What Is a Visa?

A visa is an official document that allows the bearer to legally enter a foreign country. The visa is usually stamped or glued into the bearer’s passport. There are several different types of visas, each of which afford the bearer different rights in the host country.

What Is a Travel/Tourist Visa?

Travel visas allow the bearer to enter a foreign country for touristic and leisure purposes only and stay for a predetermined amount of time. These visas do not entitle the holder to work or engage in any business activities in the host country.

What Is a Work Visa?

Work visas are required for individuals who wish to take on employment or engage in business activities in the host country. There are several types of work visas that depend on the nature of the work and length of stay. For example, working holiday visas allow individuals to temporarily take on employment while travelling through the country.

What Is a Student Visa?

A student visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows the bearer to enrol at a postsecondary educational institution in the host country. High school foreign exchange students must typically obtain a visa for temporary residence.

What Is a Working Holiday Visa?

Working holiday visas allow the bearer to undertake temporary employment in a country through which they are travelling. Not every country offers a working holiday program. Australia has the most popular such program.

 

Immigrant Vs. Nonimmigrant Visas

Travel visas can be separated into two categories: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas allow the bearer to reside permanently in the host country, whereas nonimmigrant visas allow the bearer entry into the host country on a temporary basis.

Why Do I Need a Visa to Travel?

Visas are necessary if you’d like to travel to a country that does not have a visa policy in place with your home country.

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.

Check on Passport Index to see if you need a visa to travel to your next destination.

 

What Is a Visa Policy?

A country’s visa policy is a rule that states who may or may not enter the country. The policy may allow passport holders of one country to enter visa-free but not the passport holders of another country. Most visa policies are bilateral, meaning that two countries will allow visa-free travel to each other’s citizens, but this is not always the case. For example, Canadian passport holders may travel to Grenada visa-free, but Grenadians must apply for a visa in order to travel to Canada.

There are no hard and fast rules for countries when determining visa policies. However, some typical considerations include diplomatic relations with the other country, the history, if any, of illegal immigration from the country, cost and tourism factors, and more.

 

When Do I Need a Visa?

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.