Travel Visas and Foreign Entry
A travel visa is a document issued by a country giving an individual permission to formally request entrance to the country during a given period of time and for certain purposes and usually stamped or glued inside of a passport, or sometimes issued as separate pieces of paper.
Many countries require possession of a valid passport and visa as a condition of entry for foreigners, though there exist exemptions. Visas are associated with the request for permission to enter (or exit) a country, and are thus, for some countries, distinct from actual formal permission for an alien to enter and remain in the country.
Some Visas can be granted on arrival or by prior application at the country's embassy or consulate, or sometimes through a specialized travel agency with permission from the issuing country in the country of departure. If there is no embassy or consulate in one's home country, then one would have to travel to a third country (or apply by post) and try to get a visa issued there. The need or absence of need of a visa generally depends on the citizenship of the applicant, the intended duration of the stay, and the activities that the applicant may wish to undertake in the country he visits; these may delineate different formal categories of visas, with different issue conditions.
Do I need paper tickets to get a visa?
Some representatives request documentation of your travel plans before granting a visa. However, electronic tickets are just as valid as paper tickets. If you are asked to submit documentation, you may submit an official itinerary that can be printed out. To look up your reservation information, please check our FAQ / Help Page.
Some, but by no means all, countries have reciprocal visa regimes: if Country A requires citizens of Country B to have a visa to travel there, then Country B may apply reciprocity and require a visa from citizens of Country A. Likewise, if A allows B's citizens to enter without a visa, B may allow A's citizens to enter without a visa.
A fee may be charged for issuing a visa; these are typically also reciprocal, so if country A charges country B's citizens 50 USD for a visa, country B will often also charge the same amount for country A's visitors. The fee charged may also be at the discretion of each embassy. A similar reciprocity often applies to the duration of the visa (the period in which one is permitted to request entry of the country) and the amount of entries one can attempt with the visa. Expedited processing of the visa application for some countries will generally incur additional charges.
Visas can also be single-entry, which means the visa is cancelled as soon as the holder leaves the country, double-entry, or multiple-entry, permitting multiple entries into the country with the same visa. Countries may also issue re-entry permits that allow temporarily leaving the country without invalidating the visa. Even a business visa will normally not allow the holder to work in the host country without an additional work permit.
Once issued, a visa will typically have to be used within a certain period of time. The validity of a visa is not the same as the authorized period of stay in the issuing country. The visa validity usually indicates when the alien can apply for entry to the country. For example, if a visa has been issued January 1st and expires March 30th, and the typical authorized period of stay in a country is 90 days, then the 90-day authorized stay starts on the day the passenger reaches the country, which has to be between January 1st and March 30th. The traveller could therefore stay in the issuing country until July 1st.
Once in the country, the validity period of a visa or authorized stay can often be extended for a fee at the discretion of immigration authorities. Overstaying a period of authorized stay given by the immigration officers is considered illegal immigration even if the visa validity period isn't over (i.e. for multiple entry visas) and a form of being "out of status" and the offender may be fined, prosecuted, deported, or even blacklisted from entering the country again.
Types of visas include:
- Transit Visa, usually valid for 3 days or less, for passing through the country to a third destination.
- Tourist Visa, for a limited period of leisure travel, no business activities allowed. Some countries do not issue tourist visas. Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas only in 2004 although it did (and still does) issue pilgrimage visas for Hajj pilgrims.
- Business Visa, for engaging in commerce in the country. These visas generally preclude permanent employment, for which a work visa would be required.
- Temporary Worker Visa, for approved employment in the host country. These are generally more difficult to obtain but valid for longer periods of time than a business visa. Examples of these are the United States' H-1B and L-1 visas.
- On-Arrival Visa, granted immediately prior to entering the country, such as at an airport or border control post. This is distinct from not requiring a visa at all, as the visitor must still obtain the visa before they can even try to pass through immigration.
- Spousal Visa, granted to the spouse of a resident or citizen of a given country, in order to enable the couple to settle in that country. Examples include the United Kingdom's EEA family permit.
- Student Visa, which allows its holder to study at an institution of higher learning in the issuing country. Students studying in Algeria, however, are issued tourist visas. 
- Working Holiday Visa, for individuals travelling between nations offering a working holiday programme, allowing young people to undertake temporary work while travelling.
- Diplomatic Visa (sometimes official visa), is normally only available to bearers of diplomatic passports.
- Courtesy Visa issued to representatives of foreign governments or international organizations who do not qualify for diplomatic status but do merit expedited, courteous treatment.
- Journalist Visa, which some countries require of people in that occupation when travelling for their respective news organizations. Countries which insist on this include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United States (I-visa) and Zimbabwe.
- Marriage Visa, granted for a limited period prior to intended marriage based on a proven relationship with a citizen of the destination country. For example, a German woman who wishes to marry an American man would obtain a Fiancee Visa (also known as a K-1 visa to allow her to enter the United States).
- Immigrant Visa, granted for those intending to immigrate to the issuing country. They usually are issued for a single journey as the holder will, depending on the country, later be issued a permanent resident identification card which will allow the traveller to enter to the issuing country an unlimited number of times. (for example, the United States Permanent Resident Card)...
- Special Category Visa is a type of Australian visa granted to most New Zealand citizens on arrival in Australia. New Zealand Citizens may then pemanantly reside in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.
The issuing authority, usually a branch of the country's foreign ministry or department (e.g. U.S. State Department), and typically consular affairs officers, may request appropriate documentation from the applicant. This may include proof that the applicant is able to support himself in the host country (lodging, food), proof that the person hosting the applicant in his or her home really exists and has sufficient room for hosting the applicant, proof that the applicant has obtained health and evacuation insurance, etc. Some countries ask for proof of health status, especially for long-term visas; some countries deny such visas to persons with certain illnesses, such as AIDS. The exact conditions depend on the country and category of visa.
The issuing authority may also require applicants to attest that they have had no criminal convictions, or that they do not partake in certain activities (like prostitution or drug trafficking). Some countries will deny visas if the travellers' passports show evidence of citizenship or travel to a country which is not recognized by that country. For example, some Muslim countries will not issue visas to nationals of Israel or those whose passports bear evidence of visiting Israel. --
May I order a passport through an online service? Yes, see this link: Passports.
Apply for Travel VisasFor Canadian citizens, click here for visas. For USA citizens, use the list below. For other NON-USA citizens, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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