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Traveling the World on a Third World Passport (bucketlistly.blog)
342 points by cirrus-clouds 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 308 comments

Visa-free travel was what made me truly understand what "privilege" means.

Having an Armenian passport and travelling extensively through my life made me very familiar with what the author describes: the months-long waits, the fees, the scramble for documents, the uncertainty, the inability to travel without planning months in advance, the queues, the unpleasant experiences at airports, etc...

Eventually I managed to become an Australian permanent resident, which grants the right to travel to New Zealand without a visa. Some time after, a sudden opportunity came up, and I landed at Auckland airport, having booked my tickets the night before. I handed my completely blank, recently renewed, Armenian passport to the immigration agent (permanent residency is technically a type of visa, there is no "green card", and Australian visas are electronic, not placed as labels in a passport unless requested). He scanned it, stamped it, and handed it back to me, welcoming me to NZ. Took all of 20 seconds.

That whole experience was completely surreal for me, not because it was so different, but because it was so mundane. There was nothing to suggest that this process might be different for some people. Everything about it screamed "this is normal", while my mind screamed the opposite.

That was my first-hand lesson that unless you've ever lacked a certain privilege, it is near-impossible to be innately aware of it. Sure, others may try to educate you and make you aware, but it doesn't convey just how profound of an impact a privilege can have on the lives of those who lack it.

your post touched a nerve for me: on my last trip to the US I used my new Swedish passport. The experience was surreal in the sense that I entered the US with my US passport in 2’. Returning to EU it took 10” as I scanned my passport on a kiosk on my own. I originally have an Argentinian passport and sadly it’s only good for me for when I ocassiobally go back to visit family. OTOH is funny to hear people complaining about the hardships of international travel, even if you have to go thru a lengthy process to get a visa. The fact we are discussing these topics probably puts a lot of us on the top 5% of income earners in the world. Privilege is the water we swim in, we just stopped seeing it after a while.

In fact an Argentinian passport is really good for travelling. You don’t need a visa for the European Union, South and Central America, most Asia, and quick online visas for Australia and New Zeland. The only main visa needed is for USA (and Canada) but it takes one interview and is not that difficult to get. There are far worse passports to have believe me.


Some people take this freedom for granted because they were born with it and can't imagine it was ever different.

One of the remarkable things about Brexit has been all the people campaigning against visa-free travel and residence who didn't realise it was reciprocal and would apply to them. Especially Britons who had immigrated to Spain or France and were relying on freedom of movement rather than the tedious business of actual residency.

Those Britons didn't get a chance to vote in the referendum.

Nobody in the UK is arguing that EU citizens should not be able to travel visa free, or rather, this is fringe, and a tiny minority of them wouldn't grasp it would be reciprocal.

Most are arguing against free settlement and access to social services and voting rights by anyone else in the EU. This is a hugely different thing.

Furthermore, the UK would under any system allow quite a number of EU citizens to come and work, so long as they meet some kind of criteria consistent with the needs of the UK - this is rational.

Spain benefits quite tremendously from the 'near full time' retirees coming there, so long as they don't have to foot the bill for healthcare (which they don't) and it would be in Spain's interest to have quite a large number of Britons coming there to retire. Britons aren't looking for jobs or voting rights, or to have children in the economy, just for domicile for a couple of decades.

In the absence of a national ID system or local registration requirements (a la France), how do you tell the difference between a visa free entrant and an illegal resident?

> criteria consistent with the needs of the UK

So, would you be imposing the existing rest-of-world spousal visa requirements on people who are already here with their EU spouses? If the answer is yes, do you accept that you're going to force a significant number of Brits to either lose their family or emigrate?

The existing Home Office system is already an inhumane disaster area which has no clear idea what "the needs of the UK" are.

> don't have to foot the bill for healthcare (which they don't)

Isn't this dependent on the EHIC system? What's happening with that?

Aren't you uncomfortable with the idea that being domiciled somewhere for a couple of decades wouldn't come with voting rights?

"In the absence of a national ID system or local registration requirements (a la France), how do you tell the difference between a visa free entrant and an illegal resident?"

Are you asking 'how the rest of the world' does it?

Or how the UK handles non-EU visitors today that don't require visas?

Because I don't think it's a concern.

"ren't you uncomfortable with the idea that being domiciled somewhere for a couple of decades wouldn't come with voting rights?"

Not at all. Especially because 'a vote' won't hardly make a difference. What matters is the integrity of the regime in question, and Spain is 'good enough'.

If Spain wants to give local/municipal voting rights to those on long-term retirement visas, then that's fine - point being, it's the decision of the Spaniards, not some ruthless adherence to ideology such as 'freedom of movement', the harsh interpretation of which is tearing the EU apart and turning politics across the continent upside down.

