One of the many nightmares that frequent or occasional travelers have to deal with is when the important travel documents are not valid anymore. As anyone may understand, the process of applying for and being given international travel documents can be very long. This fact means that realizing that the documents you hold currently cannot be used anymore sends chills down your whole being.
Before deciding on where to travel to for any reason including business, leisure visit, education, name it, having valid travel documents is a key priority. In most cases, the immigration guidelines require that by the time of travel, the travel document should be valid throughout the journey until return.
Visa and passport requirements
A visa just means a document issued by a representative or consulate of the country to which you intend to visit that grants you legal entry. The visa has a shorter validity period and is issued mostly for stays less than 12 months.
For people traveling for a longer stay of more than 12 months, a residence permit is always processed. But been when a residence permit is issued, a visa is still affixed on the passport to allow you to transit through the airports of call and destination.
A passport on the other hand is an acknowledgment by the country to which you are a citizen that you are allowed to travel abroad. It just affirms that you are the citizen of the issuing country and that you cannot at any time be rendered stateless when out of the country.
As a basic procedural requirement, an application to travel abroad requires that you have a valid passport onto which the visa stamp is affixed. The required validity period for the passport may vary from country to country-meaning one needs to check out everything as part of private immigration planning.
A valid passport for international travel
A passport document on its own does not mean you can travel. There is the technical requirement of validity. A passport validity means that it must have been procured through the legal way, has all the required biometric features of the owner, is not yet expired, and is not damaged in any way.
So whenever one has an impending trip, it is a good practice to open your safe, remove the passport, examine it closely. Check if the dates are still okay, that it is not folded or defaced. Actually, a passport is not the ordinary document that you want to take chances with.
These days, most countries give out passports with biometric information for easy processing of your travel and transit through airports. So it is a recommendation that as much as possible, change your old manual passport to an electronic one.
If your passport is not valid in the technical sense, no consulate or embassy will accept to affix a visa on it. It means you have to start over the process of getting a new passport before the trip can be allowed….that is crazy but it’s just how it works.
Validity of Visa for international travel
Whenever you have to travel abroad, the consulate of the country you are traveling to will have to first assess the application upon which they give a visa. A visa is just a confirmation by the embassy of the issuing country that you are allowed to enter and leave that country.
Although there are a number of bilateral agreements between countries that allow citizens of specific countries to be given visas at the port of arrival, in most cases, the whole handling of the application is at the embassy. As a necessity, check the visa requirements for all the countries in your itinerary to be sure of the expected visa rules that apply to a citizen of your country.
When granted a visa, the terms and conditions will be made crystal clear to you in very plain and explanatory language. Whatever the embassy does is to ensure that chances of the terms of visa being misunderstood are limited.
The visa will state the reason for travel, the country or region within which you can travel, and the expected period of stay. The most important of all is the period of validity of the visa. In case you overstay the visa period, you immediately become an illegal resident of the country even if you had a valid passport and visa initially.
Extending your visa abroad
As a foreigner in any country, it is important to avoid ignoring immigration requirements or assuming that the authorities will negotiate with you. With the increasing cases of illegal immigration, most immigration authorities are very strict or sometimes ruthless in dealing with holders of expired travel documents.
You do not want to be hounded out of your hotel room or host residence and be deported to your country on the next available flight. So, it is a good practice to frequently check the expiry period of the visa. In most cases, short-stay visas are granted for up to 90 days but can also be extended provided that there is a convincing reason for such an extension.
As a precaution. One should just apply for an extension of visa in good time for the case to be processed before the existing visa expires. Being proactive is better than being sorry.
Just as advice, your application for an extension of visa should at all times be reasonable enough to appeal to the authorities. If the reasons are not appealing enough and you do not document your ability to support yourself during that extra period of stay, the application may sadly be regretted.
Changing immigration status
Sometimes things happen so fast that you have something new to do in the host country and require a new application for residence documents. Take, for instance, you go visiting a friend or family and while there, apply for and get admission to a university.
Understandably, you cannot continue staying in the country on a short stay visa as a student. Instead, you have to apply for and be granted a residence permit as a student. The same case applies if you get a job, internship, or any new assignment in the country.
I bet, provided that the reason for changing residence status in that country is good enough, the immigration authorities will not hesitate for a moment to grant you a new status. Just make sure that you have all the documents to prove your case. In most cases, clear documents work miracles and shorten the case processing time.
Checklist For International Travel
Although it is a matter of routine for international travel, people still find themselves making mistakes on what they require when traveling abroad. Without the correct requirements, especially the mandatory ones, you may travel but find the stay at your destination very difficult.
For smooth travel without any incidences, ensure that you have the following in your custody.
- A valid passport
- A valid visa
- A valid health insurance
- A proof of ability to support self during the period of stay
- A flight ticket reservation
There may be other requirements that vary from country to country and as a necessity, just check each of them in detail. They may be given in a series of URL links that can be annoying. But as a traveler, never take the chances if at all the trip has to be worth telling in years.