Anyone who has official business in a foreign country and wants to represent their home country must apply for an official visa. This type of visa is issued especially if you are a government official. If you want to visit another country for other purposes, you must apply for a tourist or visitor visa.
What Are Official Visas?
Official visas are permits that allow you to enter a foreign country to fulfill a diplomatic mission. Usually, to qualify for an official visa, you must be a government official, a diplomatic worker, or an official representative of your country.
Official Visa Rules
While you are visiting a foreign country with an official visa, you have to keep in mind the following rules:
- You cannot work under an official visa (outside of your official duties).
- You cannot study with an official visa.
- You cannot apply for citizenship with an official visa.
Official Visa by Country
Here are some countries that issue official visas:
- US diplomatic visa. The United States issues several official visas depending on the purpose of your visit. The most common official visa in the US is the A1 visa for diplomats, consular officers, ambassadors, etc.
- United States G and Nato visa. In addition to diplomatic visas, the United States government also issues a G visa for visitors from international organizations, and a Nato visa for representatives from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
- Australia special purpose visa. This visa is issued to members of the Royal Famly, military officers, official guests of the Australian government, and their family members. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you don’t have to apply for the Australian special visa— you will be given the visa after entering the country.
- Canada diplomatic visa. Canada issues both a diplomatic and a courtesy visa— depending on your eligibility criteria. For both types of visas, you are only allowed to stay while you conduct your official business. The application fee for both of Canada’s official visas is CAD 100.
- Japan diplomatic visa. The Japanese diplomatic visa is also issued to those visiting Japan on official business on behalf of their country. The visa will be valid for the same time that it takes to complete the diplomatic activities.
- Mexico diplomatic visa. Mexico diplomat visa is available to those who have official state business in the country. However, you may be exempted from the diplomat visa depending on your nationality— make sure you check with the embassy or consulate.
Types of Official Visas
There are two main types of official visas:
- Diplomatic visa. Diplomatic visas are issued to people doing an official visit on behalf of their country in another foreign country. Usually, diplomatic visas accompany diplomatic passport holders. Please note that you still need an official visa to enter another country even if you have a diplomatic passport.
- Courtesy visa. This type of visa is issued to people who do not qualify for a diplomatic visa but are of high status and are special guests of a foreign government (military personnel, member of the Royal family, etc.).
Who Can Apply for an Official Visa?
You can apply for an official visa if you are:
- A diplomat.
- An ambassador.
- A foreign minister.
- Public officer.
- Military personnel.
- An official guest of a foreign government.
- A family member of any of the above.
Official Visa Application Process
To apply for an official visa, you need to prepare your documents, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements, and then submit your application to a foreign embassy or consulate in your home country.
However, you must keep in mind that some countries do not allow you to apply for an official visa on your own; for example, you can’t apply for Australia’s special purpose visa, but you are granted the visa when you enter the country.
Official Visa Requirements
You need the following documents for an official visa application:
- Your diplomatic passport.
- Passport-sized pictures.
- Valid travel health insurance.
- Bank statements proving you can finance your stay.
- An official statement from your home country detailing your diplomatic mission abroad.
Please note that your documents may require translation or verification with an apostille stamp.
Official Visa Processing Time
An official visa is usually issued the same day the application is lodged. But, this may take a few days, depending on the embassy’s workload.
Fees for an Official Visa
Fees for an official visa range between €100 to €200. But, some countries may issue the visa free of charge.
How Long Is an Official Visa?
An official visa is valid for the duration it takes to complete your official duties. As a result, your visa can be valid for weeks, months, or years.
Can I Bring Family Members With an Official Visa?
Yes, if you qualify for an official visa, you can bring your spouse/partner and children with you so they can accompany you while you finish your business.