Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

What is a visa

Apply visa online at your convenience

Simplified visa process with ACKO

International Travel Insurance - new

What is a visa?
Jump Tag Icon

Let's say you want to enter an amusement park. What would you require to enter the place? If you said, 'a ticket,' then you are a true genius. And do you know why you would need it? If you said, 'to show them I have the necessary approval to enter the area,' then you are a genius again. Bravo!

Now, ask yourself, if something as simple as an amusement park requires approval to enter, don't you think it makes sense for a country to have an approval system as well? That's exactly what a visa is.

If you've ever wondered about the significance of visas in international travel, lucky you, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will delve into the world of visas, exploring their purpose, types, application process, and much more. So keep reading.

Visa definition
Jump Tag Icon

A visa is an official document from a government that says you're allowed to enter, stay, or travel through a country for a certain time and reason. It's important for international travelers because it lets you cross borders and do things in another country legally.

Types of visas
Jump Tag Icon

Visas can be used for all sorts of things, like working, studying, or just visiting a foreign country. Here are some of the most common kinds of visas you might come across.

Travel/Tourist Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A travel/tourist visa is intended for individuals visiting a foreign country for leisure, tourism, or short-term purposes. It typically allows individuals to stay for a limited duration and engage in non-work-related activities. Requirements for a travel/tourist visa may include proof of accommodation, return tickets, and sufficient funds for the duration of the trip.

Work Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A work visa permits individuals to live and work in a foreign country for a specified period. These visas are usually granted based on an offer of employment from a company or organization in the host country. Work visas often have specific requirements, such as a job offer letter, proof of qualifications, and sponsorship from the employer.

Business Visa
Jump Tag Icon

 A business visa is designed for individuals travelling for business-related purposes, such as attending meetings, conferences, or exploring potential business opportunities. It allows individuals to engage in business-related activities without actually engaging in employment. The requirements for a business visa may include a letter from the inviting organization, proof of business ties, and a detailed itinerary.

Student Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A student visa enables individuals to pursue their education in a foreign country. It is granted to students accepted by educational institutions for full-time courses or academic programs. The requirements for a student visa typically include proof of enrollment, financial support, and a letter of acceptance from the educational institution.

Refugee/Asylum Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A refugee or asylum visa is granted to individuals fleeing persecution, conflict, or violence in their home country. These visas offer protection and legal status to individuals seeking refuge and are typically granted through a formal application process, requiring evidence of the need for protection.

Working Holiday Visa
Jump Tag Icon

 Some countries offer working holiday visas that allow individuals to travel and work for a specific period. These visas encourage cultural exchange and typically have age restrictions. They provide opportunities for individuals to explore a foreign country while supplementing their finances through short-term employment.

Spousal Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A spousal visa allows individuals to join their spouse or partner who is a citizen or permanent resident of a foreign country. It enables spouses to live together and may eventually lead to permanent residency or citizenship, depending on the country's regulations.

Transit Visa
Jump Tag Icon

A transit visa is required when individuals have a layover in a country and need to pass through immigration before reaching their final destination. It allows individuals to remain in the country for a limited period while waiting for their connecting flight or transportation.

Jump Tag Icon

An eVisa, or electronic visa, is a digital version of a traditional visa. It eliminates the need for a physical visa label or stamp on the passport. eVisas are typically obtained by applying online, and upon approval, the visa is electronically linked to the individual's passport.

Note: Visa types and their specific requirements can vary from country to country. Therefore, individuals should consult the relevant embassy or consulate of their destination country to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding the specific visa requirements and application process.

Distinction between immigrant and non-immigrant visas
Jump Tag Icon

Immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas are the two major types of visas. The key differences are listed in the table below.


