Passport and visa are two necessary travel documents that are necessary to procure while traveling abroad. However, there are many travelers who are confused with the difference between a passport and a visa. Without further ado, let’s explain the difference between a passport and a visa.

Difference between a Passport and a Visa

The difference between a passport and a visa are as below:

What is a Passport?

A passport is an official document that is issued by a competent public authority of a country to its citizen. A passport holder can cross any international border or port of the country, without any difficulty or delay.

The government issues a passport to its citizens when it does not have any objection for the person to leave his/her country. It is also a document of the highest legal order.

Further, it is issued in the name of the country, i.e. the president/chancellor/king, etc. It is a booklet that the Ministry of External Affairs with the help of the Ministry of Home affairs issues to its citizen or holder. The passport is the holder’s international identity which shows the holder’s national status in the world.

In order to go abroad, every passenger must possess a passport or other official documents of identity. These documents establish the bearer’s identity and nationality and authorize them to travel outside their own country. In short, we can say that it is permissible to pass the port.

A passport contains a photograph of the holder, and bear endorsements and visa/tourist permits required for the journey.

It is on the basis of this document with its endorsement that a national of a country is permitted to leave his/her country for a certain period of time, for an entry into a foreign land and various purposes.

It is also vital to know that a passport does not ask for religion, caste, or creed but only for the place of origin of the individual.

Usually, it indicates the countries for which they are valid, or that they are valid for all countries. If a passport is valid for most countries, expecting a few, the latter will be listed separately.

Who Issue a Passport?

The public authorities competent to issue passports and other documents of identification vary from one country to another. Outside the country of residence, the diplomatic or consular offices representing the country concerned can issue these documents.

Who can have a passport?

Any citizen of the country can apply for a passport and if the government has no objection to issuing him/her the same, then the external affairs ministry will issue him/her a passport. While applying, the holder must be the citizenship of the country whose passport has been applied for.

How to obtain a Passport and country citizenship?

It is important to know that a person can hold only one passport at a time. However, nowadays, there are some countries that are offering dual citizenship, for example, India.

A person can claim a passport and the citizenship of a country on the basis of the following six conditions:

By Birth

A person can obtain a passport by birth. It means if a person is born in a particular country, that person has the right to obtain citizenship and a passport. For example, if Mrs. X, who is an Indian citizen, gives birth to a child in the USA, then the child would automatically get American citizenship.

Through Parents

One can get the citizenship of parents by natural course.

By Normalization or by Application

If a person settles in a particular country for many years and then wishes to have citizenship of that country, he/she would receive citizenship only after the fulfillment of all government procedures.

For example, a person enters the USA on a student visa and continues his/her studies. After his/her stay in the USA for 10 years, he/she applies for a green card and then applies for citizenship.

Political Asylum

Political asylum is only for extraordinary situations, especially for those who have become victims of political/social problems.

For example, during the Fascist regime, many Jews fled from Germany and took shelter in the USA, and were given political asylum.

The United Kingdom gave political asylum to the famous writer Salman Rushdie.

Even Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen is under political asylum in India. As these people live in danger in their respective countries, so other countries give political asylum to these people.

Through Marriage

If one of the spouses holds different citizenship then if the other spouse wishes, he/she can get the spouse’s citizenship.

For example, Mr. X from India goes to the USA and then marries Ms. Y, who is an American citizen, then if Mr. X wishes he could get American citizenship or vice versa.

Citizenship by Honour or Invitation:  This kind of citizenship is for a very extraordinary person. For example, when Neil Armstrong returned from the Moon, many countries honored him by giving their citizenship.

Types of Passport

There are three types of passports in India. They are as follows:

Ordinary or Normal Passport

The ordinary or normal passport is for the ordinary citizen of India. The color of the passport is dark blue.

Official Passport

The official passport is for government officials or other persons who travel on government missions. The color of the official passport is white or grey.

Further, a red-color passport is for the persons holding diplomatic or consular status as per international law and customs.

Although most people will travel with a passport, it should be noted that other travel documents can also be used in lieu of a passport. These documents are valid for limited countries and purposes.

