A visa is a permit allowing you to visit a foreign country for travel, work, school, or even to establish a permanent residence. Your intentions while in the nation determine what type of visa you need.
Your passport is not a visa, although you do need your passport to acquire a visa and enter another country.
Basic Visa Types
Tourist Visa (most common visa)
A tourist or travel visa allows you to visit a country for a specific period. The period depends on the country you're visiting and is subject to the whims of immigration. Immigration agents can decide if they will allow you to visit for the maximum period allowed, just a few days, or not at all. Some countries automatically give tourist visas at the border depending on treaties, while other nations require that you apply for a visa ahead of time through a country's embassy with permission given for you travel before you leave your home country.
The transit visa is needed when you must travel through one country that requires an advance travel visa to reach another. The average transit visa is three days.
A student visa permits students registered in a foreign university the right to stay and live in the country while the student is in school. Student visas are applied for at the country's embassy after acceptance to the school is received.
Work visas allow a person to work in another country and are applied for after securing work in the other country. Work visas are only good for the contracted amount of time, after which the person must return home.
Residence visas allow a person to stay and live in a country providing he or she have the means to support his or herself. Proof of income and health care are general requirements of a residence visa. In many countries, if a person stays in the state on a residence visa for a set number of years, he or she can apply for permanent citizenship allowing him or her to become a legal functioning citizen of the society.
Diplomatic visas are for government employees. They allow employees or representatives of one country entry into other countries for the sole purpose of pursuing foreign relations in the country.
Business visas are given to companies who are seeking to establish a work presence in another country. Or for an individual or organization who is partnering with a company within a nation.
Spousal or Family Visa
The marital or family visa allows the members of a worker to join and live with him or her in a country where he or she is working. Family members entering under a spousal or family visa can live and go to live and go to school in the country. Sometimes these permits also give family members the right to work while living in the country as well.
Working Holiday or Gap Year Visa
The working holiday or gap year visa applies to young people, mostly under the age of 30, the right to travel and work in a foreign country/s. In a few cases, the working holiday or gap year visa is not limited by age, such as the Irish working holiday visa, but limited to the person needing to be in school or have just graduated.