> He scanned it, stamped it, and handed it back to me, welcoming me to NZ. Took all of 20 seconds.

Just don’t try bringing a bit of fruit across the border into NZ, seriously. Multiple sharp objects in carry on gets a raised eyebrow but a piece of fruit will ruin your week.

Or even between parts of Australia, both countries take bio security very seriously!

Yep, Australia has a dingo fence, a rabbit fence, and, as I learned when searching for those, now a cat fence (though much shorter).




True, but I was referring to the fruit and quarantine zones set up in parts of south and eastern Australia, where they are trying to prevent the spread of fruit fly.

As they should! Failed interpersonal security is limited to a tiny area, failed bio security can fuck up an entire ecosystem!

Don't bring fruit or meat across international boarders, or if you do declare it and understand you may have it taken away. Countries are super serious about this and undeclared items come with fines in the hundreds of dollars range.

This is something I've been struggling with as an African who likes to travel. It seems to me that the thinking now in developed countries is that you don't need to hate the "others," but you don't need to trust them either. I've been wondering whether this is the reasonable middle ground to expect in terms of bias towards "others."

I think Australia has done this fairly well with their tiers of visitor visas: ETA, eVisa, stamped visa. From time to time countries jump tiers, like India moving from stamped visa to eVisa. Of course if your case is more complicated you might move down a tier too.

Thank you for calling the eta what it is: a visa.

Countries that provide “reciprocal” visa-free travel to Australians should cry foul about it.

> That was my first-hand lesson that unless you've ever lacked a certain privilege, it is near-impossible to be innately aware of it.

Not really true. I had a girlfriend with a "weak" passport. I have a British passport. I'm very aware of how much easier it is for me to travel and I've done nothing to deserve it. I didn't have to lack the privilege myself to understand it, though.

I concede that experiences you share with partners or close family are near-equivalents of having those experiences yourself, even when you're just the "passenger" on their journey.

I’d argue it’s not the same. It certainly gives you a very close and stark window into what it’s like, but it doesn’t compare to the lived experience.

Agree, which is why I said "near-equivalent".

For example if your partner has a chronic illness, you can never say you felt their pain, but you can say you know what it's like to live with it. You felt the impact of the illness on your shared life, and you shared the emotions it caused, which are lessons that no amount of reading, listening, or watching can instill in you.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's somewhere between being a first-hand and second-hand experience, because of the notion of a "shared life".

Your story is a bit similar to mine. I'm also named Aram, was born in Armenia, and moved to Australia at a young age. Apart from the initial move, I haven't had issues travelling with my Australian passport as a citizen or getting a visa besides the odd question about my birth country. What are you up to these days?

The situation is usually worse with just having to go through security at the airports alone. I got my greencard a while back, and got global entry immediately after, and i dont really know how i managed to travel without it. It is even better at the immigration, you jist type a number and you are in and out in < 3 mins. All for the price of 100$/5yr.

wait till you travel across europe without any border checks or passport, just an EU ID.

Tell that to the French with their passport checks on arriving in-Schengen flights.

Well, being able to travel to another country is the real privilege


>> The Swiss have a small country and can travel anywhere, so could Armenians if the government and people there took the right steps. It would take a generation or so but there's no reason you couldn't.

What a revelation! Ok, people, down with all that we were doing wrong, let's take the right steps, c'mon!

It looks like you're not really familiar with the sense of desperation and powerlessness which is the normal state for citizens of many countries. This is tangential to what the parent's been saying, btw.

> It looks like you're not really familiar with the sense of desperation and powerlessness which is the normal state for citizens of many countries.

As an individual ("I need to get a visa and it's hard and there's nothing I can do about it") I can understand, but as a society/country? How are you powerless to change the situation?

I mean, don't you think they're trying to change the situation? And have been for decades?

Armenia has great desire to change its standing in the global passport rankings. However, it is under mounting military threat from neighbouring Azerbaijan. This forces Armenia to maintain very close ties to Russia, to have the assurance of their military protection. Being friends with Russia makes it difficult to also be friends with Western countries and improve one's passport rankings. Trying to sign an economic treaty with the EU can easily result in Russia withdrawing stationed troops.

Armenia requires protection, because it's a tiny landlocked mountainous country with no notable natural resources, surrounded by unfriendly and/or conflict-torn neighbours, i.e. with no reliable transport corridors. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has oil and natural gas reserves, which it's used to build a formidable offensive military force and regularly declares its intent to attack.

Would you not feel powerless in that situation?

I used Armenia as my example, because I'm familiar with the situation there. But I'm pretty sure every other disadvantaged country has its own set of near-insurmountable obstacles. I say "near-insurmountable", because each country/society works hard to constantly chip away at those obstacles, and eventually, sometimes generations later, they succeed. But in the short-term, it's hard not to feel powerless.

> How are you powerless to change the situation?

