Traveling internationally is not often as easy as booking a ticket online. Many popular travel destinations require pre-registered travel visas. For some countries this can be extremely easy, for others however the process and formality can be substantially more intimidating than getting your passport (which better be modern or your going nowhere!)
A “visa” is a temporary (or in some cases permanent) authorization to travel, live or work within a foreign country. As US citizens, we are often advantaged to be able to travel to many countries without pre-registration and this is due to political relations with that country. While you may not need a pre-registered visa to enter Italy, the person standing close to you in the immigration line may. Likewise, many foreign nationals are allowed section to the United States without such a visa, but many are not. Each nation has its own prerequisite for each other country and when you add up the visa requirements for nearly 200 countries and their steadily changing political and social relations with the other 200 countries, things can get a little confusing.
Once you have determined your destination(s), you need to find out whether or not a visa is required. This isn’t quite as easy as it may sound. You could check the foreign embassies US site (google: “COUNTRYNAME embassy” for most). The US State Department keeps a beautiful updated international FactBook as do the CIA and FBI. Or you could seek out the expertise of a Visa Expediting Service. “Expeditors” as they are known work with foreign embassies and consulate offices to secure the legitimate visas for their customers and keep databases brimming with requirements. These services can give you fast answers and detailed requirements quickly and easily. The major players in this market have extremely easy to understand sites where you simply select the country or countries you are traveling to and give a definitive answer.
If your destination does require a visa, you may apply for the visa on your own or use an expeditor to secure the visa for you. Requirements will in general be really simple – an application, an itinerary, a photo and your passport. Since the visa must be stamped or affixed in your passport, the embassy investment visa hong kong or consulate office requires your original passport. Visa can be issued for a specific excursion or for a timeframe between 30 days and 5 years. This varies from country to country and depending on the reason for travel. Processing visas on your own can be a bit confusing and embassies and consulates are often of little assistance. Many times the instructions have been loosely translated from their original language and read poorly or incorrectly. Many embassies won’t accept mailed in applications, the application must be conveyed in person or via dispatch. With their expertise in assisting travelers, disseminating information and pre-screening applications for problems, embassies and consulate actually would rather that you use an expediting service. The expediting service can not actually issue the visa, but they know what the embassy is looking for and ensure that the documents and processing fees submitted are in acceptable order. They also will in general have a little bit of pull with some embassies and can, on occasion, pull off some lovely impressive miracles.
As there is no real regulation of the visa expediting industry, choose your expeditor well. The Google search “China Visa Expediting” returns around 45,000 results including 30 or so paid listings. Some of these services offer to process visas for as little as $20 (plus the cost of the embassy fee) but there is no telling who these individuals are. Stay with the reputable firms all of whom carry out strict hiring, confidentially, IT security and other standards in order to ensure your documents are safe and treated professionally. Although finding information on which firms are reputable, any member of the National Association of Passport and Visa Service members are among the industry’s elite and have long term, solid reputations. Prices for these services range from around $50 to upwards of $200 not including the embassy fees. Although none of these firms can guarantee that you will accept your visa on schedule or without incident, they do represent the heft of the processing power in the industry and represent most major companies either straightforwardly or through partnerships with international travel companies.