When you are traveling, you may need to get a visa. If you have never had to get a visa before, there are some tips and steps that you need to take to ensure that you are properly prepared for this. Before getting your bags ready, here’s what you need to know about getting a visa:
1. Plan Ahead Of Time
There are some visas that you can get when you land in the country of your choice. However, there are others that require a prolonged interview process and will need to be applied for weeks in advance of your trip. This is why you need to place accordingly depending on the visa requirements for the country you are traveling to.
If you are a citizen of the United States, the best place to start will be the State Department website. The website offers an interactive section where you will be able to see what the visa requirements are for the country you want to travel to. The section is organized by country which makes it easier to use and only offers information for people traveling on a US passport.
2. Factor In The Costs And Reciprocity Fees
The visa cost and reciprocity fees will vary depending on the country you are traveling to and the relationship that your country has with them. For a lot of people, a visa cost surprise of $200 can seriously hurt their travel budget. To avoid this, you need to research the costs of the visa so that you can factor this into your overall travel costs.
It is important to note that these costs will vary from one year to the next. This means that the price you paid last year could be drastically lower than the price that you have to pay this year. This is something you need to keep in mind if you are already planning a trip for the next calendar year.
3. Always Get An E-Visa When You Can
There are some countries that have taken the visa process to the digital world and offer an e-visa or electronic visa. If you are going to visit a country with an e-visa on offer, you should not hesitate and go this route. This process allows you to apply for your visa online and you will receive it digitally so you never have to stand in line or send your passport off.
This is a very efficient system and it is one that every traveler should take advantage of. When you have to complete the application in person, it will take a lot longer to complete and will be more of a hassle. However, the e-visa is much easier and you will save a lot of time. If you want more help with visas or passports you can click here for more information.
4. Consider Applications In Different Countries
This is a travel hack that a lot of long-term travelers will want to use and you might want to consider. A lot of countries will issue visas at a different price depending on where you are applying. An example of this will be a US citizen looking for a multi-entry visa to China. In the US, you will pay around $140 while the same visa from the embassy in Bangkok will cost around $156.
What you need to remember here is that if you are traveling to a number of different countries, you need to compare the visa costs to try and save a bit of money. There are also certain visas which will be easier to obtain when you apply from a different country. An example of this will be a 60-day visa for Thailand which is easier to get in Laos than in the US.
5. Ensure You Have Enough Pages For The Visa
There is a universal requirement for blank passport pages. Most countries will need you to have 2 to 4 blank pages before you are allowed to enter the country with some needing 6 pages. It used to be possible to get additional pages for an existing US passport, but this was phased out in 2016.
To make up for the loss of this service, any US citizen that applies for a passport renewal from overseas will automatically get a 52-page passport. If you are applying from within the US, you will have to specially request this. Getting these larger passports will ensure that you always meet the blank page requirements.
6. Check The Official Immigration Site Of Your Destination Country
There are thousands of visa services out there and many of them will provide you with false or outdated information. This is why you need to check the immigration website of your destination country first. This will have the most accurate information. The US State Department website offers you links to these official websites and you need to make use of this.
7. Be Calm And Humble
So you have your visa figured out and land in the destination country. You would assume everything is fine, but there is still one last barrier and that is the immigration officer. This officer has the power to allow you into the country. Or to have you on the next flight out and this is particularly important for visa on arrival countries.
Most of the time, the officer will look at your travel documents then stamp your passport and let you in. However, there are other times when you will be peppered with questions. Those can range from where you are staying to what the purpose of the visit is. When you are faced with these questions, you need to stay calm and humble.