AskDefine | Define visas

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of visa


Extensive Definition

  • most CIS member states and African countries
  • Brazil and Canada/CIS member states
  • Armenia and most non-CIS member states
A fee may be charged for issuing a visa; these are typically also reciprocal, so if country A charges country B's citizens 50 USD for a visa, country B will often also charge the same amount for country A's visitors. The fee charged may also be at the discretion of each embassy. A similar reciprocity often applies to the duration of the visa (the period in which one is permitted to request entry of the country) and the amount of entries one can attempt with the visa. Expedited processing of the visa application for some countries will generally incur additional charges.
This reciprocal fee has gained prominence in recent years with the decision of the United States to charge nationals of various countries a $131 visa processing fee (non-refundable, even if a visa is not issued). A number of countries, including Brazil, China, Chile, Russia, and Turkey have reciprocated. Brazil requires an advance visa before entry into the country, and that a US citizen be fingerprinted and photographed on arrival --matching U.S. requirements for Brazilians and other foreigners.
The issuing authority, usually a branch of the country's foreign ministry or department (e.g. U.S. State Department), and typically consular affairs officers, may request appropriate documentation from the applicant. This may include proof that the applicant is able to support himself in the host country (lodging, food), proof that the person hosting the applicant in his or her home really exists and has sufficient room for hosting the applicant, proof that the applicant has obtained health and evacuation insurance, etc. Some countries ask for proof of health status, especially for long-term visas; some countries deny such visas to persons with certain illnesses, such as AIDS. The exact conditions depend on the country and category of visa. Notable examples of countries requiring HIV tests of long-term residents are Russia and Uzbekistan. However, in Uzbekistan, the HIV test requirement is sometimes not strictly enforced.
  • immigrant visa, granted for those intending to immigrate to the issuing country. They usually are issued for a single journey as the holder will, depending on the country, later be issued a permanent resident identification card which will allow the traveler to enter to the issuing country an unlimited number of times. (for example, the United States Permanent Resident Card)...
  • pensioner visa (also known as retiree visa or retirement visa), issued by a limited number of countries (Australia, Argentina, Thailand, Panama, etc.), to those who can demonstrate a foreign source of income and who do not intend to work in the issuing country. Age limits apply in some cases.
  • Special Category Visa is a type of Australian visa granted to most New Zealand citizens on arrival in Australia. New Zealand Citizens may then permanently reside in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.

Entry and duration period

Many countries have a mechanism to allow the holder of a visa to apply to stay longer in that country. For example, in Denmark a visa holder can apply to the Danish Immigration Service for a Residence Permit after they have arrived in the Country. In the United Kingdom applications can be made to the UK Border Agency. In certain circumstances, it is not possible for the holder of the visa to do this, either because the country does not have a mechanism to prolong visas or, most likely, because the holder of the visa is using a short stay visa to live in a country. In such cases, the holder often engages in what is known as a visa run; leaving the country for a short period in order to apply for a new visa prior to their return or so that they can be given a fresh permission to stay when they re-enter.
Also, bear in mind that Immigration officers can deny re-entry under these circumstances, especially if done more than once.

Visa refusal

A visa may be denied for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) if the applicant:
  • has committed fraud or misrepresentation in his or her application
  • cannot prove to have strong ties to their current country of residence
  • intends to permanently reside or work in the country she/he will visit
  • does not have a legitimate reason for the journey
  • has no visible means of sustenance
  • does not have lodging in the destination country
  • has not arranged his or her transportation
  • does not have a health/travel insurance valid for the destination and the duration of stay
  • has a criminal record or has criminal charges pending
  • does not have a good moral character
  • is applying on short notice
  • is considered to be a security risk
  • had their previous visa application(s) rejected
  • is a citizen of a country with whom the host country has poor or non-existent relations
  • has a communicable disease, such as tuberculosis
  • has previous immigration violations
  • has a passport that expires too soon

Visa exemption schemes

Possession of a valid visa is a condition for entry into many countries, however various exemption schemes do exist. In some cases visa-free entry may be granted to holders of diplomatic passports even as visas are required by normal passport holders (see: Passport).
Some countries have reciprocal agreements such that a visa is not needed under certain conditions, e.g. when the visit is for tourism and for a relatively short period. One example of this is the Visa Waiver Program of the United States. Such reciprocal agreements may stem from common membership in international organizations or a shared heritage:
  • All citizens of ECOWAS member states, excluding those defined by law as undesirable aliens, may enter and stay without a visa in any member state for a maximum period of 90 days. The only requirement is a valid travel document and international vaccination certificates.
  • Nationals of the East African Community member states do not need visas for entry into any of the member states.
  • Some countries in the Commonwealth do not require tourist visas of citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
  • Some countries in the Association of South East Asia Nations do not require tourist visas of citizens of some Association of South East Asia Nations countries.(Except Myanmar, where its citizens are required visa to about 7 out of 10 countries.)
  • Armenia and Uzbekistan allow citizens of CIS member states, except Turkmenistan (and Tajikistan to enter Uzbekistan), to enter visa-free as tourists.
Other countries may unilaterally grant visa-free entry to nationals of certain countries in order to facilitate tourism.
Visa-free travel between countries also occurs in all cases where passports are not needed for such travel. (For examples of passport-free travel, see International travel without passports.)
The Henley Visa Restrictions Index is a global ranking of countries according to travel freedom their citizens enjoy.