Immigrant Visa

Nonimmigrant Visa


Intended for individuals seeking permanent residence in a country

Intended for individuals with temporary purposes such as tourism, work

Length of Stay

Generally allows for long-term or permanent residence

Allows for a limited duration of stay, typically temporary

Eligibility Criteria

Typically based on family relationships, employment, or investment

Based on specific purposes such as tourism, study, or work


Intends to establish a permanent residence in the country

Intends to visit temporarily or engage in specific activities

Path to Citizenship

Can lead to eventual eligibility for citizenship

Does not typically lead to citizenship

Residency Requirements

Requires the applicant to reside continuously in the country

Requires the applicant to maintain temporary residency

Job Opportunities

Offers potential employment opportunities in the country

May have limitations on employment or restrict certain types of work

Documentation and Process

Usually involves a complex application process and documentation

Involves a relatively simpler application process and documentation

Sponsorship and Support

May require a sponsor or petitioner to support the application

Sponsorship or petitioning may not be required

Potential Benefits and Privileges

Grants access to social benefits, healthcare, and education

Provides temporary access to specific privileges and benefits

Note: The table above provides a general comparison between immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. The specific details and requirements may vary depending on the country and its immigration policies.

Why are visas required?
Jump Tag Icon

Well, here’s why.

Sovereignty and security
Jump Tag Icon

Visas play a crucial role in upholding a country's sovereignty and ensuring national security. Let’s simplify it - Governments need to maintain control over who enters their borders. This is super important for keeping the people who live there safe. Visas also help stop bad things like smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism because they let the government keep an eye on who's entering.

Jump Tag Icon

Visa rules are often based on the idea of fairness. If one country makes it hard for people from another country to visit, that other country might do the same in return. This way, everyone gets treated the same when they want to travel.

Bilateral agreements
Jump Tag Icon

Sometimes, two countries make special deals with each other. These deals can make it easier for their citizens to visit. They might agree to let each other's people visit without a visa, or they could make the visa process simpler for certain reasons like tourism or business. These deals help countries become better friends, boost tourism, help trade, and make their diplomatic relationships stronger.

Applying for a visa
Jump Tag Icon

When applying for a visa, it is important to follow the necessary steps to ensure a smooth and successful application process. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the application.

Determine the Visa Type: First, you need to figure out what type of visa you need. This depends on your purpose for visiting, such as tourism, business, work, study, or a family reunion. Different visa types have different requirements and restrictions.

Check Eligibility: Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for the specific visa you're applying for. This can include factors like your nationality, the duration of your stay, and your criminal record.

Plan ahead for medical examinations and vaccinations: Some countries require applicants to undergo medical examinations or provide evidence of certain vaccinations. If your destination country has such requirements, make arrangements to schedule a medical examination with an approved physician or clinic. Allow sufficient time to complete any necessary vaccinations or health checks before your visa application submission.

Gather the required documents: Before starting your visa application, it is crucial to collect all the necessary documents. These typically include a valid passport, recent passport-sized photographs, and the completed application form. Additionally, you may need to provide supporting materials such as bank statements, proof of accommodation, travel insurance, and an invitation letter, depending on the type of visa you are applying for. Ensure that your documents meet the specific requirements stated by the embassy or consulate to avoid any delays or rejections.

Fill Out the Application Form: Complete the visa application form provided by the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. This form may be available online or in paper format.

Check visa prerequisites: Different countries may have specific prerequisites for visa applications. For instance, you may need to demonstrate proof of sufficient funds to cover your expenses during your stay, provide a detailed travel itinerary, or show evidence of ties to your home country, such as employment or family commitments. Research the specific requirements for your destination country and ensure that you fulfill them before submitting your application.

Pay the Visa Fee: There is usually a non-refundable visa application fee that you must pay when you submit your application. The fee can vary widely based on the country and the type of visa.

Schedule an Appointment: Some countries require you to schedule an appointment at their embassy or consulate to submit your visa application. Others may allow you to apply through a visa processing center or online.

Attend an Interview: Depending on the country and the type of visa, you may be required to attend an interview at the embassy or consulate. During the interview, you may be asked questions about your travel plans and the purpose of your visit.

Receive a Decision: After submitting your application and attending an interview (if required), you'll need to wait for the processing time. Once your application is processed, you'll receive a decision on your visa application. It can be approved, denied, or, in some cases, additional documents or information may be requested.

