What is a Visa?
A visa is a permit issued by a foreign country allowing an
individual to travel to the issuing country. In the case of visas
obtained within the US, the visa is generally issued in the US by
the embassy or consulate of the country to which the applicant is
traveling. Each country that requires a visa has its own requirements,
fee and application forms.
Why Do Some Countries Require Visas?
There are many reason that countries (including the US) require
visitors to obtain visas. The most obvious is to know who is in
your county. Embassies may perform public knowledge background checks,
verify against international "No-Fly" databases and previous
entry records. Visas are also used to control entry into countries
and the paperwork on file can be used to locate a traveler for personal,
legal or other reasons.
Remember, when traveling to a foreign country you are a guest of
that country and bound by the laws governing that country. Although
US Embassies can assist US travelers oversees, the individual is
under the jurisdiction of the country which they are in.
Why Do I Have to Send My Passport?
A Visa is a stamp in a passport. In order to process your visa request,
the Embassy or consulate will require your passport to affix the
Why Do I Need a Blank Page?
US passports are generally issued with 24 visa pages and three "amendment"
pages in the back. Each of the visa pages is broken into four squares.
One square will be used for each entry into a foreign country and
filled with an ink stamp. Visas typically take an entire page (all
four squares) therefore, you must have at least one blank visa page
for the visa to be affixed to. It is illegal for a visa to cover
a previous entry stamp.
Amendment pages can not be used for visas. These pages are dedicated
for noting changes made to the passport - for example, that additional
visa pages were added or due to legal reasons a persons name was
Is My Visa Valid if My Passport is
Typically once a passport is expired or cancelled, all visas within
the passport become invalid. Visas can not be renewed. You will
need to apply for a new visa once you have secured your new passport.
There are limited exceptions to this rule, Brazil and India will
occasionally let people enter on a valid passport without a visa
if they provide an expired or cancelled passport with a visa indicating
that it is still valid. It is not recommended that this be attempted
as entry is often denied.
What's the Difference Between a Tourist
and Business Visa?
Tourist visas are typically for one or two entries for limited
periods of time to cover sightseeing or other tourist needs. Business
visas can be issued for longer durations and stays but require that
a legal US company take responsibility for the traveler and often
that a legal company within the destination country invite the traveler.
If you already poses a business visa and wish to travel to that
country, you do not need to apply for a tourist visa as a business
visa supersedes a tourist visa. This does not work the other way.
If you poses a tourist visa and wish to travel on business, you
must apply for a business visa.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Visa?
Each country has their own processing times and there are often
multiple processing times for a country depending on the visa type.
Generally visas take between a two days and two weeks to process.
For detailed visa information for your destination, please visit
our Visa Country Index.
What Is a Visa Jurisdiction
Some foreign Embassies or consulates will only accept visa applications
from residence within a specific area, normally determined by state.