Whether you are a seasoned international traveler or are planning your first trip overseas, it never hurts to brush up on the facts about travel visas. The information below will answer some frequently asked questions about applying for and using a travel visa.
What is a Travel Visa?
A travel visa may also be known as an entry visa, foreign entry visa, or simply as a visa. A travel visa allows a person to travel from their native country to the port-of-entry at another country, in order to request permission to enter for business, tourism, or another reason, such as study.
It’s very important to understand that obtaining a visa does not mean automatic entry into the country you wish to visit. The immigration officer at the country’s port-of-entry will inspect your visa, passport, itinerary, and any other travel documents before deciding whether you may be allowed to enter the country.
What are the Different Types of Visas?
There are several different types of visas, divided into two different categories: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. The immigrant visa, or resident visa, is intended for someone who plans to move to a new country and make it their permanent residence.
Non-immigrant visas include several different types of travel visas, all of which are temporary. The most common are business visas, student visas, tourist visas, and transit visas. However, there are also several types of non-immigrant visas intended for special situations, involving employees of international organizations, exchange visitors, journalists, athletes, etc.
What Does a Visa Look Like?
Visas may vary greatly in appearance depending on the issuing country. In some countries, a visa is merely an ink stamp that may be shaped like a rectangle, square, or triangle; the ink may be black, blue, green, purple, or red. The stamp may show lots of information, or it might only show the country and the date of issuance, along with the type of visa being granted (student, work, etc.).
Some countries take additional security measures by printing visas on special papers with an embossed emblem from the country of issuance and more detailed information about the visa being granted. This type of visa will usually be fixed to the visa page of your passport.
Do I Need a Visa?
It’s very important to look up the visa requirements for the country you intend to visit, since the requirements vary greatly by country. Some countries don’t require a visa for tourism purposes, but may still require one for business, work, or studying abroad.
How Do I Apply for a Visa?
The visa application process will vary depending on both the country you wish to visit and the type of travel visa you are trying to obtain. However, there are some basic application requirements that are nearly uniform in all countries: a completed application, one or two passport photos, a valid passpport, and the application fee. You also may need to provide proof of your travel itinerary, a letter of invitation to the country, proof of your business purposes, or proof of financial and moral standing.
Where do I Go to Apply for a Visa?
You can apply for a visa by visiting the embassy of the country you intend to visit. Many embassies have websites which will list the hours during which you may visit to apply for a visa. The website may also include information such as an address, phone number, and e-mail, so you can contact them with any questions.
You may apply for your visa yourself, but if you’re on a tight schedule, you may hire a private expediter to handle your visa application.