A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter or leave the area for which it was issued and is subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization is commonly a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport, but it may also be a document to accompany a passport. A visa generally gives non-citizens clearance to enter a country and to remain there within specified constraints, such as a time frame for entry, a limit on the time spent in the county, and a prohibition against employment. A visa application in advance of arrival gives the country the opportunity to consider the applicant's circumstance, such as reason for applying, details of previous visits to the country and financial security. Some countries also require a Letter of Introduction.
Visa and U.S. Passport processing services - Cornell's preferred vendor
Members of the Cornell community traveling for business or personal reasons are encouraged to take advantage of Cornell's preferred visa and U.S. passport processing services vendor, Travel Document Systems (TDS). Cornell travelers receive a 25% discount off processing fees.
First time users will need to create an account on the "new order" page on Cornell's Travel Document Systems website. You will have the option to pay online or send a check. If you select "by check," TDS will send you an invoice which you can pay personally or, if the visa is for Cornell business, submit for payment via an I Want Doc.
Travel Document Systems will:
- Provide accurate and detailed information regarding what is required for visa application.
- Answer any questions.
- Receive the visa applications, passports, photos, etc.
- Ensure accuracy and completeness; this avoids delays.
- (In most cases) hand deliver to the visa-granting agency.
- Follow up as necessary to receive the visas.
- Return all documents to Cornell.
- Please note that expedited and urgent services are available.
CU staff or individuals will:
- Complete and sign an application (all applicants must sign their own).
- Request and gather all of the information. This may be a “third party,” such as administrative assistant or trip organizer, or the applicant directly.
- Submit the application materials (application form(s), passport, photos, etc.). Multiple applications may be submitted together.
- Note: a third party may fill in most of the information if the general information is the same for everyone.
- Nevertheless—the applicants themselves must
- sign the application
- provide their passport
Users may track their order through the "Check Order Status" link.
Consider the following as you prepare for travel
- Entry and exit requirements for all countries can be found in the country-specific information provided by the United States State Department.
- Apply early for a passport, or renew your old one. It should be valid for at least six months after your anticipated return date, and needs a minimum of two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.
- Make sure to obtain the proper visa prior to traveling. Conducting research or teaching under a tourist visa could jeopardize your ability to return to your destination in the future.
- Consider the nature of your activity to assess the type of immigration documentation needed.
- Each country's visa and passport requirements are different and depend on your citizenship, reason for travel, length of stay, and number of entries required.
- Apply for a visa early to avoid delays or disruptions in your travel.
Proof of Evacuation and Repatriation Coverage
If you're required to show proof of evacuation and repatriation coverage in order to obtain a visa or other travel document, please download the letter at the bottom of this page.
International Students and Scholars Traveling Abroad
International students and scholars should always consult advisors at the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) before leaving the U.S. to ensure you can return to the U.S. without incident. For example, if you have a single-entry U.S. visa and you plan to return to the U.S., you will need to obtain a new U.S. visa while you are abroad.
For the latest information on university updates and resources related to the executive order, see our Immigration and Travel into the United States webpage.
Traveling to Cuba? Visit our resource page.