At best, you're powerless regarding controlling the rate of change (and the changes required could take many, many decades). At worst there's people fighting against that change, preventing it from happening in the first place.

> At worst there's people fighting against that change, preventing it from happening in the first place.

Who exactly? People from the country of the passport holder? People from other countries?

I try to get to the root issue here. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it can take many, many years and maybe won't be relevant for you anymore (but maybe for your children), but that is not "powerless" - that is "it takes time" and "it is stressful". So, is powerless a shorthand for those things or is there something else?

The very simplified answer is that the "destination" country sets the rules and is usually looking for something specific in order to lift restrictions on the "source" country.

That something can be political, economical, military, or social. But whatever it is most times it either takes too long to achieve, or is unreasonable. And in the end there's still no guarantee since the decision is with the "destination". Just look at all the agreements the US signed and how a single president chose to simply ignore.

There's the other option that you're part of a certain alliance that precludes you from being to nice to people in "the other" alliance. Enemies.

You might not realize it but most countries get a privilege like this because they have some negotiating power. They have something to offer. If you have nothing to offer you're SOL.

All this means that for all intents and purposes some countries and peoples are powerless as it goes.

People from the country of the passport holder. If you're in North Korea and the like, maybe even people from other countries.

For you it's easy to say that it's not "powerless", but how many things have you personally sacrificed knowing that the outcome will be a few decades from when you started? And if you did sacrifice a ton, keep in mind and most people aren't like that and you're an outlier. So most people _will_ feel powerless when they try to change something and that thing doesn't budge for decades even.

> How are you powerless to change the situation?

If by "you" you mean a single person: To really affect the society (at the scale you can feel any echo of your deeds at least in a decade or so), you need to be an activist/to be heavily into politics. This is not for everyone. Most restrain even from engaging into discussions with the nearest circle to avoid being waived off as annoying.

If by "you" you mean the actual society: Society has the power when it has a realization of a problem and determination to resolve it. If it can't see the problem or doesn't understand the roots of it, it loses its power.

Don't be so quick to jump to solutions where the problem is unbelievably complex. One word? Iran. Another word? Iraq. One other word? Afghanistan. Another one again? Palestine.

All those countries listed above, none had problems before foreign interests intervened. And most of this is true for any 3rd World country.

While you and I have the opportunity to make a change in our countries the same is not true for any country, you can't work by extrapolation. Especially when all you can do is struggle to survive.

"All those countries listed above, none had problems before foreign interests intervened. And most of this is true for any 3rd World country."

This is not true at all.

Well, you have to go back a long way to find "before the intervention", ie into the 18th century.

I'm definitely sympathetic to any individual having difficulty trying to travel, but it's not a 'privilege' that I have. It's not some arbitrary thing.

So if you want to 'solve the problem' of 'inequivalent passporting' rights ... then you can encourage citizens and groups of citizens to take the measures necessary to obtain them. Aside from 'special cases' (i.e. Palestine, Taiwan) it's a matter of intelligent organization. There is no avoiding reality.

It is a privilege... you didn't "achieve" being born to your parents, you just happened to be. You did achieve things during your lifetime, but really big changes usually take decades, even lifetimes. Few people get to see such radical changes happen.

In many contexts, that's what privilege is: the advantages bestowed to you at birth as a result of what others who are like you in some way (nationality, skin colour, gender) did in the past.

The privileges of having Swedish nationality exist because of what other Swedes did in the past, outside of your control as a newborn Swede.

Yes, in some cases you do have somewhat of a responsibility to act in a manner that preserves the advantage.

And when you've been "privileged" with a disadvantage, you have the power to work towards eliminating it, as you said.

These are not exclusive concepts.

> they are doing it because Germans and Swedes have a deal,

And if you are German you did absolutely nothing to earn the benefits of that deal except be born into it. And that's why it's described as a "privilege".

You know, Swiss make the no. 1 nationality for overstaying their visa-free stay period around the world.

I'm not surprised. But nobody cares that they overstay their visa really. They're not going to cause trouble, or claim asylum, try to stay for ever and work in the underground economy, or otherwise cost the government money. Hence 'privileges'.

I'm Canadian, and we are the longest overstayers in the USA!

At least HK officially threatened them to revoke the visa free nation status unless they do something about it.

See, at least somebody cares.

The substantiation for your opinion is not substantiated.

"The substantiation for your opinion is not substantiated."

Actually, the fact that only one nation on planet Earth 'cares' - and it's a totalitarian nightmare of of a techno-dystopia, proves my point.

That's a strange point of view you have

As a 3rd world country, Armenia seems to have a pretty quick travel time

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm following. What do you mean by "quick travel time" in this context?

I'm also not sure why Armenia would be a 3rd world country. What definition is used, the Cold War eastern/western bloc allegiance or as an undeveloped country in Africa, LatAm, Asia, or Oceania? Because as it stands today Armenia is neither.

