In some cases, a tourist visa is required to enter foreign countries. However, visa requirements vary and are regulated by the government of each specific country. Many foreign countries accept U.S. passports, so visa requirements for U.S. citizens are sometimes minimal or non-existent. However, countries requiring a visitor visa will need travelers to apply for a visa prior to arriving. Certain countries let travelers complete online visa applications for electronic visa authorization. Other countries issue travelers a visitor visa upon their arrival to the country and after their payment of a reciprocity fee. To make the visa application process as easy as possible, our site contains all the visa information a traveler needs to prepare for an international trip. Learn about the visa application requirements for visa travel and discover the different types of documents that must be submitted with an application. In short, learn how to get a visa in the most efficient way possible.
The details provided below also teach travelers about visa travel eligibility requirements and the different visa application processes that countries may employ. Note that US tourist visas will be easier to obtain in certain countries rather than others. In any case, our visa services will help you prepare for everything from the visa travel interview to the visa application appeal process. For all the important details on getting tourist visas, review the sections below:
- What is a visa and what does a visitor visa do?
- When will a tourist visa be required?
- Visa requirements for US citizens who wish to travel
- Steps to apply for a visa for travel
- How to handle a tourist visa application denial
What is a visa and what does a visitor visa do?
A tourist visa is issued to travelers as a form of permission to visit a foreign country for tourism purposes. A visitor visa allows travelers an opportunity to visit a foreign country for a limited period of time. However, tourist visas do not permit tourists the opportunity to study abroad or earn a living abroad. Work or student visas must be issued to travelers who are visiting a foreign country for reasons other than tourism or leisure.
Note: Typically, visa travel documents are required to take an international vacation, attend a destination wedding, attend an international honeymoon or visit family members who live abroad.
When will a tourist visa be required?
Visitor visa rules and regulations vary based on each foreign country. A variety of visa travel policies exist for countries around the world. Additionally, visa requirements vary based on the country where the traveler lives. In some cases, a transit visa is required for travelers who pass through a country on a connecting flight. As such, travelers are encouraged to verify visitor visa requirements for layover locations in advance. Verifying visa travel policies - for both layover and vacation destinations - saves travelers unnecessary frustration down the road.
Visa Requirements for US Citizens Who Wish to Travel
Visa requirements for US citizens are low since many foreign countries accept a U.S. passport in place of a US tourist visa. A U.S. passport is accepted in most South American countries and in all countries belonging to the European Union. A visitor visa is not required to visit countries such as these. However, visa application procedures vary for the countries that do require a travel visa. Depending on the specific country, tourist visas may be required before the traveler's departure, in electronic form, or upon arriving to the foreign country. Visa application procedures depend on each specific country's US tourist visa policies for U.S. citizens with passports.
Visa information requirements can be found online through the U.S. Department of State's U.S. Passport and International Travel board. Travelers can use this information to determine the visitor visa requirements for U.S. citizens. Typically, US tourist visas are required of U.S. passport holders before departing for the following countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Russia and China. Prior visa travel authorization is also required in several Middle Eastern and African countries.
To obtain a China visa or Russian visa authorization, travelers must apply for visa approval months prior to their departure dates. Travelers who apply for visa approval must also check with the country's consulate or embassy to verify the full visa requirements for entering and exiting the country. The U.S. requires Brazilian citizens to obtain US tourist visas before entering the U.S., for instance. As such, the same is true for U.S. citizens entering Brazil: Before visiting Brazil, a visitor visa is required of U.S. citizens. This is because Brazil has a full reciprocity visitor visa policy, which makes visa requirements for citizens of a certain country the same as that country's visa requirements for Brazilian nationals.
Australia visa authorization is easier for travelers to obtain. In this case, U.S. passport holders may apply for a visitor visa online after paying a service fee. The online visa travel authorization system is called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). However, each country's visa requirements are constantly evolving, so it is wise to check for updated visa requirements prior to departure. Visa requirements can be obtained through the U.S. Department of State or the destination country's consulate or embassy.
