Traveling
has become one of the sought-after passions and almost always included in the
to-do bucketlist of people. As Francis Bacon puts it, travel is a part of
education for the younger sort and a part of experience for the elder. However
traveling to a foreign country, be it short or long term, often requires some
proper government documents such as a travel visa upon entry.

 

What
is travel visa and why is it important?

Visa
is derived from the Latin words charta
visa, which means “papers which has been seen”. A visa is a travel document
or endorsement issued by an authorized representative of a country that permits
a foreign person to enter, travel within or reside in the country for a
specific time frame. A travel visa generally includes the following: country
issuing the visa; holder’s photo and personal information such as surname,
given name, passport number, date of birth, gender; status or type of visa
issued; period of sojourn; number of entries; place and date of issue; final
entry date or expiration. The actual visa is mostly a sticker form or a stamp
on the passport or may also be a separate authorization document issued by the
host country immigration body. The factors considered for travel visa issuance
include the proof of financial security, reason for visit, return ticket or
strong evidence of intent to return home and particulars of past trips. The
travel visa however does not guarantee smooth entry or permission to enter a
country. It still has to be subjected to entry permission and may be revoked by
an immigration officer at the port during the visitor’s arrival or any time of
the visit. The tourist may also be bound for security and health tests upon entry.

 

A
travel visa typically grants non-citizens access to enter a country with limited
and specific restrictions such as length of stay, time frame for entry and employment.
Visa is critical to safeguard the citizens and secure the borders of countries.
Though visa is universal, the requirements differ by country. It is necessary
to consider the country of origin, citizenship status or where the holder’s
passport was issued, and country of destination. Citizens of some specific
countries are privileged and exempted from obtaining a visa and may freely travel
and enter some countries for a limited duration of time. While citizens of
other countries may have difficulty or get refusal from obtaining travel visa
to specific countries. For examples, South Korean tourists are not allowed to
enter the North while citizens of Israel are banned and other foreign visitors
with Israeli visa or stamp may be refused entry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 

What
are the major types of visa around the world?

Every
nation has several types of visa, which sometimes bear different names. However
the most common types and names of visa according to the reason for travel are (1)
transit visa, (2) short-stay or visitor visa, (3) long-stay visa, (4) immigrant
visa and (5) official visa.

 

A transit visa is issued temporarily at
specific airport counter during intermediate international stop over. Some
countries grant transit visa only if the visitor’s stopover is 24 hours or
more. However Singapore can issue transit visa even for 4 hours stopover in the
country and provides free tour. Countries such as United Kingdom, Britain and
England requires a Direct Airside Transit
Visa (DATV) from countries outside the European Economic Area and
Switzerland, who will be traveling through their airports and changing flights but
will not pass through the immigration control. Crew member, steward or driver visa on the other hand is issued to international
transportation employees.

 

Short-stay or visitor visa can be further subdivided
according to purpose. Tourist visa is
issued for pleasure and leisure travel with time constrain. Business visa allows holder to conduct,
manage or own an investment activity and engage in commerce. Generally, this
type of visa does not require actual labor work and prohibits permanent
employment. Working holiday visa is
issued allowing travellers to seek temporary employment in the country.  Medical
visa is granted to individuals seeking medical consultation and procedure
in specialized hospitals or other leading medical facilities of the destination
country. Private visa is granted for
private visits usually with invitation from citizens of the destination
country. Athletic or artistic visa is
intended for athletes and artists including supporting staff, who will engage
in competitions, shows, concerts and other events. Cultural exchange visa is issued to participants in an international
cultural exchange program. Pilgrimage
visa is issued to foreign pilgrims who wish to visit sacred places and take
part in specific religious activities. However, holders this type of visa may
only be allowed to travel in group. Examples are Holy Land Pilgrimage visa and Saudia
Hajj visa. Refugee visa is for stateless
people who flee from threats of persecution with human rights violations in
their own country and seek asylum in another land.

 

Long-stay visa is valid for an
extended and fixed stay. Student visa
or study abroad visa is obtained to experience education in another country.
This may apply to exchange students for just few weeks or to students seeking
higher education such as masters or PhD and may stay for two to three years.
Training and research visa allows holders to participate in work-related
trainings or development programs for skills enhancement. Temporary worker visa or work permits allows a foreign national to legally
secure employment in the country. Some countries issue this visa only to
approved employment before arrival to the country. While in other countries holder
of this visa may be eligible to apply for a permanent residency or
naturalization. Journalist visa is
required from media crew and production team for broadcast or media production
purposes. Residence visa may be in
the form of document or card, issued to non-citizens to live, work and study in
the country for indefinite or fixed time duration. This may either be temporary
residency or permanent residency. Asylum
visa is issued to protect people who were exiled and suffered or reasonably
fear persecution in home country for political reasons.

 

Immigrant visa is issued to a
foreign individual who intends to immigrate or live permanently in the country.
Spouse or partner visa is granted to
legally wedded wife or husband, de facto partner or civil partner of a resident
or citizen so that the couple can settle in the country together. Marriage visa allows the foreign fiancé or
fiancée to enter the country prior the intended marriage or civil partnership with
the citizen petitioner. Pensioner visa,
also popularly regarded as retiree or retirement visa, is issued by several
countries to foreigners who wish to retire in the country with pension,
irrevocable annuity or retirement fund. This may or may not be limited by age,
depending on the conditions of the issuing country.

 

Official visa is intended for
government officials or representatives travelling abroad for diplomatic
missions. Diplomatic visa is usually
given only to diplomatic passport holders. Courtesy
visa is granted to international organizations or foreign government
representatives who are not entitled under the diplomatic status. A good
example is Australia’s Special purpose visa.

 

Travelling
is a fulfilling and pleasurable experience. Although people are free to travel
around the world, travellers still need to ask permission to enter and visit
other nations by obtaining the required and specific travel visa.