I think you can define a country as a 3rd world by the amount of foreign aid that country is getting.

Is that a personal or an official definition?

I think most people consider anything that they can't point to on a map with a precision better than 1000mi as 3rd world.

As a holder of a weak passport (India), I'm surprised that the author hasn't used the most effective hack for "powering up" a passport: getting a US visitor (B1/B2) visa.

A US B1/B2 Visitor Visa will generally get you into an additional dozen or so countries (sometimes more), as outlined here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_United_Stat... (see "Use for other countries" section). This list crucially includes Turkey, which the author could have used for applying for an EU visa from Istanbul instead of going home.

Not to mention that the US Visitor Visa will let you visit the US for up to 6 months at a time for the next 10 years for a reasonably modest fee of ~$200. Also unlike other countries you don't need to document a plan to visit the US and your visa remains valid even if your passport expires and you get a new passport.

Given all this, I'm not sure why the author hasn't made this (relatively) small investment.

If you're opposed to getting a US visa for ethical reason, you can also pull off the same (albeit to a lesser degree) via a Canadian/British/Schengen visitor visa (roughly in that order).

> Not to mention that the US Visitor Visa will let you visit the US for up to 6 months at a time for the next 10 years for a reasonably modest fee of ~$200.

Except not everyone is lucky enough to get a 10 year visa. Applied for B1/B2 three times each time I got 1 year visa. It is a hassle to go the US embassy and beg for visa every couple of years. Also the lack of privacy in the consulate is appalling! A poor girl had to explain why she was arrested aloud everyone wating there could hear it!

Edit: typos

Which country are you from?

Most visitors are eligible for a 10 year visa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_United_Stat... (see section "Validity period").

Unfortunately, the treatment might not be the best. In that case, you can probably apply for a Canadian/UK/Schengen visa and get 80% of the effect without much of the hassle.

As for the girl, I'm not sure why she would think she would be let back in after being arrested in the US.

I am from India and have a permanent residence in one of the European countries and yet my application goes to administrative processing each time taking several weeks and affects my travel plans even after applying well in advance.

As for the girl it didn’t seem like a serious crime. But anyway I am only complaining about lack of privacy at the booths. And she was not arrested in the US. She was arrested in her country of residence. She had never been to US!

> And she was not arrested in the US. She was arrested in her country of residence. She had never been to US!

Isn't countries' embassies technically the territory of that country (as opposed to the country of whichever city it's located)?

That's the popular portrayal, but the reality is more complicated; the territory doesn't change hands, but the rights and responsibilities of the two states are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which exempts the premise from most controls of the recieving state (but, for instance, radios can only be installed on the premises with the permission of the receiving State.)

LOL that’s a paradox then you are entering the country to get the visa to enter into the country!

Usually arrests/criminal records are only problems if it would be an offence under US law. Getting arrested for drinking alcohol in Iran won’t/shouldn’t bother the US.

DUI isn’t a serious offence in the US, so that’s ok too.

"DUI isn’t a serious offence in the US, so that’s ok too."

It's definitively very serious, and can be enough to get a visa denied.

Very serious? Millions of people in the US have one with no serious effects on them whatsoever (I'm talking of DIU and being caught, not hitting someone on it). E.g.:

"The penalties for drunk driving vary among states and jurisdictions. It is not uncommon for the penalties to be different from county to county within any given state depending on the practices of the individual jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions require jail time and larger fines, even on a first offense. For instance, Ohio requires a mandatory 72-hour jail sentence for a first offense conviction; however, the jail time component is satisfied by attendance of the Ohio A.W.A.R.E. Program, which is a 72-hour alcohol-education program. Compared to many other countries, such as Sweden, penalties for drunk driving in the United States are considered less severe unless alcohol is involved in an incident causing injury or death of another, such DUI, DWI or OWI with Great Bodily Injury (GBI) or Vehicular Manslaughter."

"Wisconsin regards first offense drunk driving as a municipal offense, and New Jersey treats all drunk driving cases without serious injury or death as traffic violations."

You're talking about people already in the US (citizens/residents). If you're trying to get a US visa from your country and you have a DUI on your record, it makes it much more difficult to get approved.

FYI, a US citizen with a DUI will likely get denied entry into Canada -- you usually need to be deemed "rehabilitated" or be granted a temporary stay visa before allowed in.


You’re being pretty selective there. MANY states require an Ignition Interlock Device:


This not only costs thousands of dollars – a very significant amount of money to the vast majority of Americans – but it also SEVERELY limits an individual’s ability to drive a work vehicle.

Yes, prison time is not always involved, but the financial cost of a DUI can be quite serious.

We're talking about people trying to visit/immigrate. The US is a very different country if you're a Citizen or not.