Therefore, it is always necessary to check carefully whether such documents are recognized by the country of the passengers’ destination and transit, even if such documents bear an endorsement for such countries. The travel agent should contact the issuing authority to check that it can be used for any travel arrangements.

Documents Necessary while Applying for a Passport

Nowadays applying for a passport has become easier as the applicants can apply online. Apart from this, the applicant can also submit the form directly to the respective passport office/district passport centers.

Along with the application form, the applicant needs to submit the following documents:

Photograph:  It requires three recent passport size photographs in color showing the full frontal view. Black and white photographs, photographs with colored or dark glasses or uniform.

Kindly note that Polaroid prints are not accepted.

Address Proof: Photocopies of the first and last page of ration card, election card, telephone bill, electricity bill, bank account statement, a certificate from employer of a reputed company on the official letterhead, gas connection bill, or water bill that bear the applicant’s address details.

Date of Birth: This is necessary if the applicant is a citizen of India by registration or naturalization.

Identity Certificate: Government, public sector, and employees of statutory bodies should submit their identity certificate in original.

No Objection Certificate: This should be submitted in original if the person applying is a government employee.

Affidavit/Marriage certificate: This certificate is necessary to change the name on the passport after marriage.

Letter of Authority:  Required for travel agents.

Supporting Documents: These documents are necessary as proof for the Emigration Clearance Not Required (ECNR) status.

What is a Visa?

A visa is an entry made by the consular official or government in the passport or other travel document, which indicates that the bearer has been granted permission to enter the country concerned.

It generally mentions the length of stay, the period of validity, and the number of times a person can enter a country (Single or Multiple Entry), during that period.

It is issued for single entry or multiple entries. A single entry visa will not be valid if it has been used once, even when the validity date has not been expired.

In the case of multiple entry visas, their validity expires on the date of expiry. The date of the entry stamp is imprinted on the passport when a person arrives in the country concerned. It is a permit that allows a citizen of one country to enter another country for a designated period and for specific purposes. It is issued in the form of an endorsement or rubber stamp on a passport. Therefore, it is necessary to submit the passport at the time when a person applies for a visa.

Some countries do not stamp a visa into the passport but issue them in loose form. In this case, no record appears in the passport.

A visa is normally obtained from the embassies and consulates of the country to where travel is intended. If there is no representative in the country to issue a visa, it may be essential to send the passport abroad in order to obtain it.

In this case, the applicant should have legal status in the country from which he/she applies. If the person who requires the visa is not a resident or citizen of the country, then it may be necessary for that person to obtain the visa on arrival.

For some countries, it is essential that the citizens of other countries obtain a visa prior to arrival in their country. In some countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Mauritius, it can be obtained on arrival in the country.

What are the types of Visa?

There are many types of visas and different countries may call these by different names. Therefore, some of the different types which are common are:

Transit Visa:

Usually valid for three days or less, for passing through the country to a third destination.

Tourists’ visa:

for a limited period for leisure travel, no business activity allowed. Some countries do not issue tourist visas; Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas only in 2004 but issues pilgrimage visas for Hajj Pilgrims.

Business visa:

For engaging in commerce in the country. A work visa is required for permanent employment.

Temporary worker visa:

For approved employment in the host country. Generally more difficult to obtain but valid for a longer period of time than a business visa. Examples of such visas are H-1B and L-1 Visas in the USA.

On-arrival visa:

Granted immediately on entering a country at the airport or border control post.

Spousal visa:

Granted to the spouse of a resident or citizen of a given country, to enable the couple to settle in that country.

Student Visa:

Allows its holder to study at an institution of higher learning in the country of issue. However, some countries such as Algeria, issue tourists visa to students.

Working holiday visa:

For individuals traveling between nations offering a working holiday program, allowing young people to undertake temporary work while traveling.

Diplomatic visa:

Sometimes it is also popular as an official visa. It is available exclusively to diplomatic passport holders. It confers the diplomatic status on its holder.

Courtesy visa:

it is issued to representatives of foreign governments or international organizations who do not qualify for diplomatic status but do merit expedited, courteous treatment. A courtesy visa does not normally confer privileges or immunities.

Journalist visa:

Some countries such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, etc. insist that journalists when traveling for their respective news organizations have a valid visa.

