A visa is a declaration to your country of destination the purpose, duration of your visit & a failsafe should anything unfortunate happen. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Not quite, because requirements, fees and processing times may vary depending on the country and type of visa you need. The most common types include business, work, student and tourist visas. Some countries will issue a visa upon your arrival, but it is not a common procedure. If you have to apply for one beforehand, here’s a few key points to keep in mind;

1) It’s important to have at least 5 blank pages in your passport. Your visa won’t need all of them at once but many of the consulates/embassies will require at least two blank pages and may use it as an excuse resulting into difficulty in getting your visa in a timely manner.

2) Be sure your passport isn’t going to expire for a while. Ideally the expiration date has to be greater than six months from the date of entry for the visa you are applying for. If it doesn’t meet this requirement then you may want to consider renewing your passport.

3) Obtain & start filling your visa application. The earlier the better; visa applications can be confusing so if you’re unsure or if something is unclear on the application don’t guess! Just ask to avoid making mistakes as it could become time & money consuming for you fix the errors.

4) Passport photographs. Some embassies may have specifics on the colour background and size of the picture so make sure to consider them when taking new ones. Make sure they are as up-to-date as possible & have your extras with you. Submit 2 passport photographs along with your application for good measure.

5) Include your travel itinerary. Most applications require you include your travel plans as proof of entrance and exit dates. This would be the itinerary you get with your tickets or from the airline/travel agent.

6) Have your own copies of all the documents you submit (not your passport although it’s a good idea to photocopy the first page for personal records). Be sure you send your passport with your visa application and other appropriate paperwork.

7) For good measure, include a copy of your driver’s license. A lot of times a country may require this but neglect to mention it or they may decide they want more identification information. This should be a considered as a preventative measure.

8) Don’t forget the fee. Sounds obvious and funny but it happens.

9) If you cannot visit the foreign government office in person and must mail your passport, use secure mail services and enclose a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.

Good luck!

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