Why Do I Need a Visa to Travel?

A travel visa is often a mandatory document for international passengers to be granted access into their destination.

If a visa is part of a state’s travel requirements, visitors without one will not be allowed to cross their borders. 

It is important to check the visa policy of the country or territory you plan to go to well in advance of travel. This ensures you have sufficient time for the visa application process, if it is a requirement.

What Is the Purpose of a Visa for International Travel?

Each government has its own visa policy, which serves a purpose that is specific to the country’s needs.

Generally, the function of a travel visa allows authorities to:

  • Tackle illegal immigration
  • Manage security concerns
  • Reciprocate visa restrictions imposed on their own nationals

Types of Visa

There are different types of visa, and they act in varying ways.

The specific visa that a passenger requires depends on the intention of their visit.

Tourist Visa

A tourist visa is the most common type used by international travelers. It allows the bearer to visit the issuing country for tourism purposes.

A tourist visa does not permit the passenger to legally work or carry out business in the specified country or territory. A different type of visa is required for these purposes.

Typically, a tourist visa is only valid for short stays, usually from 30 days to 6 months. Travelers wishing to stay for a longer period of time usually need to apply for a different type of visa.

Business Visa

A business visa allows the holder to legally perform business activities in the issuing country, such as attend conferences or meetings.

This type of travel document only permits the visitor to stay temporarily while they conduct business.

A business visa does not grant the bearer the right to legally work in the relevant country. If you intend to seek full time employment, a work visa or permit would be needed instead.

Work Visa

A work visa or permit is a necessary condition for those wishing to enter a country to start, or seek, paid employment.

Sometimes this type of visa is also a requirement for volunteering and unpaid internships. 

There are numerous types of work visa, and they depend on factors such as the nature of work and length of stay.

Transit Visa

Some countries require passengers to hold a transit visa in order to pass through the country of issue, usually for a layover.

Often, this type of visa is for short periods of time, from a matter of hours, to 10 days. These limits depend on each destination’s visa policy.

Student Visa

A student visa allows you to stay in the host country to study at an institution of higher learning.

Usually, a student visa is valid for a long period of time, such as a year.

Some visa policies allow those with a student visa to carry out paid work, with some specific conditions.

Visa Validity

The length of time that a visa is valid for depends on numerous factors, such as:

  • Country of issue
  • Type of visa
  • Nationality of the applicant

Visa validity varies based on the policy of each issuing state. It is important to know the specifics of the type of visa you are applying for, and to ensure that you abide by these terms once you arrive.

What Is the Different Between Visa Validity and Length of Stay?

The duration that a visa is valid for is not the same as the length of permitted stay.

Visa validity states how long the visa can be used for, whereas the length of permitted stay is how long the bearer can stay in the country of issue.

For example, a visa may be valid for 90 days with a permitted length of stay of 30 days. This means you can use the visa at any point within the 90 days of validity, but once you are in the country, you can only stay for 30 days.

This difference is usually to give travelers flexibility on when they choose to start and end their trip, once the visa has been issued.

How to Get a Travel Visa

There are different ways to apply for a visa, depending on the type of document the passenger needs.

These are the main 3:

  • Apply online
  • Go to a diplomatic government office
  • Request a visa on arrival

Apply Online

Applying for an online visa is the most common method.

It is a quick and easy process that’s completely online, and keeps you from applying in person.

In addition, this procedure is generally the fastest way to obtain a visa. The application form takes a matter of minutes, and travelers usually receive their approved travel document within days.

Go to an Embassy or Consulate

Some destinations do not have an online visa option. In this case, it is necessary to go in person to an embassy or consulate to apply.

This can be a lengthy process, and sometimes an appointment is necessary. It is advisable to start this process well in advance to avoid any possible delays.

Obtain a Visa on Arrival

It is sometimes possible to apply for a visa once you have arrived at your destination.

This involves queuing at border control and starting the process once you are there, as the application cannot be completed before arrival.

In addition to these delays, this method also comes with some level of risk. A visa on arrival is not guaranteed. Your application could be rejected, and you would not be able to enter the country.