The majority of the nations of the world allow US citizens to enter just with a valid US passport, but for some countries a travel visa is required. A travel visa is an approval document that indicates that the traveler has met the preliminary qualifications to be allowed entry to a country. Each country has their own requirements for the issuance of travel visas, and these typically vary according to the reason for the traveler’s visit to the country. Some common forms of visa categories are:
- Tourist visas – for leisure travel and sightseeing
- Business visas – for business meetings, site visits, and negotiations
- Student visas – for applicants enrolled in a school in the destination country
- Employment visas – for applicants who have been offered a job contract in the destination country
Where are Visas Issued?
When you are planning an international trip, it’s very important to check well ahead of time to find out if a visa is required, and if so, where and how that visa will be issued. Some countries have only one way to be issued a visa, while others have multiple options for acquiring visas. If you are not sure how to get a visa, you can contact a professional visa expediting service to find the visa requirements for your destination. Depending on the country you will visit, your visa may be issued in one of the following ways:
Visa on Arrival
Countries that offer Visa on Arrival to US citizens have made the visa process part of the immigration entry process you will go through when you land at the airport. You may be required to pay a fee (cash, with exact change in US dollars, is preferred), fill out an application, supply photographs, and/or have your fingerprints taken. Some countries provide Visa on Arrival only for tourists, and require business travelers to get visas in advance. Popular destinations that offer visas on arrival to US citizens include:
- Thailand (tourist travelers only)
- United Arab Emirates
Electronic visas, often called eVisas or ETAs (electronic travel authority), are applied for online and typically sent to the traveler as an email to print out and carry along with their US passport. You will be required to pay your visa fee online, and you may also need to upload documents such as your passport scan or a photograph. Visa expediting services can assist with electronic visas. Some countries that offer eVisas or ETAs include:
- Sri Lanka (tourist only)
Consular Visas (Stamped or Sticker Visas)
These visas are issued at an Embassy or Consulate, and are placed into your passport as a stamp or sticker. For all countries that require US citizens to have visas stamped into their passport, you must apply at an Embassy or Consulate of that country in the USA. (If you are a legal, long-term resident of another country, you can apply at the Embassy in that country.) Some countries that have multiple consulates in the United States enforce “consular jurisdiction,” which means you must apply at the consulate that oversees your state of residence. Countries that require US citizens to get consular visas in advance of travel include:
Common Visa Requirements
The specific visa requirements for each country and each purpose of journey will vary, so it is very important to check with a visa expediting service or the Embassy or Consulate before you apply. However, there are some common visa requirements that will be needed for almost all visas issued at an Embassy or Consulate, including:
- Your Passport – Must be valid for at least six months and bear your original signature. You will need to have at least one or two blank pages marked “Visas” for your visa stamp or sticker.
- Visa Application – This will require your original signature in ink.
- Passport-style photograph(s)
- Visa Fee – Paid to the Embassy or Consulate
Other items that are frequently required include:
- International flight itinerary
- Hotel reservations
- A letter of introduction from your company (for business travelers only)
What Do Visa Expediting Services Do?
If you need to get a consular visa, the services of a visa expediting company are invaluable. They will help you from the very beginning, making sure that you know whether or not a visa is required for your trip and providing all the most up-to-date visa instructions and applications. They will check your application packet carefully before hand-carrying it to the Embassy or Consulate for processing. While it is in process, they will remain in contact with the Embassy/Consulate to make sure processing proceeds smoothly and quickly, and they will pick up your completed visa as soon as it is ready. They will check your visa thoroughly for errors before sending it back to you using a secure, trackable delivery service.
Recommended Visa Expediting Services
RushMyTravelVisa is one of the nation’s leading visa services, offering an easy to use online portal to help you get started on your visa service fast and track your visa every step of the way. Their nationwide team of visa experts provide a full range of visa services for all destinations for US citizens and residents. They have earned praise from clients and the media for their speed, accuracy, and customer service.
G3 Global Services, LLC
With over 20 years of experience in the industry and a nationwide network of offices, G3 works with individuals, tour groups, corporations, and the aviation industry to provide expedited visa services with white-glove customer service.