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International Students

International students at Northwestern can and do study abroad! To go abroad, you will need to work with both a GLO adviser and your OISS adviser. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – we’re here to help!

Note: Once you have confirmed your participation in a program, you must meet with your OISS adviser to be properly categorized in SEVIS.

Visas & Travel Documentation

As part of the planning process for study abroad, you should make sure you understand all entry requirements to your intended study abroad destination. This also applies to any countries outside of the program that you may wish to visit while abroad.

There are additional considerations to studying abroad while you are a J-1 or F-1 visa holder in the U.S., including:

  • Depending on your country of citizenship, you may be required to obtain a visa for your destination country. In some cases, international students may be required to return to their home country to apply for the study abroad visa.
    • Note: GLO and OISS have limited resources and cannot advise on any non-U.S. student visas, so the majority of research will have to be on your own. We recommend contacting the nearest embassy or consulate of your destination country and looking at direct government websites (.gov).
    • Consider the diplomatic relationships between your home country and the destination country. If there are strained or unusual political situations, it might be more difficult for you to get a visa to study abroad. If you have questions about political situations affecting your ability to get a visa, you are strongly encouraged to speak with your GLO or OISS adviser early in the process.
  • There are also considerations to ensure you maintain F-1 or J-1 visa status in the U.S. while you study abroad (for example, if your visa is set to expire while you are abroad). Your OISS adviser can help you understand the necessary steps.
  • In addition to any required visa for your destination country, you will also need several other documents to travel: a valid passport that expires at least six months after the end of your program, a valid U.S. visa, and your most recent I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature (for re-entry to the U.S.).
  • Review travel information on the Northwestern International Student Travel website:
    • Before traveling, make photocopies of ALL documents: passport, I-20/DS-2019, visa stamp, I-94 record. Save digital copies, leave a set of copies at home or with a friend and carry a copy with you separate from your originals. Lost or stolen documents are much easier to replace if you have digital copies.
    • Remember to print and save your I-94 record each time you return to the U.S.

Additional Tips

  • Research and apply to programs early.
  • Speak to a GLO adviser as you consider what type of program you are looking for and learn what documentation you will need.
  • Communicate with your OISS adviser as soon as you have picked a program. They can discuss how studying abroad will affect your F-1/J-1 visa status and the proper documents and signatures necessary to re-enter the U.S.
  • Be sure to let your OISS adviser know when and where you will be studying abroad.