July 10, 2020

Passports And Visas – International Travel Rules For U. S. Citizens

When leaving the United States, there are two things travelers usually need– passports and visas. While visas are sometimes unnecessary, depending on what country you are going to and where you are coming from, a passport is essential. For entry into other countries, and for reentry to the US, you will need to be able to show your passport.

Make sure to leave enough time when applying for a passport. While there are expedited ways to leave the country if there is a life or death emergency in your immediate family overseas, there is generally no other way to get your passport in less than three weeks. And three weeks is the current processing time for an ‘expedited’ passport. Regular service takes about twice as long.

On the government’s passport website, you will find instructions on applying for a passport, what you can do to expedite the process, and the current processing time for expedited and regular passports. A passport does expire, in 5 years if you were less than 16 years old when you got it, or in 10 years if you were 16 or older, so be sure to renew it if you are planning travel close to the expiration date.

Though this was not always the case, all children are now required to have their own passport to travel internationally by air. This includes newborns. There may be times when a child does not need a passport to cross an international border by sea or land, and you can read about these exceptions on the website.

If you have a passport that is undamaged and less than 15 years old, you may renew it by mail. Follow the instructions on the government website. You must have been at least 16 when the passport was issued, and your name must be the same, or you must have legal documentation regarding your name change. If you do not meet all of these conditions, you have to renew your passport in person.

A visa is a document, or endorsed stamp that grants entry into a foreign country. In the back of your passport book are blank pages. This is where your visa stamp will be issued, in most cases, though some countries supply a separate document that serves as your visa.

Having a visa does not usually give you any specific rights. It can be revoked at any time, and does not guarantee you entry into the country. The purpose is for the country granting the visa to verify your identity, and deny your request to enter before you travel, if you do not meet their requirements.

There are different types of visas that may be granted, depending on your purpose in the country. For instance, student visas allow entry into the country for the purposes of studying at an educational facility, and sometimes allow part-time work to be obtained while enrolled. Tourist visas require that no business be done while in the country, and are for leisure activities only. A travel visa is given if you are only spending a few days or less in the country, while in transit between two other countries.

Work permits and additional documentation is usually required to stay in the country after a certain period of time, or to become employed. The documents are separate from a visa, but are unlikely to be granted if you do not have a valid visa. The importance of having your documents in place is hard to overstate, so be prepared and get started well before your planned travel time.

For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passport