A travel visa allows you to enter into a foreign country for a specified amount of time. There are many foreign countries where no visa is required in order to visit. Some that do require an entry visa issue it upon the visitor’s arrival. If and when you need a visa depends on your destination and the type of visa you need whether for tourism, business, work, study, transit or permanent residence.
If a travel visa is one of the foreign entry requirements for the places you plan to visit, you need to obtain it from the appropriate embassy or consulate office. Most foreign consular representatives are located in major cities of the United States such as New York, Houston and Los Angeles. There are a large number of embassies in Washington, DC. Some countries allow you to apply for a visa by mail while other require a personal appearance. (If you choose to apply by mail, allow sufficient time for processing the application.) As soon as you receive your travel visa, it is important to check it to make sure no mistakes were made. Errors can cause serious problems at ports of entry and should be attended to before you travel.
Here is some basic VISA information depending on the region of the world you may be visiting (from the United States).. Also ProjectVisa.com is a wonderful resource to obtain additional visa & embassy information based on your destination.
Most countries in Africa require all travelers from the U.S. to obtain visas before entry. Tourist visas are required for every African country except for Senegal, Lesotho, Rwanda, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Seychelles does not require a tourist visa if you have proof of a hotel reservation. Mauritius will allow tourist entry without a visa if you have proof of funds and a return ticket to your home country. Certain countries in North Africa that require U.S. residents to obtain a tourist visa – like Libya and Sudan – can refuse to issue you a visa if your passport shows you have previously visited Israel.
Most Asian countries require U.S. tourists to obtain visas. For travel to India, U.S. nationals must obtain visas before arrival in the country. U.S. residents are not allowed into North Korea except as part of a special approved tour. No visa is necessary for tourist visits to Japan or South Korea, of less than 90 days. You can visit Hong Kong or Singapore without a visa in most instances.
Europe & Russia
Most western European countries do not require U.S. residents to obtain tourist visas. You need to have a tourist visa to visit the northern part of Cyprus, but travel to the southern part of the island does not require a visa. The former Soviet Republic of Belarus requires U.S. nationals to obtain tourist visas. The visa process for Russia is quite complex, requiring a paid invitation to validate the visa.
For tourist travel without undertaking paid work, U.S. residents do not require visas to enter the South American countries of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina or Uruguay. Most of these countries will allow tourist stays of between 30 and 180 days. Travelers from the U.S. do require a tourist visa to enter Brazil. You must obtain your visa for Brazil before leaving your home country, as visas are not issued at the Brazilian airports or borders.