How to Get a Travel Visa | Understanding the Process & Options + 10 Tips to Consider

Hey, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In
this video we’re going to review the process of applying for a travel visa in
case your next trip takes you abroad. (light chiming music) Applying for a travel visa is one of
those things that can seem pretty confusing, especially since it seems like
every country has a different requirement. For a lot of travelers here
in the US, we’re used to traveling to most of Europe without having to apply
for a travel visa. But did you know that if you plan to travel to a country like
Australia, you would need a visa? I didn’t until I looked up the rules, so it’s
important thing to check before any trip. So in this video, I want to review the
process of getting a visa and also share some tips that I’ve learned along the
way. If you’re not familiar with visas, let’s review what they are. Travel visas
are documents that allow you to enter a specific country for a certain period of
time in order to study, work, or just tour the country. It’s a way for the
government to verify who is visiting the country and for what purpose. Think of it
as a way for you to ask for permission to enter a country and have that
decision documented so that you can show proof when entering. So suppose you’re
planning an international trip, what’s your first step? If you’re in the US,
you may want to start with the US State Department website and search for your
destination. For example, if we look up Vietnam, you’ll see that US citizens need
a visa to enter. The next step would be to look at your destination country’s
embassy or consulate website. If we look at the Vietnamese embassy website in the
US, you’ll see that they outline all the different ways that you can apply for
visa. In each of these cases, you would need to get your passport to the embassy
either in person or through the mail after filling out the visa application
forms online. Once your visa application is processed, the consulate or embassy
will send you a visa that’s attached to your passport. The process can take
anywhere from a week to two months to complete. The cost can also range from
$50 to $200, with some even offering expedited
services for a fee. To make things even more confusing, Vietnam also offers
certain travelers and e-visa or a “visa on arrival” option, though it’s not listed as
options on the main embassy page. Both an e-visa and a “visa on arrival” allow you
to apply online before your trip and without having to send in your passport.
This is usually the easiest and fastest way to go. Determining which one to get
can be confusing. It usually depends on your port of entry and whether you plan
to enter the country multiple times or just one single time. Though make sure
you do a full Google search on the visa options for your destination country as
their official web sites are often not up to date. That’s basically the process,
though as always, I do want to share some tips to keep in mind.
Number 1: Use expedited shipping and tracking when sending your passport. If
you do have to send in your passport to the embassy or consulate, make sure you
use Priority or Express mail with tracking options. Even if you’re not
worried about the time frame to get your visa or passport back, it’s still much
safer to send it via one of the premium shipping options at the post office.
Number 2: Take screenshots of your confirmation pages. If you’re filling out
any documents online, I would recommend taking screenshots of the pages as you go.
I’ve ran into a couple of situations where the submit button seemed to crash
the page, so it’s good having a record of what you’ve completed. Also, I’ve had
situations where I haven’t received the confirmation from the embassy, so it’s
just good practice to capture the screenshots and any reference
information. Number 3: Avoid getting your visa revoked. Keep in mind that even
though you may be granted access to the country through your visa, it can easily
be revoked especially if you break any laws while traveling in the country. Be
especially cautious of the local laws. For example, I’ve heard of people getting
in trouble in Thailand because they disrespected the Royal family by playing
around or defacing notes. Even stepping on money in Thailand
is considered an offense, so be careful and always look up the local laws and
customs ahead of time. Number 4: Show proof of onward travel. Even if you get a
visa, you’ll often have to show proof that you’ll be leaving the country. If
you need more information on how you can show proof of onward travel, check out
our video on the topic. Number 5: Check the passport requirements. It’s easy to
get focused on the visa and forget that there may be special passport
requirements. It’s common for countries to require one to two pages free in your
passport, and also that your passport isn’t expiring within three to six
months of your trip. In addition, it’s good practice to carry spare passport
photos with you when traveling and also just having them available since you
will need them when applying for a visa. For more information on doing your own
passport photos, check out our video on it.
Number 6: Be cautious of your entry and departure dates. When you apply for a
visa, you’ll need to set the start date of the visa. If you happen to be
backpacking or traveling with an open itinerary, you may want to be especially
careful with the entry and departure dates. I would suggest airing on the side
of caution and putting the earliest date that you may be entering the country. The
last thing you want is to arrive a day or two before your visa is valid and be
denied entry into the country. Number 7: Be cautious of your port of entry.
This is especially the case if entering a country via a land border. Most e-visas require that you enter via an airport, so make sure you have the
correct visa for your travel plans. For example, when I travel to Vietnam, I had
to get the traditional visa through the mail instead of an e-visa since I was
planning to cross into the country from Cambodia. And along the same note, number
8: Watch out for fake visa officials at border crossings. A lot of times
you’ll see scammers waiting along the border to help expedite your visa for a
fee. Be very careful of this situation. Not only will they ask to take your
passport, but they can sometimes issue you a fake
visa which could get you in a lot of trouble. Even if the line is long, just go
with the official process to be safe. Number 9:
Be prepared to pay with cash. If you’re paying for a “visa on arrival”, you’ll
likely have to pay with cash. Fiona experienced this when she traveled to
Turkey, though she said that there was an ATM at the airport so she didn’t have to
have cash in advance. Though it doesn’t hurt to carry a debit card that waives
ATM fees when traveling. For more information, check out our video on the
Charles Schwab debit card and High-Yield Checking account, which allows you to get
cash from any ATM while reimbursing you for any fees. And finally, number 10: Be
careful of visa agencies. There is a whole industry of visa agencies that
will process and expedite your visa for a fee. Not all of these businesses are a
scam and some can actually help you get a visa pretty quickly, especially when
dealing with inefficient governments. The key is to do your research before
using them though. A quick Google search can often reveal where the other
travelers have had a positive experience with the agency. Have you had to apply
for a visa when traveling? Did you run into any issues or learn things that you
wish you had known before? If so, please share them below in the comment section.
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on giveaways. Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.

8 thoughts on “How to Get a Travel Visa | Understanding the Process & Options + 10 Tips to Consider

  1. Ernest

    You continue to provide solid content and travel advice for novice travelers. I've linked your channel through my travel website, Keep up the good work!

  2. One site I use to double-check visa requirements is since you just choose your country of nationality, and the country where you want to travel to, from dropdown menus. Works like a charm.

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