I hold a Nigerian passport and as a traveler this means that a big part of my life revolves around applying for visas and taking up space in a visa office. The great news is, I have so far had a 100 percent success rate on my visa applications (I just applied for my 17th visa and got approved in less than three days – response time is usually 15 days) and there are certain factors I’ll attribute to that.
I have a bit of a location-based privilege which I wouldn’t want to ignore – living in Canada and being a Permanent Resident here surely helps. However, I was traveling before my residency status changed and many things still hold true!
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF A VISA APPROVAL
- Your travel history – The more you travel, the more you position yourself for success in the visaphere. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t, I have shared some ways to build your travel history below.
- Successfully answering the questions on the minds of the visa officer. More on this below.
- Having strong home ties.
- A good financial situation.
- Ability to read and follow instructions.
Travel history plays a big role in getting your visa approved.ufuoma
FIRST, BUILDING YOUR TRAVEL HISTORY
Your travel history is probably your most important currency when obtaining a visa. It’s like proof that because you have traveled to XYZ, you can now travel to ABC.
I’m sure you have heard things like “you have a green or virgin passport”. This reminds me of the job application woes – you need experience to get a job but you also need to get a job first to get experience. Can anything be done in this case? Absolutely. Here are my tips to help you build your travel history in order to make yourself a more attractive “visa candidate”
- Go to visa-free or visa-on-arrival countries first. No matter what kind of passport you hold, there are certain countries that will allow you visit visa-free for 30 days or where you can obtain a visa-on-arrival. Take advantage of those and start there. That way, you are not only visiting a new country, you are also building your visa credibility and travel history.
- Add more countries when you go on vacation. Some visas like the Canada/US/UK visa allows you to visit other countries with that same visa. So when you are planning to visit say, the US, you can add Mexico to your travels and that way, just like that, you have built some travel history.
- Start with the “easiest to get” visas first. We all know some visas are easier to get than others, while some literally require your head (lol). If you can, tackle to easier visas first, travel to those countries and build it up from there. Don’t be afraid to start “small.”
Will you return to your country?
A visa officer always wants to know if you will return to your country when you say you will. You have to be able to demonstrate this in your application.
Do you have enough resources for your stay?
Are you able to fund your travels for the duration of your trip without relying on help from others? You’ll have to prove this too!
Will you pose a threat when you travel?
No one likes a law breaker or someone who will constitute a nuisance while abroad. The more you travel and abide by the law, the greater your chances.
Are you going for what you say you are going for?
Your purpose of travel is very important. If you say you are going for tourism purposes, there’s no reason to do business instead.
HOW TO PROVE THE ABOVE TO A VISA OFFICER + GENERAL VISA TIPS
1.) Will you return to your country? AKA Strong Ties
- An employment letter
- A school enrolment letter
- Letter from projects you are involved with
- Presence of a nuclear family back home can also represent strong family ties
2.) Do you have enough resources for your stay? AKA Good Financial Standing
- Pre-booked hotel and flight tickets
- 6-month bank statement with a balance that covers your trip and extra
- Your pay stub/pay cheques to show regular income
- Share certificates and landed property receipts if any
3.) Will you pose a threat when you travel? AKA Law-abiding
- A police clearance certificate showing a clean criminal record
- Document showing great travel history
4.) Are you going for what you say you are going for? AKA Purpose of Travel
- A purpose statement letter stating clearly the reason for your trip
- An itinerary, if possible, detailing the activities you will engage in
- Receipts/confirmation of pre-booked tours
ADDITIONAL TIPS TO HELP INCREASE YOUR VISA APPLICATION CHANCES
- Apply for your visas well in advance to allow for proper planning and to give you enough time to appeal any denials on your visa.
- Read the visa instructions carefully. Sometimes it’s not that you aren’t qualified for the visa, but you haven’t paid attention to the details and followed the instruction.
- If a visa interview is required, make sure to be prepared for it and answer the questions firmly and honestly. Don’t sound desperate and don’t give unnecessarily long explanations. Be assertive, confident and honest about your needs.
Note: Everything you have read here is based on my personal experiences only. I am not a visa agent and cannot guarantee the success of your visa application.
So that’s it! I hope this helped you. If it did, share with others using the buttons below! Subscribe to this blog for more travel resources and follow me on Instagram for more travel stories, tips & adventures.