Visitor visas generally grant tourists permission to visit a foreign country for a limited time. However, countries may extend a temporary visa travel waiver for larger international events. Visa travel authorizations are typically good for three to six months, but timeframes vary by country, and a visitor visa holder can usually petition to extend his or her stay. However, overstaying a tourist visa without permission is a violation, and penalties may result. Penalties for tourist visa violations include fines, deportation, prosecution and the revocation of future visitor visa rights. However, some visitor visas are valid for up to 10 years, allowing for multiple entries and reentries into a country. For example, travelers with 10-year tourist visas may visit a country multiple times throughout a 10-year period, but they may only remain in the country for 90 days or less during each visit (depending on the destination). Alternatively, countries may issue a single-entry visa travel document that is only good for one trip. With a single-entry visitor visa, the document is cancelled once the traveler exits the country.
Steps to Apply for a Visa for Travel
It is crucial to learn about visa requirements as you prepare for an international trip to a destination that requires visa documentation. Visitor visa requirements may vary for citizens of different nations, so it is important to look up specific tourist visa information before departing. An applicant can only begin the visa application process after obtaining this important information.
As part of the visa application process, visa applicants must get a passport or ensure that their current passport is valid. To apply for a visa, many countries require that visa travel applicants have a U.S. passport with at least six months' validity, even if the trip is scheduled to be for a shorter amount of time. Visa travel applicants must have enough blank pages in their passports to receive necessary entry and exit tourist visa stamps.
The complexity of visa application procedures varies by country. Certain countries require travelers to obtain a visitor visa upon arrival to the country. Countries requiring travelers to obtain a US tourist visa prior to their departure, on the other hand, typically require more documentation and traveler information prior to providing visa travel authorization in person or by mail. Other countries require travelers to obtain a tourist visa (or a nonimmigrant visa) by applying online. The online visa application process takes place through the Electronic Travel Authority and requires that travelers pay processing fees.
For non-electronic visitor visa applications, the following documents are typically required:
- A completed visa application form
- A U.S. passport that has at least six months' validity
- A U.S. passport that contains enough pages for entry and exit visitor visa stamps.
- Proof of intent that the visitor visa applicant will exit the country before the visitor visa expires (such as a return ticket home)
- A passport-sized current photo
- Proof of employment showing that the tourist visa applicant can afford trip costs (Alternately, the tourist visa applicant may provide an affidavit showing financial support from an employer, organization or relative.)
- US tourist visa documentation showing that the purpose of the trip is for leisure or tourism
In some cases, the visa application process may require the applicant to deliver any or all of these items. Each country's visa application procedures vary, but certain countries may allow travelers to mail all required documents to their visa information processing centers. Other countries may have different procedures for how to get a visa. Some countries may require travelers to present supporting documents in person at a visitor visa interview, while other countries may require that travelers send supporting documents through a visa service that petitions for visas on behalf of others.
How to Handle a Tourist Visa Application Denial
US tourist visa disqualification occurs for several different reasons. The different reasons for visa application denial include the following:
- A visa application form contains fraudulent or incomplete information.
- The traveler has previously overstayed a visitor visa authorization.
- The tourist visa applicant has pending criminal charges or a criminal record.
- The traveler is considered a national security threat.
- The tourist visa applicant failed to demonstrate intent to return to his or her home country (such as a return ticket).
- The traveler does not possess sufficient financial means to pay for the trip.
- The visitor visa applicant has presented a U.S. passport with less than the required six months' validity.
- The traveler has a communicable illness or disease that may be a threat to the public.
- The visa travel applicant is a citizen of a country that has hostile relations with his or her destination country.
Tourist visa denials can be handled in several different ways. First, the applicant must determine the reason for the tourist visa disqualification. In some cases, the applicant will need to determine the reason for the ineligibility on his or her own. In other cases, the applicant may receive visa information regarding the disqualification via a letter.
If the US tourist visa denial is due to lack of information on visa application forms, the applicant may only need to submit the missing details. However, if the visa application denial is the result of having a criminal record or previous visa travel violations, the applicant may need to hire an attorney to have the case appealed. In some cases, visa application rejections may not be appealed.
After the denial of a tourist visa, travelers can reapply at any time. However, it is recommended that the applicant spends some time strengthening his or her visa application, or waiting until his or her circumstances have changed. International travelers can increase their chances of tourist visa approval by enrolling in a degree program, maintaining stable employment or buying property. These acts prove that the US tourist visa applicant has positive ties to his or her home country, which makes the applicant a low-risk candidate for illegal immigration.
Additionally, visa application fees are non-refundable. To avoid paying additional visa application fees, it is recommended that applicants wait a total of six months before they apply for a visa after receiving a rejection.