In many countries, a travel visa refers to a particular document that is issued by a country’s government and allows persons to travel to and from that country. In the United States, however, a travel visa is actually a passport. Thus, a travel visa is the official stamp or sticker that a person receives at another country’s border from their border patrol officials. 

In general, travel visas typically need to be obtained for each country that a traveler plans to enter. If granted, a travel visa will permit a person to enter a certain country and stay there for a specified amount of time. Once this period expires, however, the person will be required to depart from the country and will usually have to return to their home country. 

To learn more about the different types of travel visas that you can apply for to enter the United States, you should speak to an immigration lawyer for further advice. 

Is a Travel Visa the Same as a Tourist Visa?

The terms “travel visa” and “tourist visa” are often confused and used as if they have the same meaning. This is not true and a traveler should take care to remember their differences. Generally speaking, any type of visa document permits a person to travel in or out of a certain county. However, a tourist visa is an extremely specific category of visas under U.S. immigration law.

A tourist visa, also known as a visitor visa or a B visa, is a type of temporary visa that allows a traveler to enter the country for very particular reasons, including for business, pleasure, or to receive medical treatment. For instance, a nonimmigrant traveler would apply for a tourist visa if they needed to settle an estate, wanted to take an extended vacation, or had to get a surgical procedure done in the United States.

On the other hand, a travel visa refers to the stamp or sticker that is placed by a country’s border officials on a person’s passport upon entering a country. This is a general definition and is subject to frequent changes. This is also the current definition provided in the United States as of March 2021. It should be noted that this may not be true in other countries since many countries provide clear distinctions between a travel visa and a tourist visa.

Is a Travel Visa Always Needed?

As discussed above, the requirements for travel visas will vary widely from country to country. Although there is no overarching category of a travel visa in the United States, there are many specific types of visa that may be used to enter and return to the United States from another country.

In order to find out what type of visa a person needs before entering the United States, they should check with their country’s local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is usually the case that the kind of travel visa a person needs will be based on the reason they are visiting the United States. 

If a person fails to obtain a visa before coming to the United States, then they may be subject to serious legal consequences, such as losing their immigrant status or being removed from the U.S.

For persons traveling to other countries aside from the United States, the requirements will be set by the country to which they are traveling. Some countries may issue a visa upon arrival at their border, while other countries may not even require a travel visa at all. 

In most instances, regardless of the country, a person will need either a passport or some sort of government identification document to travel abroad and to return to their country of origin. 

What Are the Requirements for a Travel Visa?

As previously mentioned, the requirements to get a travel visa will vary based on the type of visa that a person is applying for as well as the requirements set by a particular country. Thus, it is very important that persons looking to secure a travel visa research and review the entry requirements of whichever country they plan on visiting. In general, some common travel requirements that may be found in more than one country can include:

  • Vaccinations and other shots: Some countries require that a person receive certain vaccinations before they travel to a particular country. This will help to immunize them against infectious diseases and reduce the chances of them spreading it to other citizens within that country or to other countries when they depart. Most countries also require that travelers get a flu shot before their trip.
  • Proof of citizenship: The majority of countries require travelers to show proof of citizenship and/or identification documents. This means that a person will need to have valid government identification documents, such as a passport, before they enter the United States or another country. This is true even for persons who are already citizens of the United States. They will need a passport to return. 

    • Some countries have guidelines that mandate that a traveler’s passport does not expire within six months from the date they depart a country to travel abroad. The United States happens to be one of the countries that has this requirement. Thus, travelers taking a trip outside of the U.S. would be wise to renew their passport before departing if they plan on returning to live or stay in the U.S.

      • Another passport requirement that may be found in some countries is that a person have at least three blank pages left in their current passport before traveling to other countries from the U.S.
  • Miscellaneous requirements: Countries may implement a number of different requirements, such as fingerprinting visitors upon entry, showing proof of a return airline ticket and hotel reservations, taking a picture of a traveler when they first arrive, demonstrating proof of health and/or travel insurance, giving a reason for why they are traveling to a certain country, showing proof of monetary funds for the trip, and so on. 

The above list is only a bare minimum of the types of travel requirements that an individual country may demand. Thus, if a traveler is unsure of what they must do to travel outside and then return to the United States, then they should speak to an immigration lawyer before they embark on their trip. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Travel Visa Issues?

It is essential that a foreign-born individual have a valid travel visa if they intend to travel to the United States from another country, or alternatively, travel abroad and then return to the United States. Otherwise, they could potentially jeopardize their current immigrant status and may be removed from the United States, depending on the severity of their violations of U.S. immigration regulations.

Thus, if you need assistance with applying for or renewing a travel visa, you should speak to an immigration lawyer for further guidance. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you fill out the necessary legal forms and submit them to the appropriate government agency. Your lawyer can also advise on how to apply for a travel visa on behalf of a family member. 

In addition, if your travel visa issue requires you to appear before an immigration law court, your lawyer will also be able to provide legal representation in court.