My visit to 50 countries around the world has taught me some useful basic tips about immigration, travelling, and vacationing abroad that I would love to share. Please note that I am not an immigration adviser and my suggestions are not a finality on the subject matter. These are just useful tips and nothing more. The list is also not completely exhaustive.
Today I will dwell on visit visas as a Nigerian.
1. Get an international passport. Whether you are ready to travel or not, this is logically the first step and it is usually the most important. Also, always ensure you renew it on time as no visa vignette can be placed on a passport due to expire in 6 months.
2. Contrary to what you think, you do you not need a lot of money to travel. This is because you do not have to stay in a fancy hotel or board an expensive flight. You can stay at a backpacker, Air bnb and buy budget flights on good websites. Also, visa application fees to some countries are very affordable and proof of funds required is way less than a million naira.
3. Read voraciously about other countries. There are chances if you read travel blogs and follow credible travel forums, you would know countries where you are highly likely to get visas for easily. Some countries are generally more welcoming to visitors than long-stayers.
4. Think outside English speaking countries. Your first trip must not be the US, Canada, or the UK. Non-English-speaking countries offer one of the greatest travel experiences and language is never a barrier. Visa approval is also faster sometimes. These countries also tend to have higher visa approval rates. For example, I got my Switzerland visa approved in 2 days; Japanese visa approved in 3 days. South Korean visa in 4 days and Philippines visa in 5 days.
5. Leverage on inter-country travel arrangements. Do you know with a valid US visa you can legally visit Mexico? Likewise, you can travel to Croatia if you have a valid Schengen visa? Also, you can legally enter Turkey with a valid Canadian, America and British visa? There are a few countries like this I know.
6. Travel in the off-peak season. Tickets are cheaper. The rush at the embassy is less and your chances of visa approval is way higher. September is not a good time to apply for visit visa.
7. Be intentional about the visa process. The more credible your documents are, the better and the higher the visa approval. As a rule, the more you can demonstrate your ties to Nigeria, the better your visa approval chances.
8. Know the countries you can travel to visa free. There are about 44 on the current list and some of them offer good tourism packages. Fiji for example is visa free for Nigerians. Planning a return flight to Fiji can give you the chance to visit some other countries legally.
9. When applying for visit visas, the shorter you intend to stay in a country, the more genuine your visa application is seen to be.
10. Kill two birds with one stone by taking advantage of long layover flights. There are several countries you can legally enter as a visitor with lay-over flights with your green passport. You can enter China, UAE and 8 other countries that I know. Some layovers entitle you to free accommodation, airport pickup and drop offs and free hot meals.
11. When applying to ‘hotcake’ countries like Australia, Canada, UK, having a travel history will always help your case. Even if it is within Africa, travel before applying to them. There could be exceptions to this rule but it usually demonstrates your ability to return to your home country.
12. If you are being assisted by an immigration agent, you MUST ensure you read the information submitted on your behalf. Countries like Australia, once you are refused a visit visa or any kind of visa, it will affect ALL your future applications. Generally, any visa refusal for any country will always be stated in all your future applications.
13. The key to visa interviews is adequate preparation. Most visa refusals are in face-to-face interviews are based on psychological assessment of the immigration officer. There are some questions you must be able to clearly and coherently answer.
© Okpaleke Francis