After a year of feeling impeded with quarantining, social distancing, border closures and travel restrictions, you may want to expand your horizons and experience living in a different country. Although it can seem like there are a lot of hoops to jump through; studying, working, volunteering or living abroad is an attainable goal as long as you map out what you need and make sure you accomplish it in a timely manner. When starting the planning process, consider this checklist of things to do before hopping on a plane and saying au revoir!
Prepare for your visa
Before starting the visa application, it's important to pinpoint what your goal is for living in this foreign country. There are different types of visas depending on what you will be doing in that country: a student visa, a tourist visa, a working visa, a business visa, etc. Since many visas need proof of documentation before being approved, first ensure you have a job secured, a school to attend or a program to participate in. If you are just planning on traveling to a country for a few months, you may still need a visa depending on the country. Preparing for your visa may take up to months, so give yourself time to do research before jumping right into applications.
Choose your visa!
Since each visa has a specific purpose, this also means there are certain requirements involved with each type. This is why it's important to have a direction behind your move abroad. This process can take a lot of time, so you have to prepared to start earlier than you think. A visa is defined as an official document that allows you an individual to enter a foreign country. This is usually stamped or glued to your original passport. Although there are many different visa types, it's easy to narrow it down if you know what you are going to do. Most likely it will be either a student visa, working visa, volunteeer visa or tourist visa. You can visit government websites or information sites that will help guide you in the right path and give you more in-depth information about what a visa is and which one is best for you.
Pick your destination
Now that you've decided what you are moving for, here's the fun part, choosing where to go! Obviously each country has different job opportunties, schools and programs so once again choose one that will make the most sense. Also do some investigating of average cost of living, wages and overall financial information about the countries you are interested in. After all, this is where you are going to be living and for some working, therefore you want to make sure this is feasible for your budget. Additionally, each country has their own visa guidelines and application requirements that you can find on the proper government websites. There also may be other routes to these visa application such as through a school, an employer or a program.
Compile the documents
If you have gotten through all of these prerequisites and your plan is underway, you can start filling out the application forms and assembling all of the documents and other requirements. Once again this will look different for everyone, so follow exactly what you find from reliable sources. Beyond the actual visa application, some of the other necessities may include providing passport information, a photograph, flight information and housing accomodations. There also may be other roadblocks if someone has a criminal record, are at a security risk, have a serious health condition or have serious financial complications. You may be able to send some of the forms electronically or some may only be my mail. There are different fees regarding visas according to each country. Double-check everything before sending off any documents!
Post application steps
Once you have filled out all the required forms and documentation, you may be asked to have a visa interview. Some visas are either approved or denied without an interview, however the visa officer may request one. This usually involves a series of questions that will ask about the purpose of your travel, why you are wanting the visa at this particular time, if you are travelling with anyone else, if you have a criminal record, how long you will be staying, where you will be staying, if you have booked your airline tickets, if you have health insurance, if you are currently employed and when you planning on returning. After all of these steps are completed, it is now in the hands of the country you are visiting to process your visa! This can take anywhere from eight days to five weeks. Once again check the governement website of your destination country to give yourself enough time before your trip.
The visa application process can seem overwhelming and excessive, but it is only to ensure that your travels are the most safe and secure as possible. There may seem like a lot of information all at once, but once you break it down step-by-step and give yourself enough time to complete each step, there are no reasons to have anxieties about this process. Living and traveling abroad can seem like a lofty vision, however if it something you are really determined to do, life is short not to try.