Common visas

Normally visas are valid for entry only into the country which issued the visa. Countries that are members of regional organizations or party to regional agreements may however issue visas valid for entry into some or all of the member states of the organization or agreement:
  • the Schengen Visa may be the best-known example of a common visa. This visa has it origins in the 1985 Schengen Agreement among European states which allows for a common policy on the temporary entry of persons (including visas). The visa allows a tourist or visitor access to the area covered by the agreement (known as the “Schengen area” or “Schengenland”). Citizens of non-EU, non-EEA countries who wish to visit Europe as tourists, and who require a visa to enter the Schengen area, are simply required to get only the common Schengen Visa from the Embassy/Consulate of any of the Schengen countries. After this, they may visit any or all of the Schengen countries as tourists or for business without hindrance. They are not required to get separate visas for all the Schengen countries they wish to visit.
  • the Central American Single Visa (Visa Única Centroamericana) was implemented by the CA-4 agreement between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It is required for citizens of all other countries, eliminating the need for separate entry visas for each of the countries. Persons entering the region on Type "B" visas can enter the area through any Port of Entry. Persons entering on Type "C" visas (issued through prior consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) must enter through a Port of Entry in the country that issued the visa. Once a person has been admitted, they may travel onto any of the other countries and are allowed to stay through the date authorized at the original Port of Entry.
  • An East African Single Tourist Visa is under consideration by the relevant sectoral authorities under the East African Community (EAC) integration program. If approved the visa will be valid for all three partner states in the EAC (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). Under the proposal for the visa, any new East African single visa can be issued by any partner state's embassy. The visa proposal followed an appeal by the tourist boards of the partner states for a common visa to accelerate promotion of the region as a single tourist destination and the EAC Secretariat wants it approved before November's World Travel Fair (or World Travel Market) in London. When approved by the East African council of ministers, tourists could apply for one country's entry visa which would then be applicable in all regional member states as a single entry requirement initiative.
  • The SADC UNIVISA (or Univisa) has been in development since SADC members signed a Protocol on the Development of Tourism in 1998. The Protocol outlined the Univisa as an objective so as to enable the international and regional entry and travel of visitors to occur as smoothly as possible. It was expected to become operational by the end of 2002. Its introduction was delayed and a new implementation date, the end of 2006, was announced. However, the SADC now aims to have the univisa system in place by 2008, before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The univisa was originally intended to only be available, initially, to visitors from selected “source markets” such as Australia, the Benelux countries, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA. It is now expected that when the Univisa is implemented, that it will apply to non SADC international (long-haul) tourists travelling to and within the region and that it will encourage multi - destination travel within the region. It is also anticipated that the univisa will unlock the tourism potential of trans frontier parks by lowering the boundaries between neighboring countries in the parks. The visa is expected to be valid for all the countries with trans frontier parks (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) and some other SADC countries (Angola and Swaziland).

Previous common visa schemes

These schemes no longer operate.
  • 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 & Tobago). These 10 member countries had agreed to form a "Single Domestic Space" in which travelers would only have their passport stamped and have to submit completed, standardized 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 which have no CARICOM representatives, the applications forms could be obtained from the Embassies/Consulates of the United Kingdom. The common visa was only intended for the duration of the Cricket World Cup and was discontinued on May 15, 2007. However, discussions are ongoing into instituting a revised CARICOM visa on a permanent basis in the future.


External links

visas in Arabic: تأشيرة
visas in Danish: Visum
visas in German: Visum
visas in Estonian: Viisa
visas in Spanish: Visa
visas in Esperanto: Vizo
visas in Persian: روادید
visas in French: Visa (document)
visas in Croatian: Vizni sustav
visas in Korean: 사증
visas in Indonesian: Visa
visas in Hebrew: אשרה (ויזה)
visas in Georgian: ვიზა (დოკუმენტი)
visas in Luxembourgish: Visa (Dokument)
visas in Malayalam: വിസ
visas in Malay (macrolanguage): Visa
visas in Dutch: Visum
visas in Japanese: 査証
visas in Norwegian: Visum
visas in Polish: Wiza
visas in Portuguese: Visto
visas in Romanian: Viză
visas in Russian: Виза
visas in Simple English: Visa
visas in Finnish: Viisumi
visas in Swedish: Visum
visas in Turkish: Vize
visas in Chinese: 签证
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