International travel is such a fun loving lively dream that everyone who loves traveling wanted to do more and more of it, but is it as easy as it sounds for everyone around the world?
I got my first opportunity to do a business trip to Europe in 2013. At that time I have no understanding or know-how to travel abroad, but with my curiosity I wanted to learn more and more about it. So like every other person, I started searching – watching you tube videos, blogs, articles but most of the success stories I read about were mostly from the people with a strong passport which I believe by default were already given the perks of International traveling. It was as if, they don’t have to worry about that first very foundation of it.
Today in my Indian passport, I have a valid tourist visas of US (10 years), Canada (5 years) & schengen (4 years) along with travel history of all strong visa checking countries like Japan, UK etc. Sounds like an easy-peasy? Well for some people this could be far fetched dream and for some people might not even know the essence of it (because all they need is to pick up the backpack and just hit these destinations anytime).
Indian passport at present is one of the weakest passports in the world, with bunch of only few Visa-free OR visa-on-arrival countries options, its even far more difficult to get a visa especially when you are applying in the developed countries. On top of it, every-time you apply for a visa the cost may vary anywhere from 90$-160$ which is also non-refundable if you get a refusal. (and yes there are so many people here who get refusals everyday).
And if you get a refusal on your passport, the credibility of your passport goes to rock bottom when you apply elsewhere next-time.
Besides, the amount of documentation that had to be arrange for any single application takes a load of time and efforts itself. A general thumb rule of documentation includes at least the following:
- Cover letter & Application form duly filed, signed with latest photos
- Salary slips (3-6 months)
- No Objection certificate from Employer (if you are employed)
- Bank statements (3-6 months)
- Income tax returns (2-3 years)
- old & Current passports and visa copies
- Confirmed Flight tickets (yes they have to be confirmed!)
- confirmed Hotel/accommodation bookings.
- Marriage certificate (if you are married)
- Detailed Itinerary plans
It varies a bit from applying country to country. But mostly some will require more than what is mentioned on the top list. There are some countries though which allows you to enter with valid US, UK, Japan, Schengen visas like Taiwan, Turkey, Philippines etc but it really doesn’t solve much of your travel needs.
The real question however, for people with weak passports is how to get long validity visas or how to increase the credibility of their passport, something I did for myself as I mentioned earlier!?
Honestly, as simple as it means, you have to travel more and more to maintain the best travel history. US is the only country which allows Indians to provide 10 years multiple entry visa at a cost of 170$-175$. It sounds expensive, but with the US visa, the credibility of your passport increases a lot. Afterwards, once you started to travel and apply visas in more and more countries, eventually you build a trust factor with your passport and so the journey becomes a bit easier later on.
But really you have to be a travel freak to get to that status. After getting about different 10-15 Schengen Visas stamps in the past 4-5 years (along with actual travel which were even more times) I was able to grab a 4 years long term tourist one but most of the people told me I was simply lucky.
For someone who loves traveling, they always found a way to work things out. I always try to see things from the positives side sometimes. Having a weak passport push me out of my comfort zone to find ways and learn new things everyday. It broadens the vision to see both the hard and easy sides of the travel and simply to appreciate what we get in life is best for us! 🙂
Do you have a strong or weak passport? Does visa applications play important role in your travel? Do take a moment to share you comments!