Ke Huang-Isherwood Article

Getting a Visa to Visit Another Country

If you wish to travel to another country for a vacation, you may need a tourist visa. Visas are documents added to your passport giving you permission to visit another country. Each country has its own laws about what prospective visitors need to do to apply for a tourist visa, how long visitors can visit for, and that could depend on the country of your passport. This article only focuses on people with a United States passport. The article first summarizes some countries where tourist visas are needed, countries where Americans can visit without a visa, and general tips on finding information about countries not mentioned here.

To get a visa, applicants most often need to work with the foreign country’s embassy or consulate offices. An embassy is the headquarters of an ambassador, the main foreign representative in the host country, which, for embassies in the U.S., are nearly all in Washington, D.C. A consulate is an office working under the ambassador, consulates are spread throughout the U.S. and are more convenient for those living farther from D.C.

Visa to Visit China

1. Complete the category F visa application and gather supporting documents.

2. Submit the application and documents at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. Arizonans should submit them to the Consulate General in Los Angeles.

3. Once everything is processed and approved, go to the Embassy or Consulate again to pay the visa fee and pick up your passport with the visa.

Hong Kong and Macao are special regions in China and Americans do not need a visa to visit there.

“Visa” to Visit the European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland

The E.U. and those 4 countries are called the Schengen Area. The E.U. is made up of 22 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. Currently, Americans do not need to get a tourist visa to visit any country in the Schengen Area. Starting 2021, the Schengen Area countries will start a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Although ETIAS is a visa waiver process, Americans will need to fill out an online application, gather supporting documentation, and pay a fee. More up to date details about ETIAS is available on this website:

Visa to Visit India

The Embassy of India partnered with the agency Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) to handle tourist visas.

1. Complete the online application for a Regular Visa and gather supporting documents.

2. Send the application and documents by mail with the payment or make an appointment at a CKGS Application Center. Arizonans who choose to make an appointment will visit the Application Center in San Francisco.

3. The payment will be made at the Application Center.;

4. After submitting the visa materials, the CKGS site will allow applicants to track their application status using this

Countries Where Visas Are Not Needed

Americans do not need to get a tourist visa to visit many countries. Still, each country has its own laws and it is highly recommended that before the visit you find out from the country’s government website the specifics. For example, how long you can visit the country without a visa, what supporting documents you need to bring with you, how is the border control process, etc.

Below are some of the counties visas are not needed for American tourists:

The Bahamas,



the Dominican Republic,





the Philippines,

South Africa,

South Korea,

and the United Kingdom.

General Tips on Finding More Information

If you wish to vacation in a country not mentioned above, start with searching the website of the country’s embassy in the U.S. Those websites tend to have an English-language version and are more up to date. On the embassy site, look for frequently asked question (FAQ) pages, which may tell you the requirements for tourists. Or, look for consular services pages, as visas are often handled by consulate staff.

Safe travels!

Contributing Attorney: Ke Huang-Isherwood is an attorney who is an independent legal and communication researcher.



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