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Visa: obtaining issues, ukrainian view

Dmitry Dvornik


Probably each of us remembers fabulous time from childhood when you could just close your eyes and secretly go to any country from dreams with no borders and obstacles. But it remained in the past. Now we are grown ups, everything is different, nobody will be surprised that if you want to go on holiday to country of your dreams, first of all you need passport and another very important document that will provide right of unimpeded entry. I will try to give you some information about this document.

Probably everyone has heard the word "visa", but maybe not everyone knows what it means. So, dear reader, let's go back a bit in history. Visas began to be used very actively after World War II to control and reduce migration flows, maintaining security in country, as well as for tracking enemy agents. Before this visa, which was a small piece of paper, used very formally, was published in almost all the countries at border areas and had character of foreign citizens’ registration with no real prohibition of entry. Wikipedia states that visa is an authorization document, which entitles person to cross certain boundaries that is actually allowed to travel to another country. Visa is usually glued in passport with your photo or without.

Typically, migration control in countries that have signed agreement on visa-free regime, is not canceled, but in countries which are in visa unions (eg, the EU), there is no migration control and one can travel without hindrance. Yet June 14, 1985 Schengen agreement was signed about abolition of passport and visa control on of some countries’ borders in the European Union. Originally it was signed by Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, March 26, 1995 it came into force, and May 1, 1999 was supplemented by the Schengen acquis in the EU. Lets remind states belonging Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany (without Büsingen am Hochrhein), Greece (without Athos), Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Spain, Italy (without Levigno enclave), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway (excluding Svalbard and Bear Islands), Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia. But the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania are still outside Schengen, although these countries are EU members. Ukraine is not EU member and not member of the Schengen Agreement.

We are done with agreements and "Schengen", so it’s time to move to our visa. First, lets find out which variations exist. So, dear reader, there are following types of visa: transit visa, tourist visa, business visa, work visa, visa for family reunion, student visa, diplomatic visa, journalist visa, visa for registration of marriage, immigration visa, e-visa. All these above varieties include exit, but still there was a practice issuing visas even for leaving the country. Such was in the fascist Italy and Germany during the Second World War, but still remains in some post-Soviet countries such as Uzbekistan and Armenia.

Visas also are divided into one-entry and multi-entry. Anyone who was in Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia, remembers how in airport they pasted a small piece of paper in your passport, which gives right to stay in country for 30, 60 or 90 days. Here is an example of one entrance, which specifically states term of stay in country and is immediately available at the airport. And what do you do if you are going to the European Union and the Schengen states, that fabulous journey to country of your dreams has not ended, even before it started? It is important to prepare for this in advance. Perhaps you have a question, what about those who do not even know where to start. So, first, you must decide and choose the country to which you've always wanted to go on vacation, but still did not dare. Second, take your passport and carefully check its validity, that is, the period to which it is valid, and if till end of it is less than 180 days, you should immediately get a new passport, otherwise nobody will accept documents for visa applications.

If your passport is good, its duration is normal, then head to consulate of the country where you intend to go. Now every civilized European country has opened many Visa Center providing useful information, a list of all documents required for successful opening of visa. Why I wrote successful because perhaps you've heard of such thing as denial of visas (and sometimes that happen). So, to prevent this, collecting documents should be taken very carefully, responsibly. Usually there is nothing unusual or impossible in list to open Schengen visa, as a rule, it is a standard set for almost all Schengen countries and the European Union. According to list you will be asked to submit certificate from your employer stating salary, position held, and a mandatory sentence in certificate that your position remains after you during holidays. There is nothing unusual in that certificate, it must be on the letterhead of organization or company where you work, and some consulates even ask this certificate to be translated into language of the country where you intend to go. Of course, you may wonder why another country needs this certificate? In fact European Union study all documents very carefully and just want to see that your monthly payment allows you to pay all costs, that you have money to buy tickets for tour and stuff.

In addition to information on wages you will be asked to submit bank certificate, if you have an account, showing balance. It is only necessary to see that you have money to live, stay, eat and will not beg. If you do not have an account, I advise you to buy travel checks in any bank – those are checks of different denomination in euros or U.S. dollars considering 100 euros per day, make photocopies of checks and add them to documents package that will be submitted for visa. It happens that the EU, especially for post-soviet countries sets such weird conditions and worries that we'll have money to travel and stay abroad, because, of course, without property proof, immediately raises question about purpose of trip and for what you at all are going to the European Union.

If you have proof of ownership of real estate, car, land, then to confirm your property situation you can easily add them to your documents. Of course, you may ask why you need to provide such information. I answer this - the European Union really want to see that there come people who have money in account, real estate owned, stable salary, position, that you have intention to return back home that you do not plan to stay as illegal immigrant and do not intend to commit crimes or riots or something immoral, against regulations and EU laws. Of course, do not forget to take a photo for visa of 3.5 to 4.5 cm. Usually all photo studios know size of photos, and if you say you need a photo for Schengen visa, they’ll understand.

When you collect all documents according to the list, feel free to go to consular department or Visa Center, but before that I advise you to find addresses online for visa centers and consulates or embassies. There are also documents required for type of visa on their official site, and if necessary, you can fill in on-line application form, make an appointment with consul or simply consult on any matters relating to visa. After submitting visa applications, they will check them carefully in front of you, that any problems or "surprises" did not happen later. If something is wrong with any document, they will tell you about it and ask to redo it or replace. Some visa centers, consulates can ask about purpose of your trip or if you are going to see anyone.

I almost forgot: if you have a friend or friends living abroad, and if they will write you an invitation, then add it to documents, it will be only a benefit. Usually invitation is written in any form, stating acquaintance, purpose of travel, where you will live, and, of course, that you get home in time and do not intend violating any laws.

Here is a finishing stage, documents are submitted, and your passport along, you just have to wait. Typically, timing consideration ranged from two weeks to a month. On consulates websites you can even see result of consideration of documents or request courier service to delivery passport for you personally. If you have done everything required by country you are going, definitely there will be visa in your passport, but if denied, do not be upset, and try again. The most important thing in collecting visa applications is to comply with all conditions according to list that you received. Unreliability of data or falsifying documents in order, as you think, to improve your documents for visa can be make a bad joke with you, that’s why do only what the law requires, and do not invent something.

Dear reader, I still hope that provided information is useful. Of course, there is much to tell and explain about visa issue. I wish success and luck to everyone who is in process of obtaining visa or just thinking about it, and remember: wherever you go, be respectful and law-abiding and obey traditions of country where you are, be polite and bring and tell with dignity about culture of Ukraine. And know this: dreams from childhood about journey to country of your dreams always come true.

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