A visa is an official document, generally in the form of a sticker or stamp on your passport, which allows you to enter, stay, travel within and leave a foreign country. There are different rules and regulation followed by each country regarding the visa offered to citizens of other nations. A lot depends on the diplomatic relations between the two nations in questions. This means that you might not need a visa to travel to some countries. For instance, citizens of member nations of the European Union do not require a visa to travel to another EU country, while the United States has a Visa Waiver Program, under which citizens of several countries do not require a visa to enter the US.
The good news is that visa requirements have been easing across the globe, with 39% of the tourists worldwide now being able to travel to an international destination without requiring a visa, according to an article in the Toronto Sun. However, if you do need a visa, the first step is to choose the right type of visa, based on the duration of your stay and purpose of your visit to the country.
Types of Visas
- Tourist Visa: This type of visa is issued to people who wish to travel to a country for the purposes of leisure and tourism, and is generally for a short period of time.
- Work Visa: Work visa is issued to skilled a nd unskilled workers, and professionals for the purposes of employment in a foreign country.
- Student Visa: This visa is issued to those who have been accepted by a university or college, for the purpose of attending an educational program.
- Transit Visa: This is a short-term visa, issued to a traveler for the purposes of changing flights or other modes of transport while transiting through a country.
- Medical Visa: Individuals who seek medical treatment in a foreign country are issued a medical visa.
Visa Application Process
The visa application process starts with filling up the visa application form of the country you wish to travel to. For the European Union, there is a common Schengen visa, which allows you to travel within the Schengen zone for a period of 90 days.
Along with the form, you will also need to pay the visa fee and submit some documents, both of which depend on the nature of visit. You might also need to schedule appointments for biometric readings and a visa interview. So, check regarding this with the embassy/consulate of the country you wish to travel to.
Time Taken for Visa Application Processing
The time taken for a visa application to be processed varies from country to country. It also depends on the type of visa you have applied for. For example, a tourist or student visa application to the United States might take a few weeks to a couple of months, whereas, in case of an immigration visa, the time period could stretch to years. The timing of your visa application also affects how long it takes to be processed, such as during the peak tourist season or if the consulate is overloaded with work at that time.
The best course of action is to track your visa status online. Most countries offer this facility, so check with their official visa website.