Congratulations on your acceptance to the Smith in Geneva program! There are a number of steps that must be completed to enroll at the University of Geneva and to apply for a student visa. The Swiss government requires all students who are not EU citizens to obtain a student visa before arriving in Geneva.
If you have any questions about any of the paperwork, please ask! Better to ask a "silly" question than to make a mistake and delay the process for everyone.
All paperwork should be submited in person or via mail to the Office for International Study, Wright Hall 125, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063.
Please complete each step below by the dates given. Read all instructions and follow them to the letter.
When entering dates, use the European format of dd MON yyyy (e.g., 12 Oct 2016).
Step 1: Swiss Visa Application Overview
The Office for International Study (OIS) will facilitate a group visa application process for students studying on the Geneva program.
Students must submit a copy of their passport valid six months beyond the end of their studies in Geneva with their Smith program application. Proof of application for a passport or proof of passport renewal such as a receipt will be accepted.
Students (U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international students with valid U.S. visas) will submit all the required visa application materials to the OIS by the stated deadlines. The OIS will in turn submit the visa application materials to the Swiss Consulate in New York approximately 14 weeks in advance of the program start date. Processing may take up to eight weeks. Students will be notified by OIS when their visa applications have been approved. Students will then send their passports to the New York Consulate for visa issuance.
Things to Consider
Because students must send their passports to the New York Consulate for three to four weeks in July or August, international travel during this time is strongly discouraged. Students who arrive in Switzerland without student visas will have to return to the U.S. to obtain the student visa.
Step 2: University Enrollment and Swiss Check Form – March 31 for fall and full-year students; August 22 for spring students.
Refer to the Instructions Sheet (PDF) for information on how to complete the online registration. You will need to upload a photo (.jpg), a copy of your unofficial transcript, and an essay.
Swiss Check Form for Health Insurance Equivalency (PDF) Some information has been entered for you. TYPE the remaining information in Part 1 (last name, first name, phone number, email address, date of birth, nationality, your sex. Leave type of permit blank, but enter that it will be valid from August 2016 or Jan 2017, and that your stay in Switzerland will end in December 2016 or June 2017 (as appropriate). Leave Part 2 blank. Print this form, and sign and date at the bottom of Part 2. Submit completed form to OIS.
Step 3: Geneva Housing Questionnaire and Passport Photos - April 4 for fall and full-year students; September 12 for spring students
There are a few different housing options available to students in Geneva. Please read the description of these options and then complete the Housing Questionnaire by no later than April 6th for fall and full-year students and September 11th for spring students.
Note: If you are registered with Disability Services and need special accommodations please notify the Assistant Dean for International Study before the deadline.
For semester students:
For year students:
Housing Otions_Year (PDF)
Eight Passport Photos
Photos must be official passport photos taken against a plain background, without hats or smiles, etc. Face must be between 32mm and 36mm high, from chin to top of head.
Photo requirements (PDF)
You may use the OIS's photo punch to cut your photos to the proper size. Write your name on the back of each photo, and let ink dry to prevent smudges. Put 8 photos in an envelope and write your name on the envelope, but do not seal the envelope. Submit to OIS. (You will need four more photos for your visa application, if you want to have all 12 done at once.)
Step 4: Associate Director Meetings – April 18-21
Elsie Chantre, associate director of the Smith in Geneva program, will visit Smith April 18–21. Students interested in having one-on-one meetings with Elsie can sign up for an appointment here.
The one-on-one meetings will take place in Wright Hall 237.
Note: Guest students can have their meeting with Elsie via Skype.
Step 5: Predeparture Orientation – April 18, 5:30-8:00
All students attending the Smith in Geneva program must attend this meeting.
Step 6: Swiss Visa Application Materials – May 2 for fall and full-year students; September 9 for spring students
Submit your visa application materials to OIS in one package
- Visit the Swiss Visa Web page
- Download the Student Visa Instructions
- Prepare all documents listed in the Student Visa Instructions with the appropriate number of copies, with exceptions/additions as listed below.
- Submit complete set of visa application materials to OIS.
Visa Application Form
Photo Requirements (PDF)
Attach three correctly sized photos to your visa application forms, and paper clip the fourth photo to one application. You may use the OIS's photo punch to cut photos to European size. If you are not at Smith, the administrative coordinator will punch your photos to size and attach them for you.
Item 4: International students will need to submit a copy of their F-1 visa and I-20.
Item 5: Two copies of confirmation/registration letter from the school, university, etc. in Switzerland. This will come to OIS from Geneva.
Item 6: Two copies of confirmation of payment of school tuition fees. This info will be in a letter from OIS to the consulate.
Item 7: A statement containing exact details of income and assets, with official proof and/or bank statements (two copies each). The purpose of this item is to show you won't be dependent on Swiss public assistance while you are in Geneva. So while there is no specific amount of funds you must show, you do need to show that you or your parents have some amount of money available to support you in Geneva by submitting a recent bank statement. Be sure that the banking information you include states the account holder's name. If you submit a bank statement for an account that is not in your name, you must also submit a statement from owner of the account, saying something like "Please see the attached bank statement for proof that I have sufficent funds to support my daughter, (your name here), during her study abroad experience in Geneva, Switzerland." The statement should be signed and dated.
Item 8: Two copies of previous diplomas and school certificates. Request an official Smith (or your home institution) transcript. Open it, and make a copy.
Item 9: Two copies of a written confirmation that you will leave in Switzerland after you complete your chosen course study. This can be a simple one sentence statement, dated and signed.
Item 10: Two copies of a résumé (biographical data, schools attended, etc.) This should not be a professional résumé. Keep it simple and straightforward; give biographical data, such as your home and college address, your expected date of graduation and degree, etc.
Item 11: Two copies of a brief essay on your future plans. Be brief, no more than one page. Be sure to include that you will return to your home school to finish your degree following your term abroad.
Step 7: Set Up Direct Deposit – May 2 for fall and full-year students; September 9 for spring students
The Office for International Study will issue food stipends to students in mid-August (for fall and year) and mid-December (for spring). In order to receive the food stipend all students (including guest students) are required to set up Direct Deposit with the Smith Payroll & Disbursements Office.
Please complete the Direct Deposit Authorization form below and bring or send it, along with a voided check(s) or memo from your financial institution(s) with bank routing/transit and account information, to the Payroll & Disbursements Office, College Hall 204, Northampton, MA 01063; or fax 413-585-2206
Step 8: Predeparture Info - May 16 for fall and year students; December 12 for spring students
1. Emergency Contact Information
This form must be opened in Microsoft Word. Please TYPE all of your answers into the form. Give as much information as possible. On page two, list the people who should be contacted in the event of an emergency. If you want us to contact your parents, list your parents on page two.
Emergency Contact Info (DOC)
Once you have completed the form, save it using this naming convention:
And send it as an attachment to the OIS administrative coordinator.
2. Break Address and Travel Information
Please complete your summer contact information now, and your travel plans to Geneva as soon as you know them. You can return to this link to update your information as needed.
3. Official Transcript
Request that an official transcript (including Spring 2015 grades for fall and year student and Fall 2015 grades for spring students) be sent to the OIS. The transcripts will be used for academic advising during orientation.
Step 9: Visa Issuance – Approximately July 15 for fall and full-year students, December 7 for spring students
When your visa application has been approved by the immigration office in Geneva, you will be notified via e-mail by OIS. Then you will mail or take your passport to the Swiss Consulate in New York for visa issuance. If you can't go in person to the consulate, you can send your passport via a courier service that provides a tracking number and include prepaid return envelope with a tracking number. Your passport with visa will be returned to you in about one week.