If you travel frequent, you would be familiar with what a travel visa is. But if you have not travelled abroad before, you might not realize that a visa is necessary for many countries that you wish to visit.
What is a TRAVEL VISA anyways?
A visa is essentially permission given by a specific country for a visitor to enter that country, for a specific purpose. That purpose could be for tourism, for business, for study at an institution of higher learning, etc. The conditions for each purpose varies.
The application process varies from country to country and it can sometimes be quite a cumbersome process. You could research online but sometimes that information is not properly updated even if it’s from an official embassy website.
I remembered the nightmare I went through for my India Visa application to Visakhapatnam. The guide given doesn’t make sense and the form was confusing. The queue is terribly long, the system strict and the service counters unhelpful.
If that wasn’t bad enough, It almost made me want to skip the India trip all together.
2015: Me at Kursura Submarine & Visakha Museum, India for the first time!
Fortunately, there’s a solution that makes applying for visas super easy now. Evisa Asia is a travel visa application service that covers up to 60 Asian countries.
Earn Pin Lee, founder of Evisa Asia (www.evisaasia.com) talks to GoBear Malaysia about the service his company provides and shares some anecdotes from his travel experiences.
GoBear : How did the idea of Evisa Asia come about?
Pin : Evisa Asia’s journey started in 2006 with a single country, Cambodia, which we were very familiar with, having been awarded the project to build the government’s first electronic visa system. That project made us aware of the complicated issues involved in visa applications. This gave me the idea to create a simpler process for people to apply for travel visas. We started with one country and within five years we expanded that to 11 countries. Late last year, the number of countries we covered ballooned to about 60 Asian countries.
GoBear : What convinced you there was a demand for such services?
Pin : Firstly, I travel quite a bit myself and I’ve often found that accurate visa application information is hard to come by. Secondly, friends and contacts would often approach me asking for information about applying for visas for this country and that country. It was very obvious to me that people found visa application a confusing and troublesome process.
GoBear : There are many countries Malaysians can travel to without a visa, right?
Pin : There are many places we can travel to without a visa but there are also many places where a visa is needed. In Asia alone, about half the countries in this continent require Malaysians to have a travel visa.
GoBear : How does Evisa Asia work?
Pin : We have created an app which you can download from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. We wanted to make the process as simple as possible so we have a single universal form which can be used for single or multiple applications.
GoBear : Everything can be done online?
Pin : Much of it, yes. For example, we have a passport photo conversion feature that allows you to submit a photo that can be taken as a selfie on your phone. But we still need to get your passport. To make it convenient we provide a drive-through facility where the can drop off your passport without getting out of your car. We also provide delivery service for your passport.
GoBear : So the main value proposition for people to use your service is a convenience?
Pin : Yes, our mission is to make visa applications easier for you. We remove the hassle so you can sit back, relax and let us do all the work applying for the visa on your behalf.
GoBear : What if someone is an experienced traveller who has been to many countries and is familiar with the visa application process?
Pin : Even if you are familiar with visa requirements for certain countries, it doesn’t mean those requirements won’t change. They do from time to time. We stay updated on every single change so you don’t have to.
GoBear : How much does it cost to use your service?
Pin : It varies according to the country and the complexity involved but the range is from RM10 to RM50. I think it’s very affordable and worthwhile given the time and effort that you are able to save using our service.
GoBear : What are three things about travel visas that people are generally not aware of?
Pin : The best time to apply for your visa is usually two weeks ahead of the processing time. If you wish to apply early, the soonest you can do so is two months before your entry date.
When you see the term “re-entry interval” on a multiple-entry visa, it refers to a compulsory time gap in between your visits to that country. Some countries like India require that you to wait for a certain number of days before you can re-enter that country. You can view this as a form of “cooling off” period before the next visit.
In the event that your visa has been granted but you have acquired a new passport, you can either contact the visa issuer to update your passport information or you can apply for a brand new visa.
GoBear: Do you still do a lot of travelling yourself?
Pin : Yes, I do for both business and pleasure. When I travel for fun, I usually prefer a road trip by car or even on a bicycle rather than going on a packaged tour.
GoBear : Do you buy travel insurance?
Pin : I always do. You never know what unforeseen circumstances might happen when you’re abroad. And since you will be in a foreign and unfamiliar place, it makes sense to have coverage for such instances. It will make your life much safer and more convenient.
GoBear : What advice would you give people regarding travel insurance?
Pin : When you book a ticket online you can very easily purchase travel insurance which is typically offered as an optional bundle with the flight tickets. But I recommend that you do a bit of research on the exact kind of travel insurance you want. It is important to understand what is been covered and what options are available. You can do that very easily via GoBear’s free comparison tool.
GoBear : You deal with a lot of travellers. What kind of horror stories have you heard about people who get in trouble abroad?
Pin : I have tons of anecdotes, from lost luggage and flight delays to tragic accidents involving head injuries and other accidents. You just never know what can happen when you’re abroad, so it really makes sense to have travel insurance.