There are several different kinds of visas required when doing different things in a country outside of your own country of citizenship. Travel, work and business are the most common reasons to have to apply for a visa. Each country has different requirements and different processes for different people when they apply for a visa–or even different rules about whether a visa application is needed at all.
Tourist Visa/Visitors Visa
Tourist visas are visas required by the host country to allow people to enter the country for visiting purposes. Regulations vary from country to country. Some will only grant a maximum 10-day stay with a long visa application process, while other countries have allotted Americans somewhere between a 30- and 90-day automatic visitor’s visa upon entry. Rules and regulations for a visitor’s visa can be found on the host country’s embassy website or on the U.S. State Department website.
A business visa is required for those planning on conducting business in the host country. This is not like a work visa. Business visas generally refer to a person coming into the country working for another company that is not located in the host country. This is useful for businessmen who are traveling for meetings in regard to negotiations, sales or research. Most countries will offer a business visa for entry into the host country that is similar to the length of time of a visitor’s visa. Make sure to check. Some counties still require Americans to go through an application process. Once again, check with the host country’s embassy website or the U.S. State Department website for further requirements.
Work Visa/Employment Visa
A work visa is issued by the host country in order to allow the visitor to work legally in the host country. The process is different for all countries, but the visa application process can take anywhere from 10 days to three months. Normal requirements are a valid passport (generally with at least one year left before expiration), additional passport photos, application, job contract/letter of intent and criminal background affidavit. Generally, applications must be filed in person at the local consulate or embassy. Also, most countries require that you not be currently in the host country while applying for a work visa. Exceptions for Americans include most EU counties, which will allow you to file for a work visa while in the country.
A transit visa is required by some countries that emphasize political security. The largest nations that require transit visas for Americans are Russia and China. Transit visas are required when you are landing in a country, and will be valid for a specified time period before you must leave. The stay must be primarily a waiting period for another plane, or to transfer to a train, bus or car. These transit visas generally are only good for three days, but this can be expanded depending on the method of travel you are using to leave the country. For example, Russia will expand the visa to 10 days if you are driving a long distance before you leave the country.
Single- and Double-Entry Visas
Single- and double-entry visas are types of visas that fall into all of the above categories. For example, you can have a work visa that is a single-entry, or a transit visa that is a double-entry. A single-entry means you can enter the country once, and a double-entry means you can enter the country twice. Generally, the application process is the same, but the application processing fee for double-entry visas are higher.