I'd like to agree with you, but I once found myself as the only person in a mid-sized firm who didn't have one on my record. It was an eye-opener.

And they all went through hassles and spent a lot of money to resume a normal life.

That's a highly understated way of putting it.

Got my H1B with a wet reckless offense (still a DUI I think). No question asked at the embassy. I even figured out later that I went to the embassy while having a warrant (lawyer never went to court because he died 2 days before).

It doesn’t mean you need to drink and drive or that it will apply to you, I think I just went crazy lucky that day at the embassy.

Yeah it's probably not 100% hit for sure. Some people in my University had questions when renewing their (student) visa because they got a DUI driving a bicycle.

Canada sometimes denies entry to US citizens who have been convicted of DUI. They have a data sharing system in place and can check US criminal records on the spot.

Yep a friend of mine is banned from Canada for that.

If you’ve got the money, there are a couple of good ways around that. This article seemed to explain it pretty well:


Iranian nationals are currently barred from travelling to the US, so I imagine a criminal record is not even necessary to get the visa denied.

> Most visitors are eligible for a 10 year visa

It's up to the person in the embassy to decide. Just because you're eligible for it, doesn't mean you'll get it.

For my country, it's either 6 months or 10 years. I got a 10 year one, but a person in front of me got a six months one.

From personal experience, depends a lot on the age of the applicant. My wife got a 1 year visa. My in-laws got 10 year visas even though they applied together.

Older people find it easy to get for one simple reason. They don't stay for long. And if they do, they are already old. So they won't abscond or go missing to stay as illegal immigrants.

Young people are likely to stay for long, some times even tear their passports and throw away to become illegal immigrants.

Also there have been cases when elderly people from India visit the US on a B1/B2 Visa, and then work hourly wages as nannies.

One of my India friend has applied for a B1/B2 visa for multiple times and did not get approved, even though he had already traveled to quite a lot countries.

I also got rejected a B1/B2 visa for 3 times (I'm holding China passport), and I finally flew and moved to U.S. after my company sponsored me a H1B visa.

The B1/B2 visa is truly the hardest visa to get for most third world people.

That visa is hard to get not specifically based on third world status, but based on the statistics of overstaying those visas. Substantial home country ties, such as a business or owning property vastly increase the chance of getting that visa.

Having other long-term visas and not overstaying them also helps.

>One of my India friend has applied for a B1/B2 visa for multiple times and did not get approved, even though he had already traveled to quite a lot countries.

Even though? Or precisely because of this? Which countries those were might have mattered...

It likely would have been simpler - being single for example is almost and automatic deny.


Wow I never would’ve thought this. As a Canadian, when I travel to the US for work / vacations I sometimes get my passport stamped with a B1/B2 visa (it is very common to cross the border with no Visa stamp in your passport).

I found this stamp more of an annoyance!

Canada is easily considered a first-world / powerful passport country.


Canada is fairly special for entering the US since they don’t even fingerprint you.

This assumes B1/B2 visitor visa is easy to get. I am a passport holder from a third world country. Currently, living in US. My wife got pregnant, and my parents wanted to be there when the baby was born. They were rejected for B1/B2 visa.

My father is retired, and we are not super rich so I assume the visa officer thought they will not return once they are here. On the other hand, parents of my friends who are from the same country, and retired but kind of super rich are coming in all the time just to have fun. Anyway, fortunately, my parents have no desire to live in US, and are living happily in their third world country.

As others have mentioned this all has to do with a probability of overstay. Somebody who's independently wealthy in a foreign country is going to generally have strong ties to that nation as well as property and other things that tie him to that nation. Poorer individuals have fewer ties and are going to be statistically more likely to overstay.

The individual from this blog has no employer, is a Thai national that writes more fluently in english than most natives, is carrying out part of his 'bucket list' -- traveling the world, writing about it on a personal page that's been mentioned by sites such as the BBC, and providing video including time lapse/high framerate footage shot from high definition AV equipment. There's an extremely high probability that he's rather well to do.

I'm guessing that being Muslim might have had something to do with it. I'm sorry they couldn't join you regardless.

It is in general very difficult for people from developing countries to get tourist visas for the US, including majority Christian countries.

The religion of the country makes a difference? Wow.

Huh? That’s not what I said.

What does the comment about ‘majority Christian countries’ mean?

I said "including" not "especially" or "exclusively".

Getting US Visitor visa is not that easy; All the decision making things are evaluated beforehand; & applicant is seen for 30 seconds only. Unmarried, less than 40, earning moderate money, does not help. I visited Schengen 10+ times, & in betweb those visits, US refused me twice on seperate occasions.

The 6 month thing is a myth. My gf tried to come for 4 months in 2016 and they changed that for 1 month at the border. It was a pretty traumatic experience. Had to change tickets and get married.

