The word ‘Visa’ is derived from the Latin phrase “charta visa,” which literally translates into ‘paper that has been seen.’
In modern international travel, a Visa refers to a conditional authorization granted by the competent department or authority of a particular country to a foreign national, who wishes to gain entry into that country for limited stay duration. Visas vary from country to country and are governed by several conditions or factors such as:
• Territory or country being visited,
• Duration of stay,
• Validity of dates – passport and accompanying documents,
• Single or multiple visits etc.
A visa is usually associated with a ‘request for permission’ to enter a foreign country and may differ from ‘actual formal permission’ to enter and remain in a country for a specified duration. It is subject to immigration norms and permissions in place at the time and can be revoked for any reason.
The two main categories of visas in the US are Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa; however there are altogether about 185 different types of visas.
Historically a visa was a seal granting entry to a foreigner on arrival in a foreign country; however today, international travel regulations prescribe that prior permission in advance is obtained from the host country before making travel plans.
Certain countries require their own citizens as well as foreign travellers to get an ‘exit visa’ allowing them to leave the country.
The procedure for visa application for non-immigrant visa, which is the most common type of visa issued, broadly requires the following documents to be available or completed
1. Photograph – a printed copy as well as a digital image (JPEG)
2. Application form DS-160 to be filled and uploaded with digital photograph. A printed copy of the form containing the CEAC barcode has to be taken.
3. After creating online profile, steps 1 to 10 have to be concluded until the payment confirmation screen is visible.
4. Visa payment can be made through payment options provided or at any of the Bank branches authorized.
5. Depending upon payment made, the appointment can take anywhere between a few hours to a couple of days. It is useful to keep the bank receipt number for the visa fee payment in hand for quick reference.
6. Unless a person applying for visa has automatic exemption (like persons over 80 and children under 7) there are two appointments to be made – OFC appointment (for fingerprinting and photo) and Consular Interview appointment.
7. On the OFC appointment date, the biometric personal details have to be collected from the prescribed location.
8. For the Consular Interview, it is important to be at the location at least 15 minutes before time with the bank fee receipt for the visa, appointment letter and supporting documents in original as per requirements.
9. Once the visa is stamped on the passport, it will be returned by courier to the specified collection location.