Cornell University

Visas and Safety

Before working or volunteering abroad, it is important to consider your work authorization needs as well as safety and health concerns. If possible, start conducting research in these areas early: for example, obtaining work authorization can be a lengthy process, so you should start this process at least 3-6 months in advance of your travel date.

Work Authorization, Safety, Health, and Country Information

Consult the “Resources” section for detailed information about planning your trip logistics.For example, the U.S. Department of State has the Travelers Checklist, which provides comprehensive information on traveling abroad, including travel documents, health concerns, and travel tips, as well as the Consular Information Program, which provides country-specific information for every country of the world, including visa requirements, health considerations, and crime information. Additional country-specific work visa information can be found through Goinglobal, and the Library of Congress’s International Gateway houses country-specific historical, social, and political information in the “Country Studies” section.

Cornell resources include the Cornell University International Travel Registry, where you can register your travel plans and receive support for emergency situations. Travel registration is mandatory for all students on Cornell-related business. For health-related advice, health insurance information, and vaccinations, visit Gannett’s Travel Clinic

Evaluating International Programs

If you have decided to pursue an international experience through an organized program, take time to survey your options, as there are countless programs available. Compare relative costs and services offered, including:

  • What is the total charge for the experience—and does it include? For example, does it cover travel expenses, housing, food, utilities, or health insurance?
  • Are you guaranteed a position, or will you have to find one yourself?
  • What happens if you are placed in a position you're unhappy with or you need to leave the program early?
  • How much support does the program provide in terms of finding housing, arranging travel, and assisting with health care emergencies?
  • Will the program give you the names of past or current participants?

There is no one right program for everyone. If you have never lived abroad before, you may want to choose an organization that offers a great deal of support. If you're a seasoned traveler, or have friends or family in the country you're heading for, you may just want help with securing a work permit.