Every person wishing to travel or enter into a host country must go through a visa application process. Sometimes this is stressful and time consuming as you will need to figure a lot of things out in order to make your visa application a successful one. The following steps describe the visa application procedure for a visa:
STEP 1: Figure out whether you need a visa or not
The first step of your visa application is to figure out whether you need a visa or not. Some countries have visa free agreement and therefore, they are allowed to travel without visa whiles other countries need visa in order to travel. However, every citizen will need a visa to travel to other part of the world. For example, US citizens can travel to over 100 countries without a visa whiles they can get a 47 visa on arrival, but 35 countries requires them to obtain a visa before arriving in the country. This should inform you that no matter the passport you hold, you will still need a travel visa.
STEP 2: Find out what type of visa you need
If you figure out you need a visa then, your next step is to find out what type of visa you need. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose of your travel. For example, if you are traveling for tourism, then you need a tourist visa(non immigrant visa). If you traveling to join your family and live and work permanently in the host country then you need a family visa(immigrant visa). The type of visas are explained above and can guide you to select the right visa you need to apply.
STEP 3: Inform the immigration in the host country
The person inviting you must talk to the immigration in the host country as they are responsible for issuing visas. They will be able to guide you guys throughout the application process and will inform you about any documents they would need from you guys in order to prevent any visa refusal. Moreover, if you are applying for immigrant visa e.g. family visa, your family needs to apply for petition at the immigration office and it must be approved before you can apply for the visa. It is therefore advisable to always inform the immigration before taking any step.
STEP 4: Visa application requirement
After informing the immigration, they will guide you to prepare all the documents you will need for the visa application or you can find the specific requirement for your visa at the immigration website or at the embassies website. The required documents are a crucial part of your visa application. There are mandatory documents every visa applicant must submit and these are: passport, passport photo, application forms, proof of financial means and accommodation. The other type of documents you must provide will depend on the type of visa you applying for. And some countries have extra requirement for visa applicants. Every embassy have a check list of documents required for visa application, which includes the standard requirements, as well as the visa specific requirements for each visa type.
STEP 5: Start your visa Application by filling application forms
At this stage, you know the type of visa you applying and the required documents you need to submit with you visa application. Now you need to fill the application forms which includes your personal information, information on your background, your purpose of traveling, information about the person you visiting, and other details about your trip. Some countries have changed the traditional application forms to an online application forms and therefore, you are required to create a profile and fill your application forms online. After filling the forms, you print a copy for yourself to submit at the embassy personally and then submit the online forms online. Other countries are still using the traditional application forms so you are required to print the forms, fill and sign and present to the embassy personally.
STEP 6: Pay your visa fees
You can pay your visa fees online if you are using online application or you can also pay at any specific bank required by the embassy. You must keep the receipt and submit it to the embassy as proof of fee payment. You need to be aware that without the receipt they will not attend to you nor will you be allowed to enter the embassy premises.
STEP 7: Book an appointment
Most countries give you the opportunity to book an appointment online whiles others require you to come to the embassy in person to book an appointment. You book an appointment to attend a visa interview, for your photograph and fingerprint to be taken for your visa. When you booking an appointment, you will be given the opportunity to select the day and time you will be available in order to visit the embassy in person.
STEP 8: Visa interview/ Photograph and Finger print
This is the last stage of your visa application process. At this stage, you visit the embassy in person to take photograph and fingerprint as well as to attend a visa interview. You must go along with all your documents to be submitted to the embassy for your visa application. You need to understand that, if you forget to submit any documents required by the embassy will result in visa refusal. Moreover, submitting all documents does not guarantee your visa application will be successful. The visa officer will assess individual case and decide if you need a visa or not. Furthermore, if you must attend a visa interview, ensure you are familiar with your personal information, information about the person inviting you, all the dates, and other details about your trip.
STEP 9: Wait for a decision
Every country have a specific period for processing a visa. For example, schengen states takes up to 3 months to process a visa, UK takes 15 days to process a visa and US take few days to process a non immigrant visas and years to process immigrant visas(special processing time if you are a student or spouse). When a decision is made on your case, it will be posted to your home address or you will be informed to pick it up at the embassy.
If your visa is approved: If you get your visa, make sure you understand carefully the labels attached to the visa sticker, including the period it allows you to remain in the country, otherwise overstaying in the country might have consequences. Also ensure all your information on the visa sticker is correct. If you found anything wrong on the visa sticker inform the embassy immediately.
If your visa gets rejected: if your visa is refused, read the reason why they refused your visa and correct it next time you apply for a visa. If you think you application was correct and the decision for refusing you is a mistake, you can always appeal the visa rejection or you can make a new application as soon as possible.