Do I need a travel visa if I’m traveling to another country? It’s probably a good idea to know the answer to this question before you arrive at your destination. Prepare yourself ahead of time, and make sure you have everything you need before you head on your way. Find out which countries require a travel visa, which don’t, and how to apply for a travel visa for those that do.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty details of how to apply for a travel visa, let’s talk about what exactly a travel visa is, why we need one, and how to find out if the country you are planning to visit, requires a travel visa.
What is a travel visa? A travel visa is an official document that allows you to legally enter a foreign country, for a certain period of time. There are several different types of travel visas you can apply for. Tourist, student, or business visas are just a few. Most visas are usually stamped on your passport.
What is the purpose of the travel visa? Visas are necessary if you’d like to travel to a country that does not have a visa policy in place with your home country. Many countries have visa policies and agreements that allow their citizens to travel freely between them without the need for a visa. Take Canada and the United States for example: a travel visa is not required when it comes to Canadian citizens visiting the U.S. and vice versa. In this case, your valid international identification such as a passport is required.. However, let’s say a U.S. citizen wanted to travel to Brazil or China – in that case a travel visa is required.
How will I know when I need a travel visa?Depending on where you are traveling, some countries may require a visa, while others will allow a certain threshold for the number of days visiting before requiring a visa. For example, the latest Official Travel Documents blog discusses the changes coming to those interested in traveling to Europe. The article goes on to explain that in 2021, a visa or authorization, will be required to travel within the Schengen Area. As of now, travelers are free to roam across the borders for up to 90 days. To find out if the country you plan on visiting requires a visa, click here.
So we know what a travel visa is and why we need one, now let’s talk about how to apply for one. Generally speaking, the process for applying for a travel visa is very similar across different countries around the world. Some countries will not allow you to visit unless you have completed the visa application process in advance. While other countries will give you the option to complete the application upon arrival or may not require one at all. First, let’s go over what steps you need to take if you choose to apply for a travel visa in advance.
What documents do I need for a travel visa? After you have decided which country you would like to visit, you will be required to file your visa application with the embassy of the country you plan on visiting, as well as providing a few supporting documents. The following list includes the most commonly requested supporting documents when you apply for a travel visa:
Letter of invitation
Photocopy of the information page of your passport
Two size-appropriate photographs of yourself
Proof of financial support during the trip
Proof for purpose of travel (i.e. tourist, study, business)
Visa application fees
How to apply for a travel visa.Go to the tourism or immigration section on the official government website of the country you plan on visiting. Fill out the required travel visa application and be sure to include any supporting documents requested such as the ones we mentioned above. Some applications can be sent through electronically, while others may have to be sent via mail.
Let’s use the United States for example. Let’s say you are a non-citizen interested in coming to America for a vacation or would like to come on a work visa. Ustraveldocs.com lays out a step by step process for applying for a travel visa for those who wish to come to the U.S.
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.
Pay the visa application fee.
Schedule an appointment for your interview on this web page. You will need the following information in order to schedule your appointment:
Your passport number
The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt.
(Click here if you need help finding this number.)
The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page
Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You must bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one photograph taken within the last six months and your current and all old passports. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.
During your interview, you may be asked questions such as the following:
Why do you want to travel to the United States?
Why do you want to visit during this specific time?
Do you have a criminal record?
Are you traveling with someone else?
Who will you be visiting?
How long will you stay?
Have you booked airline tickets?
Do you have health insurance for this trip?
Will you return to your home country after your visit?
Now, let’s say you are a U.S. citizen looking to visit another country. There are two ways in which you can obtain a visa. You can complete a process similar to the one we listed above for those coming into the U.S. (specific to the country you want to visit), or you have the option to apply for a visa upon arrival. A visa upon arrival is completing a visa application once you have arrived at the airport of your destination. Keep in mind, going this route could mean spending more time at the airport depending on the time of year you are traveling and how popular your destination is. There are also no guarantees that you will be granted a visa on arrival. Again, it depends on which country you plan on visiting. Be sure you are aware of the options you have before traveling. Allied Passport & Visas uses someone who is traveling to Kenya as an example.
“For American travelers, your best resource will be the Department of State website. We recommend simply doing a Google search using the easy-to-remember keywords: State Department Travel + the country you’re traveling to. For example, a Google search for “State Department Travel Kenya” will direct you to the Kenya – Bureau of Consular Affairswebpage. From there find the Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements section, which will reveal the following travel requirements: a passport and visa are required for entry into Kenya. Visas may be obtained in advance, although airport visas are available for U.S. citizens. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival.
One last thing to consider before embarking to a visa on arrival country is to review your passport. Although your passport may not be expired, depending on where you are visiting, your host will require a certain number of months validity beyond your date of exit. If your passport will expire in less than six months, it’s time for a renewal.”
Applying for a travel visa could be a tedious task and add strain to your trip planning. Allow VitalChek to lend a helping hand. If you need an authorized copy of your birth certificate to apply for your travel visa or passport, you can order it quickly and securely through VitalChek.