There are many different types of visa that grant travelers authorization to enter foreign countries.

Visas can be divided into different categories based on the following criteria:

  • The purpose of the visa (in terms of the activities they permit)
  • How they are obtained
  • The form they take
  • How many entries they permit

For example, many countries have different types of visa for tourism, work, and residence. Others issue certain visas that cover multiple purposes.

Travelers should ensure that they have the correct type of visa for their trip.

Know the Most Common Types of Visa

When traveling to another country, it is important to have the right type of visa. Many countries have a separate visa for different purposes. The most common types of visa include the following:

Tourist visas allow holders to enter the country for leisure and tourism. They are usually short-term travel permits.

Business visas usually permit the holder to engage in business meetings and negotiations, attend conferences and fair, and draw up contracts in another country. However, they do not usually permit work paid by a company based in that state.

Work visas allow the holder to enter another country and take a job there. It is necessary to do paid work (and sometimes unpaid work) overseas.

transit visa is for stopping over in a country briefly on the way to another destination. This visa is usually needed to leave the airport between flights. However, in some countries, it is required even if the passenger stays in the airport.

student visa allows the holder to study at a university or other educational institution in another country.

Some countries issue visas that cover multiple purposes. Short-term visas that permit tourism, business, and transit are a common example.

Different Methods of Getting Visas

There are different types of visa depending on how they are obtained.

There are 3 main ways to apply for a visa.

Not all countries have all 3 options. The application options available usually depend on the traveler’s nationality.

The 3 types of visas by method of application are:

  • Online visas
  • Embassy/consular visas
  • Visas on arrival

Applying online is a modern option that allows travelers to get a visa quickly and easily, without having to make a journey to an embassy or consulate. It is a growing trend and is considered the most convenient way to apply.

If applying online is not an option, travelers may have to go to an embassy or consulate to apply in person. This is usually a longer process, so it is advisable to apply well in advance.

Some countries still have the traditional method of applying on arrival. This has the considerable downside of risking being sent home after a long journey if the application is denied. It also involves extra queuing at the border.

Different Visa Formats

Visas come in different forms depending on the country of issue and the method of obtaining them.

Examples of different visa formats include:

  • Electronic visas
  • Visa stamps
  • Visa stickers
  • Visa documents

Electronic visas (eVisas) are obtained by applying online. In many cases, it is not necessary to print a physical document. Instead, the visa is electronically linked to the traveler’s passport. When the passport is scanned, the visa is read by the country’s immigration system.

However, some destinations require passengers to print and bring a paper copy of the eVisa document.

Traditionally, visas took the form of stamps in the traveler’s passport. Many countries still use this approach. Alternatively, some countries now put stickers in the passport instead.

Some countries issue visas as a separate document, often with a photo of the traveler. This must be presented along with the passport.

Single and Multiple-Entry Visas

One way of categorizing visas is by the number of entries they permit.

Single-entry visas allow a single trip to the destination. Once the holder clears immigration, the visa cannot be used again.

Multiple-entry visas allow more than one trip. In most cases, the traveler can enter the destination country as many times as they want during the period of validity. Some multiple-entry visas have a limit on the number of entries.

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