What is a Travel Visa? Why Do I Need it?

Omeron Travel
on 3rd June, 2020
5 minutes read
What is a Travel Visa? Why Do I Need it?

Traveling around the world is one of the classiest hobbies you can have. The world is full of mesmerizing places and anyone with the ability should take full advantage of it. But you can’t just randomly hop on a plane and land on your dream destination. There is a process and that’s where travel visa comes in. A travel visa is a type of visa that allows you to travel from one country to another. Pretty straightforward, right? In this post, we will cover everything about travel visas so that your every trip becomes a painless one. 

What Are Travel Visas?

Before we jump into details about travel visas, it’s important that you understand what a visa is. Now, most of you already know. But we like to start things from the bottom and make our way up to the top. 

Visa is an official document that allows the bearer to enter a country that is not their native country. A visa is issued by the authority situated in the native country on behalf of the destination country. 

There are several kinds of visas. Business visa, travel visa, work visa, student visa, spousal visa, transit visa, refugee/asylum visa, etc. A travel visa is one of them and it’s the most common type of visa issued by any government. 

A travel visa, also known as a tourist visa is issued for leisure purposes to the applicant. You can use it for travelling to different locations, check into hotels, etc. But you can’t engage in any kind of work- or business-related activities. 

Travel visas also come in different lengths of time. It totally depends on the host country’s foreign policy. While some countries allow visitors to stay pretty long, some countries might not. 

Brief History of Travel Visas 

When did people come up with the idea of a document that is required to enter any foreign country? 

In the 15th century, visa and passport were similar documents. You needed a travel document to enter foreign premises. The conventional concept of passports and visas were introduced in the late 19th century.  At first, passports and visas were not mandatory for traveling. People could travel from country to country in trains without any documents, by carrying only the passport. But eventually, it created bottlenecks and it was hard for the authorities to control the crowd. 

The visas we know now were officially introduced after the first world war. 

Why Do I Need a Travel Visa?

If you have read so far, you should have somewhat an idea about why travel visas are necessary. A travel visa is required for countries with visa restrictions. If your country does not have a visa policy in place with the destination country, a visa is required. 

Countries that have visa policy in place with your country, you can visit freely between the two without any travel visa. For example, citizens of America and Canada don’t need visas to travel either of the countries. 
The passport index is a crucial part in deciding whether you need a visa to travel to a country. Some countries have a higher value than others. It is a metric to measure how powerful the countries passport is, effectively indicating the power of its foreign policy. 

Visa Policy 

If you have noticed, we mentioned the term “visa policy” in the previous section. So, what is a visa policy? 

A country’s visa policy dictates who may or may not enter the country’s premises. The policy allows people to enter the country without any travel visa, but a passport is always required. 

Visa policies are usually bilateral which means the agreement between the two countries goes both ways. Both countries will allow each other’s citizens to enter their country. It’s very common, but it’s not the only policy out there.  For example, citizens of Canada can visit Grenada without a travel visa, but citizens of Grenada are required to apply for a visa in order to enter Canada. 

There are no concrete rules for visa policies. It solely depends on the countries coming to an agreement. The countries can place any rule as they see fit. There are some basic things like diplomatic relations, illegal immigration, etc. that require some fine-tuning. 

Why Visa Restrictions?

Some countries have visa restrictions while others don’t. Visa restrictions are put in place to control the movement of visitors in and out of the country. Preventing illegal immigration and criminal activities is also an important factor for visa restrictions. 

It becomes a lot easier for the authorities to control the people who come to the country. There are individuals that look for opportunities to enter a country with a better economical condition and work their illegally. A visa restriction can stop that from happening. 

Categories of Travel Visa

There are two main categories of travel visas. One is on arrival visa or also as Visa On Arrival (VOA). The other one is a regular travel visa. Some countries provide electronic visas as well which are very convenient to acquire. 

Visa on arrivals is granted once you arrive at the destination port. Don’t confuse it with visa-free entry. It’s very important that you carry all the necessary and valid documents in order to get the visa on arrival. Otherwise, you might have to return empty-handed. The criteria vary from country to country as well. 

Conventional visas are where you apply for a travel visa prior to arriving at the host country. It’s done from your country and you only cross the border with a valid visa. It’s the safest and you can expect a hassle-free entry at your destination country. 

Applying for a Travel Visa

Now, let’s get you a travel visa. You need to find the proper authority located in your country that can provide you with a visa. You can use a search engine such as Google to conduct your research. Once you find the authority, go to the website to check if you are eligible to visit and what documents you require. 

When it comes to documents, the list might vary from country to country. Here is a general list for your convenience: 

  • A letter of invitation (if applicable);
  • A photocopy of your passport information page; 
  • One or more recent photographs of you in proper dimensions specified by the visa authority;
  • Proof of residency and bank solvency;
  • Airplane tickets;
  • Visa application forms with accurate information;
  • Visa application fees.

These are the most commonly asked documents across the world. Make sure you go through the instructions properly before applying. Once you gather all the documents, you are required to visit the travel visa provider authority in order to submit your documents. Or, you might get away with submitting the scanned copies online. 


Interview Before Getting the Travel Visa

Some countries might ask for an interview before they process your visa application. Don’t be afraid, it’s usually nothing serious. You are asked to join an interview session on a pre-specified date and time. You will be asked a series of questions and they might vary from person to person. Some general questions are listed below. 

  • Why do you want to visit?
  • How long do you intend to stay?
  • Why did you choose this time of the year?
  • Which places do you intend to visit?
  • Are your air tickets booked?
  • Who will you visit during your stay?
  • Where do you intend to stay?

Make sure that you answer these questions confidently and don’t hide any information. The authority has enough resources to track your movement and any inconsistency in your information might result in a serious penalty. 

Processing Time 

When it comes to travel visas, you are required to consider the processing time of the visa. It varies heavily from country to country and sometimes it’s not consistent for the same authority. Before you book air tickets, make sure you have a good idea of how long it might take. What are you going to do with air tickets if you don’t have a visa? 

Process Fees

Most importantly, don’t forget to include travel visa processing fees in your travel budget. A lot of us visit different countries on a tight budget and sometimes the ignorance might cause you the entire trip. The visa processing fee can be anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. For example, the US visa processing fees start from $160!

Take Away 

A travel visa is a crucial part of traveling around the world. The majority of the countries in the world require some sort of travel visa to allow entry. So, make sure you have the proper knowledge regarding visa restrictions and other aspects before you start planning your trip.