Right, it's up to 6 months at the officer's discretion.

Unfortunately statistics are not in your favor; visiting your girlfriend has a much higher chance of overstay than a regular tourist, in such cases if you can present proof that you're returning for good after a certain time that might help.

For more detailed discussion see: https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/61825/is-it-a-goo....

> your visa remains valid even if your passport expires and you get a new passport

This will soon be the case for me - can you explain how that works? Do I just bring my old and new passports to the border and show them both?

>A US B1/B2 Visitor Visa will generally get you into an additional dozen or so countries

It can work the other way too. Due to a mix up with dates I had to get one cancelled (and a new one issued) so the original in my passport has a huge red "Cancelled without prejudice" stamp across it. The border guard at Honduras was not happy - he figured if I wasn't allowed into the USA he didn't want me in his country. It took many, many hours to explain I had another perfectly valid USA visa.

Correct, you just show up with both.

For the second, generally make sure the documents you are using for entry are valid at time of entry; in particular a lot of countries require 6 months validity on passports.

Complicating things, some countries will not issue a new passport before confiscating the expired one.

I know multiple people who reported their expiring passport as stolen, just to be able to keep it (usually for purposes of having proof that they've held certain visas in the past).

> I know multiple people who reported their expiring passport as stolen, just to be able to keep it

Eh, you want to watch out doing that - some countries get real suspect if you have ever reported a passport stolen in the past.

Hmm, interesting. In my experience they just cut off a corner and put a large red EXPIRED stamp on the info page.

It varies per country. In the Netherlands you can request to keep the old document; it will be returned to you with a couple of ~12mm holes punched through it.

My girlfriend needed her old passport for travelling with an Interrail train ticket because the passport expired between the time of ordering the tickets (and submitting the document number) and travelling.

Well, your experience would be limited to the one or two countries you're a citizen of :)

It's definitely a thing across various ex-Soviet countries, and likely others as well.

My passport expired last year and I kept it with me for the US Visa. I just brought up with me 2 passports and they didn't ask me why. They realized that the one with the Visa is expired and just used it to check the visa and compare the name no questions asked.

> your visa remains valid even if your passport expires and you get a new passport

I've heard of people's visas getting denied because their passport would expire before the end of the visa.

> Not to mention that the US Visitor Visa will let you visit the US for up to 6 months at a time for the next 10 years for a reasonably modest fee of ~$200.

It depends. A multi entry B1/B2 validity period may differ from 1 year (Belarus, Afghanistan, etc.) to 10 years [0]

And, yeah, I hold a very weak passport too.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_visa#Validity_period_and_dur...


> Also unlike other countries you don't need to document a plan to visit the US

Is it even feasable to enter on B2 without a return ticket?

I have no intention of overstaying my visa or even staying longer than a month, but I would love the flexibility of traveling in the US without a deadline or plans.

I've done a few times and no problem. I just told them I had no idea of the exact dates and thus will plan when I know. On one occasion, I did request the officer to stamp me for a 5+ month (the usual was 3 months) as I might be staying for that extended period. I flew back a day before the B2 expires.

By law US airlines are required to let you cancel your trip upto 24 hours after you book it for a full refund. See https://bkpk.me/easy-return-tickets-for-international-travel... for more info.

In the past I've used this to great advantage by booking the outward and return legs of the journey separately. You can then cancel the return leg ticket and book a replacement later.

At the airport present tickets of both the original outward and return legs; as long as you don't overstay a visa there shouldn't be a problem. Obligatory note that this should not be taken as legal advice.

a one way international ticket usually costs about 80-120% as an equivalent class round way ticket, due to different price buckets.

You have to be flexible somewhere - either on date or price.

Another option is traveling on a low-cost carrier who generally sell outbound and return segments separately.

Can't you change your return ticket once your there? As long as you don't overstay you should be fine.

Very rarely, most of the times there is a hefty change fee unless you bought a refundable ticket.

Will it not cause you be banned indefinitely due to visa fraud?

Why so? There's no chargeback involved if you call the airline to change your return flight's date. At worse the airline will charge something extra for the trouble depending on the type of ticket you bought.

>>US Visitor Visa will let you visit the US for up to 6 months at a time for the next 10 years

Its entirely at the discretion of the customs officer at the Airport.

Sometimes they don't give you anything more than a few weeks.

As a holder of third world passport, you will be really truly fucked up when your flight temporarily changed destination and landed on a country to which you don't have a visa.

This is what would happen to you:

1. The aircrew would tell you everything is fine and totally ignored you after landing. And you got no compensation from the airline.

2. The custom control would hold you in a small black room from 12 hours to 7 days, along with all kinds of illegal immigrants.

3. Usually you would end up getting expelled to your passport's country, with it recorded on their system and even stamped on your passport, which means it will become much harder for you to apply for a visa.

