You must have heard words like immigrant and non-immigrant, student visa, etc. This article, Types of Visas in the US AND WHAT THEY ARE FOR, will explain it better.
If you are thinking of traveling abroad for reasons of study, work, or simply a trip to get to know, visit places, or vacation, you must apply for one of the different types of visas that exist to travel abroad and enter legally.
In the following article, we will explain to you, in a simple way, what a visa is, as well as the different types of visa, depending on the main activity that you will dedicate yourself to in that country. We will also tell you a little about the countries that will or will not ask you for a visa as a Latin American citizen.
What is a Visa?
A visa is a document issued by a government, which allows foreign citizens to enter its territory. In addition to the entry and stay in the country, it authorizes the foreign citizen to carry out some activities, such as studies, work, or tourism.
Therefore, there are various types of visas where each one authorizes certain activities, so it specifies what can be done with it. Based on this, there are, in general, two types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant. The first is for those who wish to stay in the country, while the second is for those who will make a temporary stay. We will go deeper into this later.
The specific requirements to apply for a visa vary in each country, although in general recent photos are required, a passport with validity greater than your stay, proof of sufficient funds, as well as the respective form.
Sometimes, and depending on the country and type of visa requested, a travel itinerary, work contract, certificate of admission to an educational institution, medical certificate, criminal record, letter of invitation, or proof of vaccination for certain diseases may be requested.
As for the application process, for some people, it can be complicated. First, for not knowing which is the most appropriate visa, especially when it comes to a study visa. Then, for the forms that must be filled out.
Remember that to apply for any of the types of visa, you must first schedule an appointment with the representation of the country you wish to visit, in your country of origin.
It is worth mentioning that there are immigration lawyers who help foreign citizens with the visa process. They offer advice to know what type of visa you require, about the requirements and forms, to accompany the face-to-face process. However, hiring their services is not essential.
Countries that require a visa to enter
Until now, we have explained what a visa is, the two main types, as well as the general requirements of a visa, but did you know that there are some countries that do not request a visa to enter their territory from citizens of certain countries? This is thanks to the visa waiver program.
This program is applied by some countries for business and tourism trips, with a duration of no more than 90 days, without the need to process any type of visa. They only need an electronic travel authorization. However, not all countries participate in this program.
For example, the United States applies visa exemption to more than 30 countries. These include Chile, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, and Portugal, among others. As long as it is for tourism or business and your stay does not last more than 90 days. You can consult the complete list on the website of the Office of Consular Affairs.
As a Latin American citizen, you will be able to travel without needing a visa to the countries of the Schengen area, such as Germany, Spain, Norway, Austria, and Greece, among others. In addition to countries such as Argentina, Guatemala, Turkey, Qatar, Singapore, and Papua New Guinea, among others.
The countries that will request a visa, there are the United States, Canada, Cuba, Brazil, Australia, China, Russia, India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Angola, Kuwait, and the United Kingdom, among others.
For all of the above, we recommend you consult the Foreign Affairs page of your country of origin. Since the citizens of some Latin American countries have the visa exemption, other citizens must present it.
If you already consulted and the country you want to visit asks for a visa and you don’t know which one to process, don’t worry! Next, we will talk about the types of visas.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are generally two types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant. Read carefully to know what type of visa you need.
The immigrant visa is for those who wish to stay permanently for various situations, such as having a citizen or permanent resident family member, having a permanent job offer, or wanting to make an investment in the country.
While the non-immigrant visa is granted to those who only wish to make a short or temporary stay in the country and do not intend to stay. People who have this type of visa must return to their country of origin within a period not exceeding the time authorized on the visa.
Non-immigrant visas count, in turn, in several categories depending on the type of activity that will be carried out during their stay. Each of them has its own requirements, rights, and responsibilities.
It is worth mentioning that non-immigrant visas do not guarantee obtaining a green card. However, they can change the category status, when their activities change and the requirements established by the other type of visa are met.
Some countries have restrictions on this. For example, in Europe, you cannot enter with a tourist visa and later apply for a study visa. Therefore, if you plan to study, you must enter directly with a student visa, or leave the country and apply for a study visa. (see How to obtain Permanent Residence in the USA)
If your plans are to study abroad, the study visa is the right one for you. Whether you are doing research, participating in an exchange program, a full-time language course, an internship, or pursuing a degree, you must apply for a student visa. (see How To Get Your Student VISA for The USA)
This type of visa is one of the most requested visas and allows you to stay legally for the duration of the study program in which you are enrolled. In some countries, this document allows you to work under certain conditions, requirements, and restrictions.
On the other hand, depending on the country you travel to, the visa can be short-term or long-term. Also, some countries will ask you to apply for a temporary residence permit after a year.
The general requirements for this visa are recent photographs, evidence of economic solvency, an acceptance certificate from a higher education institution, a valid passport, and accommodation data.
The work visa allows employers of a country to hire foreign citizens for temporary jobs. Depending on the country, there are different types of work visas that depend on the activity to be carried out: specialized occupation, agricultural workers, training, training, transfer within a company, art, or sports.
There are conditions for a person to obtain this type of visa. For example, not displacing a citizen or worsening conditions, such as lower wages. In addition, the countries offer a limited number of this type of visa, also, it has a maximum length of stay, usually around 6 years.
A person who has a non-immigrant work visa can subsequently obtain an immigrant work visa, as long as he meets the requirements established by the country.
To process this visa, you will be asked for recent photographs, a work contract, a passport with validity greater than the time of your stay, a criminal record letter, a medical certificate, as well as the corresponding forms.
As we explained in previous sections, not all countries participate in the visa waiver program. Therefore, if you want to visit or get to know a country that does not participate in this program, you will have to apply for a tourist visa.
This document allows you to legally enter the country for the purpose of getting to know, visiting places, walking, and carrying out any other unpaid activity. The tourist visa does not allow other types of activities, such as work or study. So it is important that if you want to do any of these activities, you apply for the corresponding type of visa.
Generally, they will ask for recent photos, an application form, a current and valid passport, proof of work, proof of income, travel ticket quotes, as well as an itinerary of your visit.
Temporary Resident Visa
This type of visa is for those who wish to stay in a foreign territory for a period greater than 180 days and less than 4 years. The temporary resident visa is sometimes also known as a temporary residence permit.
In general, you must submit recent photographs, a passport valid for more than 6 months on the date of your departure from the country, proof of economic solvency, as well as the corresponding form.
Since this type of visa is commonly requested from students and long-term workers, after the first year of legal stay in the country, it is possible that additional documents are required for processing, to those that we mentioned above.
Some of these documents are full-time enrollment in a higher education institution or an employment contract, indicating the position, place of work, and salary.
This is the most important information we have gathered about visa types. We invite you to share this article with family, friends, and colleagues who may find it useful. (See How to Travel Abroad without having money)