Do I Need A Visa Abroad?

Visas, these simple stamps or stickers in your passport, or nowadays without a sticker or stamp, hold power and the possibility to open doors to the world.  Acting as the official authorization granted by a foreign government, visas are your ticket to experience new cultures, meet new people, and explore spectacular landscapes.  

On the other hand, depending on your experience, visas can give you trauma, uncertainty, and stress.  The process can be challenging in any country with long lines and extra costs. Do you understand the rules for visas in your own country?  Just by going through it will change your perspective on foreigners in your own country.

Do I need a visa?

The answer is usually yes.  Some agreements with countries close by that do have agreements that your passport or ID is sufficient for entering, such as between Canada and the USA.  

But with other countries, you will need a visa for the most part.  The visa can be a tourist visa that you receive in your passport when you arrive.  Or it can be another kind of visa that you have applied for ahead of time.  

The requirements change for entering a different country depending on where your passport is from (your home country).  Again, it depends on the agreements between countries, and the requirements for people traveling from different countries will differ.

Even with a tourist visa, for some countries, you need to apply ahead of time, while for others, you do not, and you can just arrive, and they will allow you to stay 90 days.  There is no universal rule.  

The first step is to look at the visa requirements for the country you will travel to.

Kinds of visas

There are many kinds of visas and different requirements for each one.  Each one is tailored to a specific travel purpose.  A few of the prominent ones include:

Tourist Visa

This visa is only for travel in a country. You are a tourist and will be asked where you will be staying. Depending on the country, these visas can sometimes be extended by 90 days for a fee.

Work Visa

Work visas mean a business will agree you are working in their company, so you will be granted permission to work. Working without a work visa is sometimes risky, depending on the country. Your visa lasts the duration of work and can be renewed easily. The business has to submit a lot of paperwork.

Some countries have visas specifically for ESL teachers (English as a Second Language).  Or other times, ESL teachers would fall under the work visa category.  Times are changing with the kinds of visas, but these visas have existed.

Student Visa 

If you will be a student in a country, you will enter with a student visa.  This will be arranged beforehand, and you must submit the paperwork showing that you were accepted to study.  Usually, the school facilitates the application as they deal with this frequently.

Digital Nomad Visa 

Digital Nomad Visas are on the rise in many countries.  It is a newer visa specifically for people who will work remotely.  To have this visa, you must show you receive a paycheck from any country other than the county you will be remotely working in.

This visa often lasts two years or so, but as it is now a common visa that countries are implementing, it could change in the future, also.  

If the business you are getting paid from is the same as where you are working remotely in, you would need a work visa instead.

Volunteer Visa

This visa is supported by the organization you are volunteering for. It can last a year or two and is renewed with ease. The organization has to outline your project and imply you will not receive a wage, so you do not need the work visa. Usually, the person who volunteers can receive a stipend or show that they have the money to support themselves while volunteering.

Investor Visa 

Many people use the investor visa to help work on a residence visa.  But an investor visa is just that, you invest in the country, usually in real estate.

Residence Visa or Resident Permit

The residence visa is one of the most coveted visas.  Unlike tourist or work visas which are designed for shorter stays, residence visas cater to those seeking to live in the country for a longer duration, often for work, study, retirement, or family reunification purposes.

Countries have various types of visas that serve as a pathway to residence visas when one has been in the country with a visa other than a tourist visa.  

Why would you want a residence visa?

Long Term Stay

If you don’t want to be counting the days on the calendar to make sure you don’t overstay your allowed time in the country and have plans to stay longer than 180 days, then this will take the stress away.  This is great for people who want to live and work and even retirees looking to spend their golden years in a new country.

Work Opportunities 

In many countries, a residence visa allows holders the right to work legally.  This can open up a wide range of job opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible.  Sometimes companies don’t want to go through the process of work visas for employees, and having a residence visa can be the answer.

Access to Social Services

Once you are a resident, you are entitled to social services, healthcare, and education, in the host country, like the local citizens.  This access can enhance the quality of life during your stay.

Pathway to Citizenship

If this is your route, the residence visa helps you be closer.

Freedom of Movement

Depending on the country and the specific terms of the visa, a residence visa can allow for greater freedom of movement within the country and potentially even a broader region (for instance, within the Schengen Area in Europe).

How to Apply for a Visa

Visa Agency or Immigration Lawyer

While each sounds expensive, you can usually find a range of pricing.  But, it can be worth it as these people go through the process of submitting visas every day for people, so they are up to date with the ever-changing regulations and have the experience to show you what you need to get your visa approved.  Be cautious, though, when choosing.  Recommendations are sometimes the best when choosing an agency or lawyer to work with.

Determine the Type of Visa You Want

This depends on your purpose of traveling to that country.

Check the Requirements

The requirements are listed on the government website or immigration.  Also, you can go to the Embassy of your host country in your country to double-check if necessary.

Prepare your Application

Get all the documents required that are listed on the website.  Depending on the visa, it can include copies of your passport, photos, resume, bank statement, diploma, etc.

Submit Your Application

Make sure everything is correct.

Attend Your Visa Interview

Sometimes there is an interview but other times not.  You can usually check online to see the status of your visa application and then see if it was approved or rejected.

Pay the Visa Fee

Once approved, you will need to pay.  Usually, this can be done online or at a bank, depending on where you are.

Wait for Your Visa to be Processed

You can check the status online to see when it is ready.

Receive Your Visa

Nowadays, some countries still need to put your visa in your passport, but others do not put a stamp in your passport, as it is all online.  So receiving the visa has different meanings according to the country where you are going.

Apply for Your ID Card

Once your visa is received, you usually have to get an ID card from that country.   An ID is of great importance as it shows you are not a tourist but are in the country on a different visa.  This permits you to get a driver's license, library card, and many other privileges. You can just carry around this ID card. You don’t need to have your passport always with you.

What to Do If Your Visa is Rejected

Well, this is a headache, and it depends on the country.  Sometimes you can appeal or submit more paperwork if something was lacking.  Sometimes you realize that you would rather just travel between countries and have it well documented how many days you are in each country so you don’t overstay in any country. 

Your best bet is to talk with a Visa Agency or Immigration Lawyer.  They are commonly used and give you the how-to easily.


Q1: What happens if I overstay my visa period?

A1: Penalties vary by country. Some might fine you, while others might ban future entry.

Q1: How long does it take to obtain a visa?

A1: The duration varies depending on the country and type of visa. It could range from a few days to several weeks.

Q1: Can I work in a country if I'm a tourist?

A1: No. You'll likely need a work visa to take up employment.

Remember, every journey starts with a single step, or in this case, a visa!  By understanding visas and the application processes, you will make more informed decisions to ensure that you won’t have problems visa-wise!  Happy travels!