Many countries have visa policies and agreements that allow their citizens to travel freely between them without the need for a visa. For example, Canadians and Americans do not need visas in order to travel to each other’s countries, only valid travel documents. However, Canadians do need visas to travel to Bhutan, for example, since no visa agreement exists between the two nations.
A work permit, or Employment Authorization Document, is proof that a person has permission to work in the U.S. People with work visas are eligible for work permits and must obtain one before starting work in the U.S. If you have another type of temporary visa, such as an F-1 visa, you may also be eligible for a work permit. Learn more about work permits.
Pilgrimage visa: this type of visa is mainly issued to those intending to visit religious destinations, as for example in Saudi Arabia or Iran, and to take part in particular religious ceremonies. Such visas can usually be obtained relatively quickly and at low cost; those using them are usually permitted to travel only as a group, however. The best example is Hajj visas for Saudi Arabia.
Entering a country without a valid visa or visa exemption may result in detention and removal (deportation or exclusion) from the country. Undertaking activities that are not authorised by the status of entry (for example, working while possessing a non-worker tourist status) can result in the individual being deemed liable for deportation—commonly referred to as an illegal alien. Such violation is not a violation of a visa, despite the common misuse of the phrase, but a violation of status; hence the term "out of status".
Marriage visa, granted for a limited period before intended marriage or civil partnership based on a proven relationship with a citizen of the destination country. For example, a German woman wishing to marry an American man would obtain a Fiancée Visa (also known as a K-1 visa) to allow her to enter the United States. A K1 Fiancée Visa is valid for four months from the date of its approval.
Tourist visas, called visitor visas in the United States, are available for travelers from many countries who are coming for recreational or medical purposes. These visas are typically good for six months. Transit visas are available to foreigners who are simply passing through the United States or making a brief stop at a port or airport. Transit visa applicants must provide evidence that they will be in continuous transit to a foreign destination while in the United States. As of November 2012, both visitor visas and transit visas cost $160 per person, although additional fees may apply. Citizens of nearly 40 countries are allowed to travel in the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.
If you're traveling internationally, you might need a visa, which is an endorsement on your passport indicating that you may enter a country. Americans don't need visas to enter 116 countries – including 26 in Europe – for short-term tourism, business or layovers on the way to a non-treaty country. However, some popular destinations such as China and Brazil do require U.S. citizens to obtain visas.
H-3 Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visas are nonimmigrant visas that allow you to travel to the U.S. for training. The main goal of this visa is to receive training in the U.S. that you will later use in your home country. To qualify, the training cannot be available in your home country or related to graduate medical studies. During the application process, an immigration officer will ask you to show that you intend to return to your home country after the program is completed.
H-1B temporary workers in specialty occupations and distinguished fashion models: Depends on the validity period of the labor condition application and the proposed period of employment, plus a period of up to ten days before the validity period of the H-1B petition begins and ten days after it ends. Most H-1B workers are initially granted up to a three-year stay. Extensions are allowed up to a maximum total stay of six years (with exceptions, notably for persons who are seeking permanent residence through the job). After getting your H-1B, any time you spend outside the U.S. is added on to and extends your three years.
If you find that you do need a visa to enter your destination country, you’ll want to figure out what type of visa you must apply for. Applications must be submitted in advance, and they can be submitted online, in person, or by mail. Your reason for visiting the foreign country or territory in question will determine the maximum length of your stay, which can range from a few days to one year or longer. Some visas allow you to enter the country multiple times over the course of a few years. Once you determine what type of visa you’re looking to apply for, you’ll be able to research that specific visa for your destination country and learn more about their regulations.
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Every country processes visa applications at a different rate. Make sure to check the government website of the country you intend to visit to find out how fast they process visa applications. For example, visa applications from Russia to visit Canada take approximately 8 days to process, while Canadians looking to travel to India are advised to submit visa applications at least 15 days in advance.
The CARICOM Visa was introduced in late 2006 and allowed visitors to travel between 10 CARICOM member states (Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago). These ten member countries had agreed to form a "Single Domestic Space" in which travellers would only have their passport stamped and have to submit completed, standardised entry and departure forms at the first port and country of entry. The CARICOM Visa was applicable to the nationals of all countries except CARICOM member states (other than Haiti) and associate member states, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the overseas countries, territories or departments of these countries. The CARICOM Visa could be obtained from the Embassies/Consulates of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago and in countries that have no CARICOM representatives, the applications forms could be obtained from the embassies and consulates of the United Kingdom. The common visa was only intended for the duration of the 2007 Cricket World Cup and was discontinued on May 15, 2007. Discussions are ongoing into instituting a revised CARICOM visa on a permanent basis in the future.
When you need a visa depends on where you’d like to go. If your home country has a visa agreement with the country to which you intend to travel, then you likely will not need to apply for a visa beforehand. However, if your home country does not have a visa agreement with your intended destination, then you must apply for a visa before travelling.
Traditional visas can either be stamped or glued into your passport. If your visa is glued into your passport, it is usually a small document that includes your name, passport number, place of birth, reason for travel and expiration date. Stamped visas typically have less information on them. They usually only have the destination and date from which the visa is valid and official instructions stating how many days the visa is valid for.
A social security card is used in the U.S. as way to prove your identity. Each social security card has a 9-digit social security number (SSN). This number is unique to each person and used for the purpose of tracking an individual in the U.S. Social Security Administration. All people who work in the U.S. must have a SSN. SSNs are mostly used for tax purposes.
The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, you have a responsibility to prove you are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) requires that its citizens obtain an exit visa stating the traveller's destination country and time to be spent abroad before leaving the country. Additionally, North Korean authorities also require North Korean citizens obtain a re-entry visa from a North Korean embassy or North Korean mission abroad before being allowed back into North Korea.
Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all have an exit visa requirement for alien foreign workers. This is part of their kafala work visa sponsorship system. Consequently, at the end of a foreign worker's employment period, the worker must secure clearance from their employer stating that the worker has satisfactorily fulfilled the terms of their employment contract or that the worker's services are no longer needed. The exit visa can also be withheld if there are pending court charges that need to be settled or penalties that have to be meted out. In September 2018, Qatar lifted the exit visa requirement for most workers.
Citizens of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations do not require tourist visas to visit another member state, with the exception of Myanmar. Until 2009, Burmese citizens were required to have visas to enter all other ASEAN countries. Following the implementation of visa exemption agreements with the other ASEAN countries, in 2016 Burmese citizens are only required to have visas to enter Malaysia and Singapore. Myanmar and Singapore had agreed on a visa exemption scheme set to be implemented on 1 December 2016. ASEAN citizens are entitled to use the Burmese visa on arrival facility.