Fiancée Visa:

Granted for a limited period prior to marriage based on a proven relationship with a citizen of the destination country. For example, an Indian woman who wishes to marry an American man would obtain a fiancée visa to allow her to enter the USA.

Immigrant visa:

Granted to those intending to migrate to the issuing country. They are usually issued for a single journey as the holder may be issued a permanent resident identification card permitting him an unlimited entry in the issuing country.

What are the documents necessary to apply for a visa?

Given below are the general requirements of documents, applicable for obtaining a visa:

  • Original passport valid for a minimum of six months from the expiry of the visa
  • Latest passport size photograph
  • Visa form duly filled and signs as per the signature in the passport by the applicant
  • Overseas Medi-claim policy valid for the total period of travel
  • Foreign exchange, to be endorsed in the passport, or copy of an international credit card
  • Covering letter on company letterhead mentioning the applicant’s name, designation, purpose, and also the duration of visit
  • Covering letter from the applicant stating purpose and duration of the visit (for tourism purposes)
  • For partnership companies, partnership deed to be enclosed
  • For Pvt Ltd Co, the memorandum and articles of association
  • Original income tax papers for the last three years
  • Original bank passbook/bank account statement for a minimum of three months
  • Property papers
  • Fixed deposit certificates
  • Also, no objection certificates if working in a government organization
  • Form 16A, salary slip, or TDS for salaried persons
  • If the person is retired then a retirement letter and pension proof
  • Marriage certificate, wedding card, or photograph of marriage for newly wedded couples
  • No objection certificate from parents if a minor accompanying other than parents
  • Bonafide certificate/identity card from the school if students
  • ECNR status
  • No objection certificate letter from husband/father for ladies traveling alone.

A fee as applicable needs to be paid. If a person is traveling for the first time, the consulate may insist on a personal interview. The regulations of a visa are different for each country. Therefore, these should be checked by the applicant from the embassy/consulate.

What are the reasons for Visa refusal?

An applicant may be denied a visa if he/she

  • Committed fraud or misrepresentation in the application
  • A person who does do not have any permits or reason to travel to another country.
  • Does not have lodging in the destination country
  • Has no visible means of sustenance
  • Has not arranged his/her transportation
  • Does not have valid health/travel insurance for the destination and the duration of stay.
  • Also, a person who has a criminal record or has criminal charges against him.
  • Is considered to be a security risk
  • He has his/her prior visa application rejected
  • Is a citizen of a country with whom the host country does not have an amicable relation
  • Has previous immigration violation
  • Has a communicable disease
  • Is in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

What is Schengen Visa?

The Schengen states include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and also Sweden.

Thus, the Schengen is an arrangement between these member states of the European Union (EU), to remove immigration controls for travel within and between these countries. This borderless region is popular as the Schengen Area. The Schengen Agreement was created on 26th March 1995.

Types of Schengen Visas:

There are four types of Schengen Visas. Ther are as follows:

Type A: Airport transit visa :

This is necessary for those nationals who cannot use the TWOV facility at all, as they are in direct transit in a Schengen country when arriving and are departing from/to non-Schengen countries. The passengers in general, cannot leave the airport.

Type B: Transit visa:

It is for passengers who are making a transit in the Schengen territory, exceeding the allowed transit time, and for passengers who are transiting in more than one Schengen country.

Type C: Short period visa:

(Maximum three months) This is the common Schengen visa. So, it is issued by one of the fifteen states and is valid for all others.

Type D: Long-period national visa:

It is issued for a longer period or for other special cases that are issued by an individual Schengen state on a national basis. This particular visa is valid for the country of issue only.

When applying for either a Type B or Type C visa for visiting/transiting for only one Schengen state, then an application should be made at the consulate or the embassy of that country. When the passenger has to apply for several Schengen states, the application should be made at the consulate or the embassy of the country which is the main destination of the visit. In case of application of several Schengen states and not having a main destination, the application has to be made at the consulate or embassy of the country which is the first point of entry into the Schengen states. If the above regulations while applying are not complied with, then there is a possibility of refusal of entry and also an investigation by the immigration officers.

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