insurance that would cover unforeseen situations (theft of personal property abroad, last minute cancellation of participation, etc.). It is important to read the fine print and understand what is and is not covered. Students should also pay attention to how much these packages cost. UWM does not promote any specific travel insurance vendors, but a company such as Travel Guard and sometimes even your renter’s insurance may be sufficient. You should make a decision about whether or not to purchase travel insurance based on your personal needs.

Please note: Travel insurance is different from international health insurance. The international health insurance policy (CISI) in which all study abroad students are registered does not cover non-medical situations, including, but not limited to, theft of personal property abroad, lost luggage, last minute cancellations, etc.

Absentee Voting

Students in their host country during a U.S. election can elect to vote absentee. They would need to make preparations at least two months in advance. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and instructions are available online.

Visit our website for more information on logistical resources.