My first encounter with getting a travel visa was pretty standard. I was an American student applying to study abroad in Scotland. American citizenship makes getting into most European countries pretty simple, but there’s still quite a bit of paperwork to fill out. The hardest thing for me was making sure I had the proper funding in place since I was going on loans. Thankfully all of that worked out and I was able to get all my paperwork submitted and processed in a timely manner.
However, while I was studying in Scotland, I was in the middle of a long-distance relationship. My boyfriend and I hadn’t seen each other in almost a year. We decided instead of me flying back to the States, we would go on an exotic adventure in China.
Let me tell you, as an American citizen living Scotland, applying for a Chinese travel visa was no picnic. My nearest Chinese embassy was 4 hours away, and I—of course—had to travel there in the middle of my finals. Joy.
Ultimately, through many mistakes and stressful trips down to Edinburgh, I was able to somehow pass my finals and get my visa processed. However, had I known to employ the services of an immigration solicitor, I would have saved myself a ton of grief and anxiety.
1. Know Your Visas
Every country has several different types of visas required for travel, living, and even just passing through. Depending on your citizenship—and current country of residency—your visa application process will differ from country to country.
For example, you may be flying from Ethiopia to Japan with a 10 hour layover in Shanghai. Your thoughts: explore the city for a few hours before catching your next flight.
While this is an excellent idea in theory, here’s the truth: places like Shanghai require visas even to leave the airport for a short amount of time. The Chinese government is very restrictive on entry and exit border patrols. This is true in many other countries as well.
Typical rule of thumb goes: if you are a citizen of a Western World nation, you will likely be able to travel to most of North America and Europe without a travel visa (unless it’s long term travel). However, if you are a Westerner going to an Eastern World nation, you will likely have to jump through a lot of red tape to get there properly. This is the same for Easterners coming West.
A professional adviser—like those at AIA Perth Migration Agents—will help you navigate just when exactly you need a visa while traveling.
Professional advisers can also help you to get Saudi visas.
2. Expedite the Process
While visas and passports are able to be expedited for a fee—for quick processing—consulting an agent will naturally expedite the time as well. While you’ll still have to pay a processing fee for quick delivery, the time you’ll save by consulting a professional throughout the process will be exponential.
The professional will be able to answer all your questions in sequence and provide you with organized research and statistics. While google is an excellent resource for self-education, you may not always know what it is you need to know when you’re searching. A professional will help you sort out all the information you need from that you do not.
This makes the application process much more clear. Clarity lowers the risk of foolish mistakes being made. In a visa application, making mistakes costs time and money. Consulting a professional will help minimize mistakes and thus provide ease of mind while you are going through this time.
3. Visa Interview Prep
A professional in the visa application industry will also be able to help you properly prepare for your upcoming visa interview. If you are applying for a typical travel visa, the interview process is usually pretty straight forward. However, if you are planning to travel outside of your “visa free” days—some countries offer up to 90 days of travel within the year without a visa—then you’ll need to apply for a more complicated visa.
Whether this is a work visa, a business visa, or an extended travel visa, these applications require much more information and paperwork. This is so the government can ensure you will be able to care for yourself for the duration you are within their country. This is exactly how Norway keeps their economic and societal standards so high. By ensuring that only the self-sustaining can immigrate or stay for long periods of time, the countries take the burden off of themselves so they can better serve their people.
This extended paperwork and interview process needs coaching so you can successfully navigate it the first time.
4. Power in Your Corner
Consulting An Immigration Lawyer also gives you an “in” when it comes to answering unexpected questions. By consulting a professional, you have the power of knowledge in your corner.
As we said before, google is a powerful resource. However, the continually updating knowledge of an industry professional is infinitely more useful for two reasons.
First: they know what to search. The industry professional knows about industry changes before google ever will. Even if the change hits the news nine hours after a national disaster occurs in a country, google will only have the facts of the disaster. Your travel consultant will be able to tell you when you can travel, how you can travel, if it is safe to travel, etc… This knowledge is absolutely paramount, especially in this time of history.
Second: the human element. Having human contact is essential when it comes to travel. Not only will you have contact with someone who knows where you’re going, but if you have an issue while you’re traveling, you’ll know someone who can help smooth things over with you and the embassy. Additionally, engaging with your professional’s personality will help the two of you connect. The industry professional will likely give you tips and tricks that they have learned over time.
5. Streamlining the Application
While the industry professional cannot skip out on any portions of the application, they will know exactly how to fill out all the sections and what paperwork to include. The industry professional will also be able to help you organize all of your personal information in a way that will make the application committee go through it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Streamlining the process will once again lower anxiety and hopefully yield a fruitful return.
While travel is completely possible without engaging the services of an industry professional, having someone on your side who knows the ups and downs of visa applications is a worthy investment. Not only will it save you time, stress, and money, but it will also employ you with valuable information you can use every single time you need to go through this application process.