Collect Your Visa: If your visa is approved, you'll be asked to collect it from the embassy, consulate, or visa processing center. Some countries also offer visa issuance upon arrival.

Tip: If you find yourself unsure about any part of the visa application process or come across any difficulties, it might be helpful to consider getting advice from knowledgeable immigration lawyers or respected visa consultants.

Note: Remember to check the specific requirements and guidelines of the country you are applying to, as they may vary.

Requirements for obtaining a visa
Jump Tag Icon

To obtain a visa, applicants are typically required to fulfill certain criteria and provide specific documents. The exact requirements may vary depending on the country issuing the visa and the type of visa being applied for. Here are the general requirements for obtaining a visa.

  1. Valid Passport: Applicants must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the intended duration of stay. The passport should have blank pages available for visa stamping.

  2. Completed Visa Application Form: Applicants need to complete the designated visa application form accurately and provide all the necessary information as required. The form can usually be obtained from the embassy or consulate website of the country being visited.

  3. Photographs: Recent passport-sized colour photographs meeting the specified requirements (such as dimensions, background colour, and clothing) are usually required. The number of photographs required may vary, so it is important to check the specific guidelines for the visa application.

  4. Purpose of visit: Applicants must clearly state the purpose of their visit, whether it is for tourism, business, work, study, or any other relevant category. Supporting documents related to the purpose of the visit may be required.

  5. Proof of travel itinerary: Applicants may need to provide confirmed onward or return tickets indicating their intended dates of entry and departure from the country.

  6. Financial proof: Proof of sufficient funds to cover the cost of the stay, including accommodation, transportation, and daily expenses, is typically required. This can be demonstrated through bank statements, sponsorship letters, or any other acceptable means of financial documentation.

  7. Travel insurance: Some countries may require applicants to provide evidence of travel insurance that covers medical expenses, emergency evacuation, and repatriation during their visit.

  8. Accommodation details: Depending on the visa type, applicants may need to provide proof of accommodation arrangements, such as hotel reservations, a letter of invitation from a host, or a rental agreement.

  9. Health requirements: Certain countries may have specific health requirements, such as a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate, a medical examination report, or COVID-19-related documentation. It is important to check the visa requirements of the destination country for any health-related prerequisites.

  10. Character and background information: Applicants may be required to provide information regarding their character, criminal record, and background history. This may involve disclosing previous travel history, employment details, and any past visa rejections or violations.

  11. Additional documents: Depending on the specific visa category, additional documents may be required. These could include educational certificates, employment letters, business invitations, proof of family relationships, or any other relevant supporting documentation.

Note: It is essential to thoroughly research the visa requirements of the destination country and consult the embassy or consulate for accurate and up-to-date information.

What are the fees for obtaining a visa?
Jump Tag Icon

The following are the fee details for obtaining a visa.

Visa Type

Application Fee (INR)

Processing Time

Additional Fees (if applicable)

Tourist Visa


2 weeks


Business Visa


3 weeks

₹10,000 for expedited processing

Student Visa


4-6 weeks

₹20,000 for healthcare surcharge

Work Visa


6-8 weeks

₹45,000 for sponsorship certificate

Transit Visa


1 week


Spouse Visa


12 weeks

₹45,000 for immigration health surcharge

Note: The fees listed above are estimates and subject to change. It's always advisable to check with the relevant embassy or visa application centre for the most up-to-date fee information.

The visa interview
Jump Tag Icon

If you want to ace your visa interview, follow the advice below.

1. Interview location and structure: First things first, you need to know the interview location and the process. Visa interviews are usually held at the destination country's embassy or consulate. So, it is important to familiarise yourself with the interview location. Upon arrival, you'll go through some security checks. They will then direct you to a waiting area. This waiting time is your chance to calm your nerves and get mentally ready for the interview. So, try to arrive early. When it's your turn, they'll call you into the interview room.

2. Interview questions and responses: You can anticipate the consular officer to ask you a number of questions during the visa interview. These questions are designed to assess the purpose of your trip, your ties to your home country, your financial stability, and other relevant factors. So, it is essential to provide frank and concise responses to these queries. Here are some common interview questions you may encounter.

