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A visa is an endorsement or stamp granted by consular officials of a foreign country authorizing the bearer to visit, study, reside, or work in that foreign country for a specified time period.

It is the students’ responsibility to obtain any and all required visas before departing for their program location, per BOSP's Participation Agreement (Section 1).

BOSP will only provide visa support letters for students participating on consecutive BOSP opportunities in the same country, or with a demonstrated professional need.  Please note that a visa support letter is only one piece of a visa application package and does not guarantee a visa approval.  Participants still must familiarize themselves with other requirements and the specific visa rules of the country/region with which they will be traveling. 

U.S. Citizen Visa Requirements

BOSP program locations that always require a visa:

  • Australia
  • Beijing
  • Istanbul
  • Kyoto
  • Hong Kong

BOSP program locations that sometimes require a visa:

  • Berlin
  • Cape Town
  • Florence
  • Madrid
  • Paris
  • Oxford
  • Santiago


Upon acceptance into the program, students will be issued an official China visa invitation letter. It is the responsibility of the student to gather all necessary documents, insure that their passport is valid for the appropriate period, and make their application to the relevant Chinese embassy or Consulate, depending on their residency. Associated costs for the Chinese visa application are the responsibility of the student and could be upwards of $185.

U.S Citizens studying in the Berlin, Florence, Madrid, and Paris Programs

  • Germany, Italy, France, and Spain are all part of the Schengen Agreement. This agreement standardizes visa requirements and eliminates border control between them. As a U.S. citizen, you may continuously travel within the Schengen countries for 90 out of 180 days. Most quarter-long programs are between 75-85 days, leaving few additional days for travel or other non-BOSP program opportunities before or after our programs end. For more information regarding the Schengen countries, please review the Schengen Fact Sheet.
  • For up-to-date information on international visa requirements for U.S. citizens, please visit the Country Specific Information section of the U.S. Department of State website.

Non-U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Resident Visa Requirements

Depending on their nationality, non-U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are normally required to apply for a visa for all of our overseas programs. With a typically longer processing time of 6-8 weeks, it is essential that non-U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents notify their Program Advisor of their immigration status as early as possible in the orientation quarter in order to facilitate the visa application process.

All participating non-U.S. citizens who are studying at Stanford on a F-1 or J-1 status need to request a “travel signature” on their DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66) or I-20 from the Bechtel International Center before departure. You will be permitted to re-enter the U.S. on the same student status only if you get this signature before you leave. For more information, visit the Bechtel International Center site.

All international students participating in the New York program will have to obtain authorization to work through Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Stanford in New York's CPT Course is the NYC Seminar. Please see Bechtel International Center's CPT eligibility criteria and detailed guidelines on the application process. Once CPT is approved and an updated I-20 is obtained, students may also optionally apply for a social security number.

Consular and Government website links

More information about visa requirements can be found on the US Department of State's International Travel website - please review your destination's entry, exit, and visa requirements.

Recommended Visa Service Provider

VisaCentral by CIBT 

VisaCentral by CIBT offers online Stanford rates, or contact the local office:

  • In person: 555 Montgomery St. Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94111

                              Walk-in hours:  8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • By phone: (877) 535-0688