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Everything You Want to Know About Travel Visas…

Travel Visas

Funny story…

My husband, booked a round-the-world flight after college which included stops in England, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Being young and naïve, he didn’t know that Vietnam required a visa prior to arrival.

Can you tell where this is going?

When he landed in Vietnam, immigration deported him by putting him on a flight back to Singapore (and it wasn’t even on his itinerary!).

Lesson learned:

Don’t be a naïve traveler and arm yourself with this important travel visas info…

What is a visa?

A visa is an authorization permitting a person to enter or leave a country.  They can be issued as a document or stamp endorsed in a passport and are subject to inspection of an immigration official at the time of entry or departure.

Every country has their visa requirements.

For example, some countries require you to have a visa prior to arrival, while others allow the application to be submitted at the border or airport.

Most visas will specify:

  • type of visa,
  • entry conditions,
  • territory covered,
  • dates of validity, and
  • period of stay.

Type of Visas

Every country has their own types of visas, but these are the most common types:

  • Transit visa for travel through a country in a specified period of time (e.g. 10 hours or 2 days).
    • Airside transit visa for travel through a country’s airports.
  • Short-stay visa for short-term visits to the country.  These can include:
    • Private visa by invitation of residents of the country.
    • Tourist visa for leisure travel without business activities.
    • Visa for medical reasons for receiving medical treatment in the country.
    • Business visa for conducting short-term business in the country.  For long term employment, a work visa is usually required.
    • Working holiday visa for people planning a short-term travel and work program.
  • Long-stay visa for long-term visits to the country.  These can include:
    • Student visa for studying at an institution or university.
    • Temporary worker visa for temporary employment.
    • Journalist visa for travel and reporting for a respective news organization.
    • Residence visa for people obtaining long-term residence.
  • Immigrant visa for people intending to immigrate to the issuing country.
  • Spousal visa or partner visa for the spouse or partner of a resident or citizen of the country.
  • Marriage visa for people who intend to marry a citizen of the issuing country.
  • Pensioner visa (aka retiree visa or retirement visa) is for people who want to reside in the issuing country and can provide a foreign source of income and intent not to work in the issuing country.
  • Official visa for government employees conducing business.
  • Diplomatic visa for bearers of diplomatic passports.
  • Courtesy visa for foreign government officials or international organizations who do not qualify for a diplomatic visa.

Entry Conditions

Visas are assigned by the type of entry which include:

  • Single-entry visa allows the holder to only enter the country once (under that particular visa) and will become invalid once the holder departs the country;
  • Double-entry visa allows the holder to enter the country twice.
  • Multiple-entry visa allows the holder to enter the country multiple times under the same visa.
  • Re-entry permits allow the holder to temporarily leaving the country without invalidating the visa.

Dates of Validity and Period of Stay

The date of validity indicates the time period when entry is permitted into the country.  While the period of stay is the duration allowed in the country.

For example, let’s say your visa has been issued with the following information:

  • Issue Date: January 1
  • Expire Date: March 31
  • Period of Stay: 30 Days

This means, you can enter the country any time between January 1 and March 31.  If you enter on March 31, you can stay in the country for 30 days until April 28th.

Important Note: The period of stay includes the day you enter the country and leave the country.  So if you entered on March 31th, then March 31st counts as one day.

It is illegal to stay beyond the period of stay.  The offender may be fined, prosecuted, deported, or even blacklisted from entering the country again, so be sure to calculate your period of stay correctly.

Also, if you feel you will need to stay longer, you may be allowed to file for an extension (for a fee) at the immigration offices.

How to Research a Country’s Visa Requirements

Research a country’s visa requirements before you travel… and give yourself enough time to apply and receive the visa before your travel dates.

VisaHQ.com provides visa information for all countries with information on how to apply (if needed).

If you’re planning on visiting several countries in Europe, you might consider getting the Schengen Visa – a multi-country visa serving 22 European Union states and 3 non-EU members.

Word of Warning

Each country reserves the right to decline or refuse entry even if you have a visa.

In my personal experience, most immigration officers act like prison guards treating visa holders like prisoners.

In fact, I was mortified after returning to the U.S. and heard the way the immigration officers treated everyone (citizens and non-citizens alike).  They aren’t helpful and seem to enjoy shouting, getting irritated, and making you look like an idiot even if you’ve done everything correctly.

My best advice…

Have your paper work and identification in hand,  keep your head down, and don’t speak unless spoken to.

Also, many countries that issue visas upon arrival (such as Cambodia) require copies of a passport-sized photograph.  Be sure to keep several copies of passport-sized photographs with you if you’re visiting such countries.

Thanks and happy travels!

Feature image by Sem Paradeiro.

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