Reminds me of the movie White Knights (1985), where a dancer who had defected from Russia was on an airline that had to make an emergency landing in Russia. As the plane is making an emergency descent, he runs to the bathroom and starts tearing up his passport and flushing it. The plane crash lands and he wakes up in the hospital with a nice Russian agent who dumps his torn up passport on his lap and says "Welcome home". Ah, movies from the cold war.


"A dancer"? He's played by Mikhail Baryshnikov!

I can only imagine that they identified him from photos somehow and then went through the trouble of digging his passport out of the toilet tank just for the showcase effect.

And on a lighter note, Terminal (2004).

Having experienced it myself, I'd say "it depends" - on the airline and the country.

In my case it was a connecting Air France flight from Paris to Mumbai that had to turn back to Charles De Gaulle after encountering problems en-route. Half the passengers were Indian nationals with either single-entry/expired Schengen visas (like me) or people passing through from North America or the UK.

The Air France staff wasn't particularly apologetic about it. They did everything that they were supposed to but half-assed it. Everyone who needed transit visas got them but we had to spend 6 very frustrating hours in line with not much communication. They sent sandwiches for passengers waiting in line but vegetarians got left out. The airline put up everyone in a hotel, with shuttles to and from the airport, but I got to the hotel at 3 AM (after waiting in line for a transit visa for so long) and the next flight was the following afternoon, so I couldn't get much sleep.

Air France isn't exactly known for good treatment of people from 'lesser' nations. This seems to be a longstanding problem.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world/indian-passengers-get-h... (2013)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Air-France-regrets... (2009)

My experience was in 2006 and the 2009 article feels very familiar. I accept that they can't control how long French authorities take to grant people transit visas but they could definitely do a better job of communicating and making sure passengers are comfortable in the meanwhile.

I've boycotted Air France ever since.

I'm a US citizen and this screwed me when landing at the wrong airport in China once (China Southern Air). It was just supposed to be a layover landing in Shenzen on the way to Vietnam, but we got diverted to another China airport and it was late at night.

The entire plane of non-chinese citizens was stuck in the customs control area, while all the chinese could leave and go to a hotel for the night. Nobody spoke english and they could not provide us with any food or water (or even enough seating, people were sleeping on the ground).

We had to wait until the next morning before they cleared us into the departure terminal (where we finally got water) and then we had to wait for that to open as well so we could book flights to continue onwards.

Never flying that route again.

Can you give an example?

I've never had this happen to me and my assumption was that if you stayed airside (didn't cross immigration) you would be fine.

I was once on a flight from Phuket to Bangkok, connecting back to my home in Tokyo. In such a case Thailand makes you pass immigration on the first flight, so Phuket, then your transit in BKK stays on the airside.

While taxiing to take of, the front landing gear broke so we had to go back to the Phuket airport (still airside) until another plan could be made available. Since we would not make the connection in BKK, they collected everyone's passport to stamp them with a temporary transit visa as we'd need to go to a hotel in Bangkok to wait for the next connection.

After 2-3h the new plane arrived, we flew to BKK and upon deplaning at the gate, a flight attendant came in holding a trash bag filled with all of our passport and proceeded to dump it on the floor and let the 100 or so passengers sift through the pile to find their own passport...

Good times.

Thailand has many more "interesting" administrative techniques!

When the plane has to land on the nearest airport, the chosen airport is very likely to be a small one and does not have any kind of international zone, and even without custom control.

Yeah, that is truly unfortunate. Thankfully that has never happened to me.

In some countries like the US you have to go through immigration before going to a connecting flight.

Many countries require a transit visa AFAIK.

For example: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/transit-schengen-visa/

A lot of countries will waive this requirement if you have a visa from the US or another first-world country. Have transited through CDG,MXP,AMS,LHR using a US visa.

Maybe you're flying third world->third world and have not been able to obtain the first world visa, though.

That's rough, generally having at least 1 first-world visa makes things a lot easier.

I was not allowed to transit through Sydney to New Zealand even though I had valid US B1/B2, Permanent residence in one of the schengen countries, Canadian visa and UK visa.

Indians require transit visas when traveling through Canada. (I almost learnt this the hard way when flying through Canada, as a complete coincidence I had a canadian visa from a prior trip that was close to expiring)

Right, but Canada doesn't have a distinction between airside and landside transit. Although as a rule of thumb you should always check the rules for every country you are passing through.

A friend of mine learned it even harder way he wasn’t allowed to board the plane and sent back.

It is hell. The difference between having a third (or second) world passport and a US passport is night and day. Worst of all is the attitude at embassies from some washed-up diplomat-wannabes who show open animosity and derision towards you and your kind and get a sweet power trip out of each such interaction. It is literally a hellish experience I don't wish anyone to go through...

