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Visa is the short form of a Latin phrase, carta visa, which means “the document has been seen.” Visa is a kind of permission in the form of a document which allows a non-citizen to enter a country for travel, research or business purpose. The authorization could be a separate document but more commonly it is a stamp in the passport.

VISA FEE: A visa fee is charged and is usually reciprocal. For example, if a country charges 50 USD for a visa, then the other country will also charge the same amount.


Without a visa you cannot enter a foreign land. Some of the reasons for issuing a visa are:

  • Holiday in a foreign land
  • Studying in a foreign country
  • Working in the visa issuing country
  • Doing business in the host country
  • Getting treatment in a foreign land

All countries issue different types of visa under different names. Though the types of visa differ from country to country some of the common ones are:

Travel visa/Tourist Visa: This is a limited period visa for leisure travel only. One cannot use it for any business activity. Saudi Arabia issues pilgrimage visas for Hajj pilgrims.

Transit Visa: This visa is valid for only 5 days and even less in some countries. This is issued for passing through the country to a third destination.

Business Visa: This visa is issued for engaging in commercial activities in the country of visit. It usually preludes a work visa for permanent stay.

Temporary Work Visa: This is issued for employment in the host country. This is valid for longer period of time than a business visa and therefore it is difficult to obtain.

Spouse Visa: This is given to the spouse or de facto partner of a resident or citizen of a given country, in order to allow the couple to settle in that country.

Student Visa: This visa allows an applicant to study at a higher learning institution in the host country.

Diplomatic Visa: This visa is issued to people holding diplomatic passport.

Journalist Visa: A few countries insist of this type of visa for people traveling with their news organizations.

Immigrant Visa: This visa is issued for immigrating to the issuing country. This is issued for a single journey who will later be issued a permanent resident identification card.

On-arrival visa: This is granted at a port of entry. This is different from not requiring a visa at all, as the visitor must still obtain the visa before they can even try to pass through immigration.

Marriage Visa: This is given for a limited period for individuals wanting to marry with a citizen of the host country.

Working Holiday Visa:  Working holiday visas are usually given to people in the age group of 18 to 30 years and are valid for one or two years. It has a lot of restrictions on the kind of work one can do and the duration as well.

The following countries offer working holiday visas:

1.    Argentina
2.    Australia
3.    Belgium
4.    Canada
5.    Chile
6.    Cyprus
7.    Czech Republic
8.    Denmark
9.    Estonia
10.   Finland
11.   France
12.   Germany
13.   Hong Kong
14.   Ireland
15.   Italy
16.   Japan
17.   Malta
18.   Netherlands
19.   New Zealand
20.   Norway
21.   South Korea
22.   Sweden
23.   Taiwan
24.   United Kingdom
25.   United States


Though visa is mandatory for individuals traveling to another country, yet various schemes allow for visa exemptions for different countries. Some of the exemptions are:

  • All citizens of EU member countries can travel to and stay in all other EU countries without a visa.
  • The United States Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 35 countries to travel to the USA without a visa.
  • Any Gulf Cooperation Council citizen can enter and stay as long as required in any other GCC member state.
  • All citizens of ECOWAS member states, excluding those defined by law as undesirable aliens, may enter and stay without a visa in any member state for a maximum period of 90 days. The only requirement is a valid travel document and international vaccination certificates.
  • Some countries in the Commonwealth do not require tourist visas of citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
  • Nationals of the East African Community member states do not need visas for entry into any of the member states.
  • Some countries in the Association of South East Asia Nations do not require tourist visas of citizens of some Association of South East Asia Nations countries. Except Myanmar, where its citizens are required visa to about 7 out of 10 countries
  • Armenia and Uzbekistan allow citizens of CIS member states, except Turkmenistan (and Tajikistan to enter Uzbekistan), to enter visa-free as tourists.


There are various reasons for visa refusal. A visa can be refused on grounds of:


  • fraud or misrepresentation in his or her application
  • criminal record or has criminal charges pending
  • security risk
  • intends to reside or work permanently in the country she/he will visit if not applying for an immigrant or work visa respectively
  • reasons for travel are not string enough
  • has no visible means of sustenance
  • could not show travel arrangements to the host country
  • does not have a valid health or travel insurance during his/her stay
  • does not have a good moral character
  • is applying on excessively short notice
  • had their previous visa application(s) rejected
  • is a citizen of a country with whom the host country has poor or non-existent relations
  • has communicable disease like AIDS/HIV
  • has previously violated visa rules
  • has a passport that expires too soon
  • didn’t use a previously issued visa at all without a valid reason (e.g. a trip cancellation due to a family emergency)
  • fails to demonstrate intent to return (for non-immigrants)

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