Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Primer on Passport and Visa

Millions of international travelers travel to other countries each year. Some plan for a temporary visit whereas others travel to migrate permanently. Most countries welcome international visitors as they view such visitors and immigrants adding greatly to their nation's cultural, education and economic life. At the same time, they try to do everything they can to keep everyone safe in their country. This has resulted in evolution of visa rules and laws. On the other hand, each country also places restrictions on emigration or exodus of its citizens for a variety of reasons. This is controlled through a passport. If you wish to travel abroad, you must first obtain a passport. Your Government, for example, may not allow you to travel to a hostile country and therefore may put a stamp on your passport restricting your travel to that country. In India, the Passport office generally does not place any restriction on travel to any country in the world. It freely allows international travel to educated, professionals. However, it restricts travel of illiterate people by placing an ECR stamp on their passport or canceling ECNR provision printed on the passport by default. ECR means “Emigration Check Required” whereas ECNR means “Emigration Check Not Required”. Obtaining a passport in India is easy and, if one understands all the rules and regulations well and follows the guidelines religiously, a passport may be obtained without any difficulty. VISA – A citizen of one country, wishing to enter another country, generally must first obtain a visa - either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. To begin with, your application for a visa will not be entertained by the embassy of a particular country if your passport does not permit you to travel to that country. Further most embassies require that your passport must not expire during the period you plan to be in their country. This is simply because a passport is viewed as a valid international travel document. The type of visa one must have for a particular country is defined by immigration laws of that particular country, and relates to the purpose of travel. Having a valid visa only allows you to travel to a port-of-entry (airport, for example; or could be a sea-port). It simply allows an international carrier (airline or ship) to let you board it and go to the destination. You may undertake travel only while the visa is valid. Once it expires, you can’t board an international carrier. However, at the port of entry, a permission of the immigration officer has to be received by the traveler in order to enter that country. This permission may be called a permit. The immigration officer issues a permit for a particular period of time, say two months, after which the traveler is required to either get it extended or leave the country. Most countries welcome visitors to their country and obtaining a visa is generally a very pleasant experience if the necessary documentation is done in a professional manner. Article Contributed By :