Visas – “Check Everywhere You Want To Be”

by Andrew Stein

As the USA has become stricter and stricter letting in foreign visitors, the reverse has also become true.  This is probably due to a combination of countries being frustrated with US stricter policies as well as just taking greater security precautions.  That said, as a traveler, it hasn’t always been an advantage being from the US when applying for travel visas.

To make this point very clear, China asks for a fee along with its tourist visa application.  When reading the chart for how much I owed, there were three columns.  The first column was to designate the number of times I wanted to enter the country and for how long.  The second column was how much Americans would have to pay, and the third column was how much citizens of other countries would have to pay.  As a citizen from the US, I would’ve had to pay $130 regardless of how long or how many times I entered the country.  Citizens of other countries would have to pay only $30 if they wanted a single-entry visa.  China is also one of those places that require you to have a travel visa before arrival.  In most places, I will be able to purchase a travel visa for a minimal fee and a couple passport photos of myself while making my way through customs.  Of all the places I plan to visit, only China and Vietnam required an advance visa.  In the end, I don’t blame these other countries for getting frustrated at the USA’s visa policies because it ends up causing people like me who need to apply for those visas to learn how tough the US really is on foreigners and to subsequently question if that’s right.