The Nutshell Guide to Visas


American visa



Are you planning to travel abroad? You may need to obtain a visa for the country that you are travelling to but what are visas and why do you need them?

Any foreigner or a non-citizen who wishes to enter a country requires a visa in order to enter. You may not require a visa for visiting certain countries while for others, you may. This depends on the nature of the relationship between the countries.

A visa is usually a sticker or stamp that is printed or stuck onto your passport. In some cases, the visa may be a separate piece of paper. You usually have to apply for a visa from the consulate, embassy or high commission of the country that you plan to visit. Sometimes, you may be able to get what is called a ‘visa upon entry’ which means that you can get a visa at the airport upon arrival.

For example, if you wish to visit India, you may need to get a visa first. Fortunately, British nationals do not require visas for many countries including Japan, Singapore and Canada. However, if your trip is going to be a longer one, you may need to apply for a visa before you travel.

Visas are issued for various purposes including business (if you plan to do business), tourist, transit, medical, emergency etc. To get a visa, you need to fill in an application form (most forms are available online), a valid passport and generally two photographs.

In addition, you may have to provide extra documents such as hotel bookings, flight reservations and bank statements. Visas are usually issued within one week at most but if it’s a long term visa, it could take longer. Make sure you interpret your visa information carefully.

Your visa will mention the validity period and that is when you are allowed to travel to the country. For example, if you plan to visit Sri Lanka, and your visa expires on June 24th. You must return before that date or apply for an extension if possible.

Sometimes, your visa for a country may be valid but your passport could be expired. In that case, keep your old passport as well as your new passport with you when you travel. Do not under any circumstances, prise the visa out and stick it onto the new passport.










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