Visa processing is often a very complicated process involving collecting and translating documents, undergoing medical examinations and biometrics, visiting a visa centre, etc. In addition, each country has its own requirements and differences, which are difficult to research. In this article, we analyse the most popular visa types and go through the main stages of the application process.
Types of visas
Depending on the purpose of the trip, visas can be divided into several categories:
Visitor/tourist visas are usually issued for a short period (maximum 6-9 months) for tourist trips or to visit friends and relatives.
Student visas are issued for the purpose of studying language courses or for secondary studies and higher education. The term of a student visa usually coincides with the duration of the study, plus a couple of months extra to allow for arrival and departure.
Work visas are for employment. In most cases, to obtain such a visa, you need to find a job first and get a Job Offer, but there are also open work visas that are not tied to any employer. Specifically, open work visas are issued in many countries after professional training. The duration of work visas is usually 1-5 years.
Business visas are designed for immigrants to run their own business in the country or invest in existing companies. To obtain this type of visa, an applicant needs substantial capital and a business idea or a detailed business plan.
Family visas – in this group, we have combined visas for partners/spouses and dependant children of the principal applicants. Whichever visa you apply for, you almost always have the opportunity to take your family with you. However, the conditions for family members vary. Whether your partner can work and whether your child will be eligible for free or subsidised schooling depends on your visa type.
Resident visas allow you to live and work in the country permanently. These visas are a significant stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of immigration and citizenship. Obtaining a residence visa can be challenging. It often takes several years.
Visa application process
So, you have already decided on the purpose of your trip and the type of visa you need. Next, the application process begins, and this can be divided into several stages:
1. Collection of documents and their translation into English
Each type of visa has its own list of required documents. For example, for a visitor visa you may be required to have an invitation from your relatives if you are going to visit them. If you are travelling as a tourist, you will need a hotel booking, flights and a detailed plan for your trip. For a work visa, you need a job offer; for a student visa an Offer of Place from an educational institution, etc.
In addition to these documents, you will definitely need to provide bank statements to show that you have enough money to travel. Also, if this is a temporary visa, guarantees that you will return to your homeland are required. These can be from your work, real estate, family, relationships – in other words, anything that ties you back to your country.
If you apply for a visa to the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland or New Zealand, you must translate the documents into English. The translation must be done by a professional translator and certified either by the translation agency’s stamp or by a notary. The translation cannot be done by you or a friend who has a good knowledge of English.
2. Medical examination
When applying for a visa to the UK, Australia, Canada or New Zealand for a period of 6 months or more, residents of some countries need to undergo a chest X-ray. Australia and Canada also require a full medical examination; New Zealand only requires a full medical when the visa duration is more than one year. No medical examination is required for a visa to Ireland.
X-ray and medical examinations can only be done at specially authorised clinics. You can find a list of these clinics on the website of the immigration authorities of these countries. Doctors themselves upload your examination results to the database, where the visa officer can find them using a unique code. Everything is confidential and very convenient. However, there may not be an authorised clinic in your city if you live in a rural area. In that case, you will have to go to the nearest large city for a medical examination where there is such a clinic, so it is better to book an appointment and plan your trip in advance.
3. Submission of documents and biometrics
Technological progress and the development of information technology have not bypassed the immigration services, so now you can apply for most visas online. To do this, you need to create a personal account on the immigration service’s website, fill out an online application form, upload scanned documents in pdf format and pay the visa fee with a card. After the online submission process is complete, instructions for the next steps will appear on the screen. For example, you need to send your passport to the visa centre for verification for a visa to New Zealand.
For a visa to Australia, Canada and the UK, biometrics may be required, including photos and fingerprints. Biometrics are only carried out if your visa and country of residence require the same. You can do it at the Visa Application Centre after submitting your online visa application.
You can also submit a paper application by visiting the Visa Application Centre in person. It is possible to verify the passport and complete biometrics on the same day as long as you have made an appointment for this in advance.
4. Issuance of a visa
The processing time for documents varies greatly depending on the country and visa type. It can be a few weeks or a few months. In any case, it is wise to check the processing times for each visa on the Immigration Service’s official website and apply well in advance of the date you wish to travel.
When passing biometrics for a visa to the UK, the applicant leaves their passport at the visa centre for the period of visa processing. If the visa is approved, it is stamped into the passport.
A visitor visa to Canada is also pasted into the passport. If you apply for a work permit or study permit, a visa approval document is first sent to your e-mail, and the permit itself is stamped in the passport at border control.
New Zealand and Australia have a slightly different visa issuing process when applying online. The visa is simply sent by e-mail in pdf format and uploaded to your online account. In this case, nothing is pasted into the passport.
Assistance in obtaining a visa
All information on visa processing and the necessary documents are publicly available on the official websites of each country’s immigration services. Having studied this information carefully, you can apply for a visa for yourself and your family. However, it can be quite tricky if you do not have good enough English to understand legal terminology, experience working with documents, or time to study this issue and look for answers on your own.
Besides, when working with visa officers, each country has its own peculiarities that you will not find in official sources. For example, what should you say to an officer if he calls you or sends you an official written request? Or what optional documents can increase your chances of getting a visa? Experienced visa specialists know the answers to these questions. You can use the services of such specialists, but you need to understand who has the right to help you and charge you for this help.
To apply for a visa, you can use the help of your friends or relatives for free if they already have some experience; in the case of free assistance an immigration advisor license is not required.
Only licensed immigration advisors or immigration lawyers can provide paid assistance to obtain visas, including work and residence ones. They must have a license from a particular country to provide paid immigration advice and visa services. The services of such specialists, as a rule, are expensive since obtaining the license requires a considerable period of study. A lawyer can represent you in the tribunal and defend your rights if necessary, as well as assisting you with your visa application.
You can also apply for a student visa to New Zealand through an educational agent such as Kiwi Education. Education agencies are exempt from licensing. We help you obtain a student visa absolutely free of charge since our work is paid for by educational institutions. You can read about the principles of our work here.
We also work with immigration advisors from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK to help you with immigration and visa issues. Fill out the form on our website, and we will contact you within 24 hours.