Have you ever thought how a simple document can define what goes into your travel diaries ? The attraction of seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and tasting new foods takes us from place to place and for people from the more affordable strata from country to country. The lure of hearing new sounds, seeing new locales, enjoying the diversities of nature, and the allure of foreign lands always keeps bugging our relative sense of inertia and leads us to be on-the-go.
But have you thought how the colour of your passport can limit your travel plans ? Have you considered your passport power? The first challenge to visit a country lies with acquiring a visa for that country. Applying for a visit – short stay- travel visa ( as the case may be – usually referred by different names in different countries) is the first step while finalizing a tour to the country. Every country that you plan to visit can appear to be a red blob on your travel map if you do not have a visa. The reason – visa application process can sometimes be time consuming, and uncertain with its outcomes. Our nationaly define the need to apply for such a visa. The country where you are born dictates whether you need to apply for a visa before hand in order to visit a particular country, or can you just go and book your flight tickets for a a multi-country tour without giving as second’s thought on the visa process.
Now many of us are born lucky while others are not since your travel options can be eased out with a passport which is powerful when compared to other which is not. Some of the world’s citizens have the power to flash their passport and cross immigration in abreeze, while most of others do not. A person born in Singapore is the luckiest today ( Mar 2018) with as many as 162 countries allowing a visa-free entry to Singaporeans, while someone born in Afghanistan ( ranks at 96th ) can only visit 26. Its not fair, I agree, but that’s the way it is. Here is the list of countries ranked globally by the strength of its passport in 2018.
Myself, being an Indian, stand at a lowly 73rd position allowing me to visit a meager 57 countries visa free. So how can I increase the power of my passport for short term travelling ? There are a couple of ways to do so. The first would obviously be to GO and Apply for an US non immigrant visa B1/B2. The United States mostly approves a 10 years multi-entry B1/B2 visa and it can can ease out a lot of your travelling woes. An US multi-entry visa increases the power of your passport by adding about 30 odd countries which suddenly becomes Visa free to you and thus becomes blue dots in your travel map. Suddenly your passport becomes more powerful. Here is a List of Countries you can visit with a B1/ B2 US Visa. This US Leisure/ Medical visa is a straightforward way and you can check here to begin the process of applying for an US D-160 Application here.
A similar power-booster is your multi-entry UK and Shengen Visas. Schengen Visa concept started in 1985 when 5 European countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) decided to enable border free travelling for its citizens. The Schengen information system (SIS) was established to help maintain internal security within the Schengen states in the absence of internal border controls. It grants you free travel in and out of the 26 countries in Europe. Here do understand that the European Union, though comprising of mostly the same countries, is NOT synonymous with a Schengen. Thus all European Union States may not have visa-free travel through the Schengen nations. An example here is Croatia. Though Croatia is a member of the European Union, it is not within the Schengen Area and thus Croatians do NOT travel Visa free through the Schengen area.Another is UK. 🙂
Again a word of caution here. It is generally required that your passport should have at least 6 months of validity and two blank ( unstamped) pages in most cases, while some countries require you to use your B1/B2 Visa once before you step into their country. Same holds for the Schengen C Type Visa too. A Multi-entry Type C Schenzen Visa allows you to travel another 20 countries around the world visa free ( or Visa on arrival).
Here is the list of countries who will allow you to enter for a 30 day tour with either an US Bi/Be Visa or a Schengen multiple entry visa .
The third option, and an albeit special one, lies with those who have been able to secure a Residency / Permanent Visa of another more developed country. Such persons can use the advantages of the power which this permanency or residency brings to the passport. An example is an Afghani who has secured permanent residency in UK. His new status will be pretty similar to people with an UK passport and thus his travel options increase drastically. But this is an option far off for most.
For Indians :
Indians are still pretty down the scale in the index for Passport Power or global Rankings. Here is a list of countries and its more important locations which you can visit with an Indian Passport ( also one with an additional multi entry B1/B2 Visa).