infoTECH Feature

March 27, 2019

Electronic visas - yay or nay?



As you may very well know, getting a visa is not as demanding as it used to be. If a few years back you had to a pay a visit to the nearest embassy of the country you wished to visit, now, in many cases, all you have to do is go online and apply for a visa there. There are government websites, as well as third-party companies, that provide this service so that you do not have to go anywhere.

Of course, for you to apply online, the country you want to visit must have adopted the electronic visa system, and you must be eligible for an online application process. We did not reach far enough so that everyone can apply for any visa. Nevertheless, more and more countries decide to enhance tourism, and releasing electronic visas are one of the measures to reach that purpose. Once tourists have a more convenient application process at hand, they are more likely to visit a particular country, and that country sees an increase in revenue. From where we stand, that is a win-win situation.

However, there is a question of safety. Electronic visas are effortless to get. But do you know what an online visa application implies? First of all, you need to check whether you meet all the requirements or not. It is usually a short list of items you need to put together before you apply. The requirements differ from country to country, but they are generally easy to meet. The most common thing you need is the passport. You cannot apply without one, and most of the times, the document must maintain its validity for at least another 6 months from the date of arrival in the country you wish to visit.

Other possible requirements include: digital photos, return flight tickets, proof of accommodation, proof of sustenance, means of online payment, and of course, an e-mail address. Some countries like to add to that list, but it is on a case-by-case basis.

One other thing you need to do when you apply online is to fill in an application form. You must provide all your basic information, which we can all agree that is sensitive. With that in mind, how likely are you to go for an electronic visa?

Fortunately, visa services, whether we are talking about government websites or third-party companies, have teams of people whose only job is to protect the data you provide. So far, there have not been notable incidents, so there is no reason to believe that the online application process is faulty and can lead to mishaps. You must think about the fact that nobody has anything to win from a data leak. Quite the contrary, actually. Would you use a service that has bad reviews or is known to have committed serious errors in the past? You would not.

The bottom line is that we say ‘yay’ to electronic visas. What is the alternative? A trip, that sometimes runs long, to an embassy where it is very likely to stand in line for hours only to fill in an application and provide a few supporting documents. It seems useless in this day and age. Online applications, on the other hand, are safe in the majority of cases, and you can do everything you are required to do from the comfort of your own home. You can apply at 2 AM while in your PJs if you want. Can an embassy top that? We don’t think so.



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