In today’s age of globalisation and interconnectedness, any company that wants to leave its mark in their respective industries will need to work with companies abroad. It is no surprise, then, that an ever-growing part of international flight traffic is made up of business trips.
When planning a business trip, most people tend to focus on the negotiations ahead. And, of course, the standard things to consider when going on a trip: packing appropriate clothes, booking a hotel, and getting your flight ticket on time. But one of the most important parts of a business trip is the visa aspect.
Unlike regular tourist trips, business trips have their own rules and regulations when it comes to visas. You can’t just apply for a standard tourist visa and expect to be able to represent your company. So we’ve summed up five of the most important things to keep in mind when applying for your visa for a business trip.
1: What do you plan on doing abroad?
This may sound like a silly question, but the answer is in fact crucial. Many visas and other travel permits have separate categories when it comes to working abroad. The most important distinction is between a business trip, and actually working abroad for a foreign company. Countries generally do not appreciate temporary foreign workers coming in to take jobs away from the local population. If you actually plan to physically work for a foreign company while abroad, you will need a special work permit.
2: Do I even need a visa?
We’ve been talking about visas all this time, but in many cases, a visa isn’t even necessary when going on a business trip. For instance, the U.S. also offers the much cheaper ESTA travel permit. This functions every bit the same as a visa, with the caveat that you can’t work for a foreign company. If you’re on a business trip, however, you can just get an ESTA instead of going through the cumbersome visa application procedure. Other countries have similar permits, such as the eTA for Canada. This can save you a fair bit of money.
3: Check the requirements of your visa
Once you’ve established exactly which visa or permit you need, it’s time to look at the specific requirements that apply. These can differ widely from country to country, and if you fail to meet them, your visa will be denied. For instance, if we look at the ESTA permit, you’ll note that it is only available to nationals from countries that are listed under America’s Visa Waiver Program. Similarly, you are not allowed to invest or start a company while travelling on an ESTA, nor are you permitted to perform any journalism-related activities. Be mindful of these requirements, as you run the risk of being deported if caught in violation of them.
4: Apply on time
A fairly logical bit of advice, one would assume, but cases of visas being delayed or not applied for on time (or at all) are certainly not few in number. The most important thing you need to keep in mind when applying for a visa is that you cannot influence the processing time once you’ve submitted an application. No matter how many calls you make or emails you send, there is no way to hasten the procedure. What’s more, if you’re unlucky, your application will be subjected to a random extended background check, which can delay matters by days or even weeks. Play it safe, and apply for your visa well in advance, preferably several weeks.
5: Make sure your passport is in order
Everyone knows you need to travel with your passport. But when it comes to visas, what also matters is which passport you travel with. In today’s age, most visas are digital in nature, meaning they can be fully applied for online instead of going to an embassy or consulate. This is accomplished by electronically linking the visa to your passport, so that you only need to present your passport and flight ticket to board your flight. But what this means is you cannot change this passport. It cannot be renewed and it cannot be changed. If you lose your passport and need to get a new one, your visa automatically expires. This is why it is crucial that you travel with the exact same passport you used to apply for the visa.