One day, you are peacefully scrolling through your Instagram feed and suddenly, you have this powerful urge to travel to the most beautiful and exotic places that people on Instagram have visited.
You are definitely ready to have an adventure of your own this time, so you started researching about the place and then, you realized that travelling is not as easy as it is paraded to be online.
There are a lot of travel documents that must be prepared, filled up, and submitted. Applications fees for different institutions, a lot of interviews, medical examination, and yes, money out of your pocket. Even after several suggestions and inquiries from travel-savvy people, you remain overwhelmed by the process.
First off, if you are confused about anything related to visa and immigration, calm down, because you are not alone. It is complex and different for each country, it’s truly difficult to keep up when the rules keep changing.
But, first, let’s define a few key words here.
What is a Visa?
You keep hearing about the visa and how stressful it is to obtain one. So what exactly is a visa and why is it so important?
Well, visa actually emerged to solve the problem of illegal immigration. With the end of second world war, the modern countries as we know it was slowly emerging and citizenship is already becoming a huge deal.
Basically, a visa makes sure that you don’t simply skip off to another country for safety and sovereignty reasons. It filters the criminals and provides the government a clear idea if you are under their rule for taxes payment and provisions such as healthcare and education.
Hence, visa is given as a travel document to make sure you can enter another country legally, and given its importance, it is not authorized without a thorough review of the person’s background.
Visa is conditional and has a lot of limitations such as the duration of your stay in another country, which country you may enter, the dates of your arrival and departure, number of allowable visits, and even your rights to work, education, and healthcare.
So, it is quite stressful to obtain one, because of the tedious procedure and it can take up to two weeks to two months since application before it can be released, depending on the gravity of need and number of people applying for the same visa.
What is Immigration?
It is actually the Immigration Office of the Philippines, for example. But it has been shortened to “immigration,” which refers to the office of institution the processes travel documents and gives travel authorizations to one or more person.
Our immigration office is under the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). All the visa issued to a person is reviewed by the immigration body of officers.
How do I know if I need a Visa?
This depends on the “power” of your passport.
All the countries around the world has a passport, a form of travel document issued by the country of your citizenship in order to give you your right to travel to another country. It contains your identification and citizenship.
A passport is also the one you present and use when you wish to travel, without which, you will never be allowed to enter other countries.
Each country has its own travel agreement with another country.
Currently, the passport of Germany is the most powerful passport in the world followed by Singapore. This only meant that they have the highest number of country that they can enter without a visa, with 177 and 176 respectively. Meanwhile, the Philippines can enter 63 countries visa-free as of January 2018.
If the country you are visiting is not included in the “visa-free” country listed for your passport, then you are required to apply and obtain a visa for that country.
For example, the Philippines can travel freely to Malaysia, yet we must apply for a visa to go to South Korea, or there’s a risk for imprisonment and travel ban.
So always look at the entry requirements of a particular nation you wish to visit!
What does a Visa look like?
You might be thinking that there is something physically grand with it, seeing its importance, but it usually takes the form of a sticker or a stamp in your passport.
So when entering another country, you only need to present your passport, where the visa would be stamped or even electronically-printed.
So how do I apply for a Visa?
As I said, visa application and requirements differ from one country to the next, but all of the information you may need can now be found online! So there’s no need to fret.
Most countries prefer online application now, anyway, because it is faster and allows your details to quickly enter the database.
Typically, however, you need to download the applications form and fill them up. Afterwards, you print out the document, gather all other necessary papers, and go to the nearest embassy or local consulate of that country.
So if you are applying for a tourist visa to South Korea, you should go to the embassy of South Korean, which is currently located in Taguig, Metro Manila.
Is there a Visa application fee?
Yes, there is a fee and it can be really expensive depending on your target country, plus the type of visa that you may need.
Tourist visa can be quite cheap, especially for neighbor countries such as China and Japan, but working visa for these two countries can cost you a lot of thousands. In fact, the starting visa application fee of United States of America (USA) is already around P20,000!
Is it worth the hassle?
Definitely. With all the stress it might give you, nothing can compare to travelling to different parts of the world and seeing for yourself the historic sites you have only seen in movies, or swimming in that famous beach in Australia, or encountering various people that speaks various languages.
The experiences is worth all the painful visa processing and you come back home a very different person, someone who has appreciated another culture and created a whole lot of memories to last a lifetime.
Leave a Reply