Do I need a Visa?

What is a Visa and do I need one?

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A visa is temporary permission from a foreign country to enter that country. In most cases, visas can be sought for reasons of business, leisure, schooling or religious grounds, depending on the requirements of the particular country of travel. Each of these four reasons for travel has vastly different visa application requirements by country of travel. Each country reserves the right to refuse granting of a visa in certain circumstances, so it is most important that information provided is accurate and complies with the requirements of the country.

Why do I need a visa for some countries and not others?

Most visa requirements are based on treaties of trade and commerce, diplomatic or historical relations between nations. Requirements for visas vary from country to country and are also dependant on the nationality of your passport.

Factors to be considered when applying for a visa are whether single or multiple entry visas may be required. A single entry visa is exactly that: you may only enter the country once using the visa for the purpose it was issued. If whilst you are visiting the country which has approved a single entry visa, you exit to a neighbouring country with the intention of returning to the original country, you will not be allowed back. If in fact you do not have to the correct documentation for entry to the country of destination, you are most likely to be declined boarding an aircraft, or from crossing into that country by land or sea.

Multiple entry visas may limit the number of times you may enter the country and once the visa expires, regardless of whether you have entered more than once or not, you would have to apply for a new visa.

Each country has differing requirements for issuing of their visas, but in general you will be required to supply between 1 and 4 photographs, a completed application form (which may be in an electronic format), a copy of your itinerary, your passport and any other supporting documentation that may be required. Visa applications may take up to 4 weeks for processing, so make sure you allow sufficient prior to your departure for getting your visas organised. As visas for different countries cannot be issued simultaneously, you need to take these issuing delays into account if visiting two or more countries requiring visas.

Most importantly, it your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation for your trip, so check that your visas have the correct dates for entry and / or exit once they have been received back from the Embassy. If not date specific, most visas require you to entry the country within 90 to 180 days of being issued.

All travellers entering the USA and / or Canada and travelling on the Visa Waiver programme are required to complete an electronic application for clearance at least 72 hours prior to arrival. These approvals do not guarantee your entry to either country on arrival, but ensure that you are not on the Governments’ lists of undesirable visitors.

The authority to travel applications are processed on official Government websites and cost USD14 per person for the USA ESTA here and CAD7 per person for the Canadian ETA here.

Alternate websites maybe offered if using a search engine, however despite appearances, they are not official US or Canadian Government sites and additional fees may be charged to process the visa. In addition, many of these sites are phony and have been built to capture personal information, credit card details and money.

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