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Laissez-Passer publish regular blog posts, opinion articles, and reports on international mobility and migration.  

Why disrupting the visa obtaining infrastructure is a long overdue? 

DISCLAIMER: This article is not in the intent to promote unregulated open boarder policy or the complete wavier of visa requirements, - although in an ideal open society this should be the world we live in - we understand countries interest in controlling their boarder and the realities of the geopolitical economic and social complications. With that being said, this article is looking into some of the convoluted administrative processes in relation to issuance of visa permits and how these processes are not compatible with today’s pace.  

Reason one: The process for requesting and obtaining a visa to travel abroad can be incredibly cumbersome and costly

This result in visa applicants being pressured to endure on a regular basis excessive costs, lengthy waiting times, and nontransparent and convoluted administrative processes to acquire a visa. Anticipating the uncertainty as to when the visa will be received, often last minute leaving the traveler with the only option of buying a two or three times more expensive flight ticket, not to mention the cost of visa application, travel insurance and the cost of time. The combined cost of all the purchased documents sometimes equates to three to six months of the minimum wage of the national applying for a visa. 

Reason two: Embassies & consulates typically operate for a limited number of hours per day, with no online and/or 27/7 customer support

Particularly for restricted passport holders who are often also citizens of developing countries. Such nationalities will often need to travel long distances to the nearest embassy or consulate–that may be located in a different city- in order to inquire about or request a visa. Access to information and services is then further complicated as consulates typically operate for a limited number of hours per day, an insufficient time to attend to the overwhelming visa demands and inquiries. 

Reason Three: Most countries do not have an active, user friendly and up-to-date visa information website that allow visa seekers to find answers 

Even when a country's ministry of forign affairs website is regularly updating visa information, it still represent a huge number of shortcomings, especially the navigation of information and the complex number of regulations that applied not only for particular nationality but also that applies to particular age groups and / or gender. Additonally, it is not always easy to find the official website of the ministry of forigne affairs of the intended country of destination which create  the vacum that was filled with an endless number of websites scattered on the internet that all offer bts and pices of the full information required leaving the visa seeker with more questions than answers. 

Reason Four: Most countries do not have a counselor section in all other countries abroad including the most developed countries

In the cases where the country of destination doesn't have diplomatic representation in the country of visa applicant. This only result in visa applicant having to endure the cost of time and money to plan an international trip to another country just to apply for the visa to their intended destination. Good example is that considerably a number of countries have only one embassy or two for the entire continent of Africa, located in Cairo or Johannesburg.  

Reason Five: Dispite available technology solutions, most visa applications are processed by submitting a stack of papers and in person

While we live in the age of automation and despite the fact that today's technology is cheap, efficient, widely available and secure, counselor sections still demand an in person application submission.  

Islam El-Ghazouly

Managing Partner, Laissez-Passer

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