This article reviews four of the best online visa services companies and shares how to get a visa quickly so you can travel worry-free.
My spicy relationship with Visa Services goes way back to 2008.
That year, Brazil was calling my name and as you know, once the idea of a trip takes hold, it’s tough to shake.
My mind went into a travel frenzy and my buddy and I booked tickets without much planning or thought.
There was a good bit of lead-time. In the immortal words of Alfred E. Neuman, “What me worry?”
The problem was that we both got busy and procrastinated on doing the things we should have done BEFORE we even booked flights.
We had no idea we needed a special Visa to go to Brazil and realized we might be totally screwed.
At the time I had no way of knowing that this trip would change my life forever (I’ll share how in just a moment).
Thankfully an expedited visa services company made the trip possible.
Before heading out on a big international trip, it’s important to make sure all of your documents are in order.
For US citizens planning an international trip, a visa may be required for permitted entry into the country.
When visa applications get tricky, a visa services company can make sure you’re set and ready to go.
If you hate dealing with a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense and would rather have someone else take care of paperwork so you can focus on your trip, then visa services can be an amazing option for you.
Let’s take China, for example.
Unlike many countries, which grant access with a passport and stamp, China requires US citizens to do a bit more planning and noting of what the intended purpose of their visit is.
Simply put, the purpose of a visa services company is to make the process of obtaining the most applicable visa much easier for travelers. The company’s website lists the countries they cover, and walks users through the steps of applying for and obtaining the correct visa.
For a fee, of course. Typically, travelers will pay up to $200 for professional assistance obtaining a visa.
There are a number of visa services companies available. Some are better than others, and some offer assistance with many countries while some may specialize in as few as one.
In this article, we’re going to cover four of the prominent visa services companies and why you should or shouldn’t use them for your trip. But first, let’s dive a bit deeper into what exactly a visa services company is.
Why use visa services?
Visa services essentially take most of the paperwork out of applying for a visa to visit a certain country. For example, if you find yourself unsure of how to go about obtaining a visa for an upcoming trip. Or , if you just want to make sure everything is filed correctly, visa services companies can do the work for you.
Visa services companies will make sure all required paperwork is filled out, signed, and delivered to the proper place. Passport photos will be checked for faults, and their staff is there to answer any questions that you may have.
These companies also often handle tasks such as renewing your passport and handling any international mail required for your visa.
Always research how long you’ll be allowed to stay in each specific country.
If you plan to stay longer than allowed or do things like obtain employment while in the country or go to school, specific visas are required in most cases. Visa services companies can help you identify and apply for the correct visa.
Visa services can also help expedite the visa process. If you’re crunched for time like I was before my Brazil trip, you might not have another option.
What you need for online visa services
- Quality scanned photo of your passport. Make sure everything on the photo page is showing: full name, birth date, passport expiration date, barcode, etc.
- Passport photo in digital format. You can use a mobile app such as Passport Photo Booth to take this photo. Find a plain white wall to use as background. Be sure to follow all directions specifically otherwise your photo may be rejected.
- Be prepared to mail your passport to the visa services company’s office. They will handle any domestic or international mailing and preparing of the passport that is needed – basically, you won’t have to wait in line at, or mail your passport to, the consulate of the country you intend to visit in order to obtain a visa.
Situations when you don’t need visa services
Using a visa services business is not necessary for tourism-based trips to any country that offers a visa on arrival, or doesn’t require a visa for citizens of your country.
Visa on arrival simply means that a visa can be bought or obtained at the customs booth upon arrival at the international airport or border crossing of your destination country.
It’s important to note that the length of stay allowed on a VOA varies by country. If you’re coming for a quick visit and then moving on, a VOA (if offered) will do you just fine. In these cases, you’re safe without using a visa services company.
If you are comfortable handling the application directly through the consulate website and mailing your passport, the process can be done by yourself.
Be sure to read up on not only the consulate website but travel boards and forums as well, just to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Here are the top 4 visa services companies based on our research.
VisaHQ.com is one of the leading online visa services companies. Their network is extensive – they offer the most comprehensive collection of visa applications and information available online. They also walk users through the process for most countries, removing much stress from the shoulders of anxious travelers.
Their website is simple to navigate and generally does a good job of answering questions before they need to be asked. Anyone who’s done extensive international travel can attest to how stressful it can be to find information about certain countries. VisaHQ does a great job of simplifying information and presenting it in a way that won’t cause an anxiety attack.
For example, they have an entire page dedicated to Schengen Visas. Another features a map that outlines every country and whether or not a business visa is required for US citizens.
They also partner with World Nomads travel insurance, which satisfies the requirement of those visas that require travel insurance.
Residents of New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, or Los Angeles can apply in person by visiting the VisaHQ office in those cities.
VisaHQ is, all things considered, the most thorough visa services company available.
The best part of Travisa’s website is the feature right on the homepage which allows visitors to immediately check to see if they need a visa for their trip.
They provide options for tourist, business, missionary, and others with immediate answers about what is needed to enter the country. They then walk users through the application process with detailed instructions.
Generally, their offerings are comprehensive and simple. They offer much the same visa services as VisaHQ, and also can assist with obtaining a US passport in a crunch. They offer information on immunizations, weather, and any travel warnings issued by the US government.
The website is simple to navigate, and they’ve even got a mobile app (how modern!).
They have offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. for in-person services.
Passportvisaexpress.com doesn’t have the bells and whistles of VisaHQ, but their visa services are proficient and accurate. They help travelers identify which visa they need, how to go about obtaining it, and simplify the whole process from start to finish.
The site is very easy to navigate and find exactly what you’re looking for. They offer Priority Overnight shipping upgrades for free shipping via FedEx, saving users a few bucks. Their fee is $200 on top of the visa fee – it’s nice that they are straight up about that and let you know right away.
Rushmytravelvisa.com is good at exactly what the name suggests – hurrying the visa services process. If you’re in a pinch and need a visa quick, this site gets it to you as fast or faster than anyone else on the web.
Again, you’re not getting a website with all of the extensive information that VisaHQ provides. One thing that is really nice about their site is that they prominently list the embassy fee for each visa they can assist with. This is something that takes a bit more digging with the other companies.
Their services are built around getting you, the user, a visa and getting you on the road. Tracking an order is easy, as is getting started with the application process.
Visa services: The final line
Visa services are not always necessary. But for countries lacking a Visa-On-Arrival, they make the process a lot easier.
If you are going somewhere last minute you might need a rush visa service to get things done.
Back to my Brazil trip…I am so grateful that the expedited visa service came through and I was able to secure the required documents to visit Brazil because I ended up meeting my wife on that trip!
We got married in her home country of Norway in 2014. Life is crazy like that isn’t it?
Peace of mind goes a long way in international travel. Fortunately, that’s exactly what visa services are perfect for.
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