It is advisable to prepare well in advance for these questions and have concise, honest, and persuasive responses ready. Remember to provide specific details when necessary and avoid giving vague or ambiguous answers.

3. Body language and communication skills: Your body language and communication skills play an important role in creating a positive impression during the visa interview. Here are some tips to help you convey professionalism and confidence:

Practice these skills beforehand to ensure you come across as confident and well-prepared.

4. Additional procedures: Depending on the specific visa type and country-specific requirements, there may be additional procedures involved in the visa interview process. These procedures can include providing fingerprints, submitting additional documents, or undergoing medical examinations. It is important to research and familiarise yourself with any additional requirements beforehand so that you can fulfill them as needed.

Visa processing time
Jump Tag Icon

When you’re planning an international trip or a long-term stay abroad, it’s super important for you to know how long it takes to get your visa, as it can vary a lot. Here are some things that can make your visa take longer or shorter:

Factors affecting visa processing time
Jump Tag Icon

  1. Visa type: The processing time can vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for. Different visa categories, such as tourist visas, student visas, work visas, and business visas, may have varying processing times due to the specific requirements and complexities associated with each category.

  2. Country and embassy/consulate: The processing time can also be influenced by the country where you are applying for the visa and the workload of the respective embassy or consulate. Some countries may have faster processing times due to efficient visa processing systems, while others may have longer processing times due to higher volumes of visa applications.

  3. Application completeness: The completeness and accuracy of your visa application play a significant role in determining processing time. Ensure that you submit all the required documents and information correctly, as incomplete or incorrect applications may lead to delays or even visa rejections.

  4. Peak seasons: During peak travel seasons or popular holiday periods, visa processing times may be longer due to increased demand. It is advisable to apply well in advance to allow for any potential delays during these periods.

  5. Security and background checks: In some cases, additional security or background checks may be required for visa applicants. These checks can lengthen the processing time as they involve coordination between different government agencies to ensure the safety and security of the host country.

Frequently asked questions
Jump Tag Icon

Here are some common questions people have about visas.


How long does it take to obtain a visa?

The processing time for a visa can differ based on the country and the type of visa you are applying for. It can range from a few days to several weeks. It is best to apply well ahead of your intended travel dates for adequate processing time.

Can I extend my visa?

It depends on the specific rules of the country you're visiting. Each country has its own visa policies, and they can be quite different.  Some nations permit visa extensions under specific conditions, whereas others may require you to leave the nation and reapply for a visa. To know for sure, it's best to check with the immigration authorities or embassy/consulate of the country you’re in.

What happens if my visa application is denied?

When your visa application is denied, it means the immigration authorities have looked at your application and decided that you don't meet the requirements for that visa. There can be different reasons for this, like if your application was missing some important documents, if you didn't have enough money for your trip, or if you didn't meet certain criteria they're looking for. If this happens, you may have the option to appeal the decision or reapply with a more comprehensive application.

Can I work on a tourist visa?

In most cases, it is not permitted to work on a tourist visa. Tourist visas are generally issued for leisure or recreational purposes only, and engaging in employment or any form of paid work is often prohibited. If you intend to work in a foreign country, you will usually need to apply for a specific work visa that is tailored to your employment situation.

Do I need a visa for transit?

Whether you need a visa for transit depends on various factors, including your nationality, the country you are transiting through, and the duration of your layover. Some countries have transit visa exemptions for certain nationalities, allowing you to transit through their airports without a visa for a limited period. However, it's important to check the transit visa requirements of the specific country you will be transiting through to ensure compliance.

Are there any visa exemptions for specific countries?

Yes, some countries have visa exemptions or visa-free arrangements for certain nationalities. These exemptions may allow citizens of specific countries to enter, stay, or transit through the country for a limited period without requiring a visa. The duration and conditions of these exemptions can vary, so it's advisable to research the visa policies of the country you plan to visit to determine if you qualify for a visa exemption.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making any related decisions.

Explore More On Visas