Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The 4 types of visa to know

If you have only traveled in Europe, you have only a vague idea of what border controls mean… They have reappeared in recent years with the coronavirus pandemic, but as soon as you leave the European Union, they are commonplace !

You probably already know that a passport is almost always mandatory, and the word “visa” is not unfamiliar to you. Not the credit card, but the key to entering a country !

Some are simple to obtain, others require numerous formalities and can frequently be refused..

To optimize your chances of traveling where you want, here is a presentation of the 4 main types of visa.

Type 1 visa: the tourist visa

This is, by far, the most common visa, and certainly the one you will use to travel.

This is often the easiest visa to obtain, and it allows a limited duration of stay. Its conditions of obtaining depend on :

  • Your nationality (the most important criteria)
  • Your country of departure
  • Your itinerary on site

The formalities to be completed depend on the country. It can be obtained at the embassy, at the airport, or it can be an online visa. You can find more information about this visa at

Visa type 2: the immigration visa

This is the most complicated visa to obtain, but also the one that offers the most possibilities. Once you have it, you can live legally in the country, and work there.

It can be permanent or for a limited period of time, and some even give access to dual citizenship after a certain period of residence.

The conditions for obtaining the permit differ greatly from one country to another, and are generally based on :

  • Your nationality
  • Your family situation
  • Your professional situation
  • Your investment capacity
  • Your status (e.g. refugees)

As an anecdote, you should know that some countries like the United States also have a lottery system that allows you to obtain an immigration visa (the famous “green card”)

Visa type 3: the student visa

As its name indicates, it is reserved for those who travel to a country to study. It is for students who come as part of an academic exchange (such as the Erasmus program), as well as those who have decided to continue their education abroad.

The conditions for obtaining a visa depend mainly on enrollment in a university in the country, and to a lesser extent on nationality.

Please note:

A student visa is not an immigration visa and, depending on the country, it does not always allow you to work, even part-time.

Visa type 4: the business visa

Although it may seem simple, the business visa is actually quite complicated because of the multiple forms it can take:

  • Business visa to negotiate contracts with suppliers or clients
  • Work visit visa, for example, for a visit to an international subsidiary
  • Short term visa, to work on a project of short duration
  • Long mission visa, if the professional reason involves a long stay


Some may be tempted, for ease of obtaining a visa, to “disguise” a business trip or work visit as a tourist visit. This can have unfortunate consequences with the local authorities and is not recommended at all.

Now you can choose the type of visa that suits you best !