If you’re planning a trip for business or pleasure in certain foreign countries, you may need to get yourself a visa. A visa is a specific endorsement inserted into your passport that gives you permission to visit a foreign country that requires it. It can include information on when you’re allowed to enter, leave or how long you can stay. Check out three key pieces of info you need to know before applying for visa.
You Don’t Always Need One
Not all countries require visas for entry. If you’re planning a limited visit to certain countries, such as France, you may not need a visa for your trip. Other countries, such as Egypt and Australia, require a visa for entry even if your trip is as short as a single day. You can find more info on visa requirements for specific countries at the Swift Passport Services visa page or the US Passports and International Travel destination page.
It Can Take Days – or Weeks – to Get One
How long it takes to obtain a visa depends on your destination, your purpose of travel and the process you need to follow. Each country has a specific application and requirements for obtaining a visa. If your visa requires an in-person interview at a foreign consulate, you could wait more than a week just to get an appointment.
If your visa doesn’t require an in-person appointment, Swift can help speed up the processing time of your visa, with turnaround time in as little as one business day in certain cases.Keep in mind the process will take longer if your visa is initially denied and you’re forced to reapply for a visa.
Visas May be Denied
Incomplete applications, unacceptable photos or insufficient information or documentation are top reasons for a visa denial. Examples include:
- Valid passport: Make sure your passport is valid, has enough pages left for visa entry and will not expire during your stay.
- Visa application: Here you need to fill out the application from the specific country you wish to visit.
- Passport photos: Two passport photos are typically required, with strict requirements on photos that can be used.
- Other: If you’re traveling for business purposes, you generally have to supply a company letter of intent that outlines basic info about your trip. If you use Swift’s expedited services, you’ll also need a letter that authorizes us to submit your information.
If your visa is denied, you typically have to submit a new application and a new round of fees.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.