Everywhere in the world has its own travel rules and regulations, so the flexibility you’re granted while abroad will depend on your country of origin. For instance, US citizens are lucky to be able to travel to 117 countries without a visa, whereas those from Somalia and Syria can only travel to nine. However, even Americans still need pre-approved visas to enter some major territories, such as China, and passport power doesn’t guarantee that every application will be approved.
Chinese visa requests, for example, are handled by the embassy based in the country of issue. Even if you decide to process your application through a professional visa agent, the embassy makes the final decision and could reject or amend the terms of your visa, seemingly without reason. As well as this being very frustrating, and potentially causing big problems for your travel plans, you probably won’t qualify for a refund on your visa either.
To give yourself the best possible chance at acceptance, your application must be as strong as possible with no silly mistakes. Avoid making any accidental errors that could prove costly later by double checking all the details, and making sure none of these slip-ups appear in your paperwork before you send it off.
1. Showing an itinerary longer than a typical visa
Though some countries offer long visitor visas for travelers, many typical visas could be shorter than you’d like. However, presenting a longer itinerary could come back to bite you. For example, American tourists can visit Cuba for 30 days, then apply to extend the visa for an additional 30 days once they’re there. But if you send a 45-day itinerary to the Cuban embassy, and ask for a 45-day visa to match, odds are you’ll be rejected and made to reapply. Therefore, check how long you’ll be able to stay in your chosen country and make sure your itinerary follows these rules.
2. Providing an incomplete itinerary
If there are any gaps in your travel itinerary, it’s highly unlikely your application will be accepted. This is especially important if you’re planning a multi-country trip, as consulates will be expecting to see a sequence that begins and ends in your home country. For example, if you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia from the US, but also stopping off in Oman and Yemen, your itinerary should read US – Saudi Arabia – Oman – Yemen – US. Here is a good example of a simple visa itinerary you can use as a guide. If your own doesn’t follow this, consulates will delay your application and request additional documentation to fill in any blanks.
3. Sending an unsuitable passport
Unless you are traveling to a country accepting e-visas—documents that passport control officers can access electronically—your approved visa will be printed in your passport. For this reason, it’s vital your passport meets all the basic requirements at the time of your application. Firstly, it must be valid for the correct time period. For instance, to travel to Sri Lanka from the US, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the day you arrive in the country. Depending on where you’re flying, it must have either one or two blank pages where your visa will go. Your application could also be denied if your passport is in poor condition, such as having missing pages or a damaged cover.
4. Having no confirmed accommodation
As you’re not a citizen of the country, government officials need to know exactly where you’ll be staying while you’re there. If you haven’t planned this far ahead of your trip, it’s a good idea to delay your visa application until all of your accommodation is confirmed. Without evidence of a hotel reservation or an invitation from a host you’ll be residing with, the consulate has no proof that you’ll be staying where you say you are, and won’t provide your visa without the supporting documentation.
5. Inconsistent personal details
This may sound obvious, but anybody can make a typo. Check, check, and check again that all your personal details are correct and correspond to what’s in your passport. This is especially important if you’ve recently got married and now have a new surname, or perhaps even changed your nationality. If there are any inconsistencies, there’s no way your visa application will go through successfully.