There can be no doubt that visa requirements have complicated international travel. Once, within living memory, even passports were not needed to go abroad. Now obtaining a passport is often easy compared with getting a visa. This depends on the purpose of the visit to the foreign country. The visa requirements for a short tourist trip to another country may be so simple that the traveller is not aware that an application has been made or a visa issued. When the reason for the journey is to take up employment or permanent residence in the new country then the documentary requirements can be onerous, complex and take years to satisfy. Added to all of the problems with documents there is the natural frustration that seems to be common across all nations caused by dealing with what often seems to be unsympathetic bureaucracies.
Having a valid passport does not guarantee entry to any country. Because your own country knows a great deal about you a passport is, for other countries, a devalued document of identity. Official records, from birth, through schools, churches and other social establishments, from employment records and taxation information and including payments via banks to official and quasi-official bodies for water, electricity, local government charges, drivers' and other licenses, are comprehensive. Establishing identity, which is all that a successful application for a passport requires, other than payment, is simple for most people. Your country knows you and will give you a passport to prove it. Having this document will not necessarily mean a great deal to another country. It certainly will not guarantee you entry to a foreign country. You will need to fulfill the visa requirements to get the necessary document.
If you are refused a visa by a the government of a country then you will not be able to enter that place. Successfully complying with the requirements and obtaining a visa means only that you may approach the borders with optimism. The ultimate decision on allowing or denying entry rests with the immigration officer at the border post. That officer is in possession of all of the latest facts related to the admission of anyone to the country. Conditions may have changed since your visa was granted. A natural disaster may have occurred such as an earthquake, a volcanic eruption or a severe weather event which makes the entry of visitors too much of an encumbrance at the time. There may now be civil strife in the country. There may have been a coup d'etat. A state of war may now exist, not necessarily with your country of origin. It may be just that the government has changed and policies are now different from when your visa application was made. There is no way to argue about entry refusal even if you have an apparently valid visa.
A visa is an authorization given by the government of a country that a non-citizen may enter that country. It may be necessary to apply for it prior to arriving at the point of entry. Some visas are issued as separate documents, others are endorsements in a passport some may have no evidence of existence at all so far as the "holder" is concerned. A visa is usually issued for use within a specified time period. It may be granted for one entry or multiple entries. The reason for the visa will be clear. Perhaps the most common kind of visa is a tourist visa issued for a single entry. The simple purchase of a transport ticket to a country may include the supply of a visa by way of a system called a "visa waiver" process. Some countries permit this for citizens of favoured countries. Also for those from approved countries a visa may be issued at the point of entry without prior application. Some visas may allow multiple entries. A visa may be granted for the purposes of working in the new country or for residing for a long period or permanently in the country. In general the more complex the reason for requiring a visa and the longer the period for which it is wanted the more intricate and intrusive will be the visa application and the longer its granting will take. Also the higher will be the cost which is usually non-refundable even if the visa is not granted
A passport application is merely providing your government with information about yourself that it already has. Visa requirements need to supply to a government that does not know you at least the same and probably many more details about yourself. The complicating factor is that the burden of proof of the veracity of the information rests with you. An added problem is that, often, documents have to be translated into the language of the new country. Documents must usually be originals or be at least re-issued by the authority which provided the documents in the first instance. Legally certified true copies may be required and in some cases apostillisation is necessary. This process is an international version of domestic legal notarization. After all the appropriate original, notarized and apostillized documents have been provided it will then be for the embassy or consulate of the country (in the applicant's own country) to which application is being made to authenticate all submitted papers. It is easy to see why it takes years for the issue of some visas.
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