I’m from Mexico and even though my country has some bad immigrant reputation I haven’t had any problem traveling several times to the US, Europe and some Latin American countries. What countries had you had bad experiences with?

Mexico is effectively a developed country compared to much of the world, its just a poor developed country.


Mexican passport is really good for visa free travel.

Mexico is a classic tier-2 passport according to Andrew Henderson (Nomad Capitalist).

Visa hell is the only reason why I don't travel more, and when I do, I only travel to countries where I can get a visa on arrival (mostly other third world countries).

I wonder whether the risk of illegal immigration outweighs the benefits of having more tourists enter your country. I would love to fly out to Europe for a couple of weeks (I can work from anywhere) but the visa process isn't worth it.

There are quite a few countries in Eastern Europe that are visa-free.

If you want to go to Western Europe, a UK Visa is a lot easier than a Schengen one and for some nationalities can get you into Ireland too.

I agree, but it gets easier if you have more than one visa from a developed country in your passport and a history of "safe" travel. Unfortunately this isn't relevant unless you travel at least once a year.

I tick all the boxes you say no criminal record strong ties to my country of residence not muslim and yet I run into issues getting US visa i know a few more Indian in a similar situation.

Heck, I had issues in getting a US visitor visa even though I've been there earlier on a student visa (F-1). The way the visa officers treat you like a criminal is even worse.

Thank you for sharing my article here guys! Glad it gets the discussion going!

To address one of the point in the comments about why i dont have a US Visa is that I haven't been traveling there at all and the process of getting a visa for Thais are very difficult, more so than the Schengen one. We have to fill in the longest form ever online, make an appointment and pay upfront, and then they will call me to have a one on one interview session and I have to dress properly (business attire apparently) for it just require so much effort that I decided to go to other countries instead. But even with the US Visa I won't be able to ask for a visa abroad in countries like Kazakhstan or many other countries that have embassy in Bangkok. They always ask for a proof of residency in the country I ask for the visa. :/

I'm glad it gets the conversion going though and the US is finally on the list now for me and I'll try and see if I can get 10 years. Apparently they are giving less and less of that nowadays as well.

Hey! I'm the person who suggested getting a US visa, although I realize it may be tricky for a lot of people.

Glad to see that I am not the only one frustrated with tough visa restrictions.

Thank you for the suggestion. I'll definitely give it a go :)

And that's for travelling. Think about how many people struggle in their home country with very few chances to try it out in a better place for them.

As Nancy Birdsall puts it [1]: "No other circumstance of birth — not race, gender, ethnicity, or parental socioeconomic status — so completely determines life chances as the nation of birth, essentially because of border restrictions on the mobility of labour".

[1] https://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/9781933286105-Prit...

In my experience, people from India (and I'm guessing other third-world countries) often move to a foreign country without ever visiting first given the expense of travel and their limited savings. In a way immigrating is more accessible to them than visiting as a tourist.

But generally, yes I agree with your point.

> In a way immigrating is more accessible to them than visiting as a tourist.

Not really. Someone from a developed country can get a working holiday visa to other developed countries very easily and work and travel.

People from third world countries cannot do that, ofcourse I understand why they cannot do that.

Most working holiday visas top out at a certain age, like 35 or even lower. The US participates in surprisingly few - only five, most of which have maximum ages of 25-30.

But, sure, what you say applies to young people from most developed countries.

This is also one reason countries have a higher wage than others, because not everyone can come in and increase the supply of labour.

Brit here. Would love to travel to the States one day but it sounds like an awful hassle so I continually pick easier destinations. Even the whole "give up your social media passwords" is enough to make me go "meh..."

Vancouver was lovely. Might be as close as I'll ever get....

The US is worth the hassle in my opinion simply because of its national parks. I have never seen anything like them in the world, in the span of like 3 states (Utah, Arizona and Colorado) you can experience 3 different landscapes (otherwise found in at least 2 different continents/countries) and just feel, truly happy, unlike other touristic experiences. (At least in my case, something about nature I find so serene)

It is funny in a way, the national and state parks may be America's best tourist feature hands down. It's a remarkable collection. Places like NYC can obviously be a great experience. The parks are pretty special though, a lot of the other typical touristy stuff you can more or less get in numerous other countries. And it's inexpensive, a $80 annual pass gets multiple people access to thousands of federal recreation spots and all 60 national parks.

That is the sole reason why I'm going to the US. National Parks!

As a Brit it's as simple as filling out an ESTA which is valid for 2 years, you shouldn't miss out on a very beautiful country because you couldn't be bothered to fill out an online form.

In general, you shouldn't decide whether to go to a place or not depending on how easy the visa situation is.

The added time waste involved should get allotted with the rest of the travel cost, and judged likewise.

Unless your ESTA gets declined for any numebr of reasons. Then you need to get a visa.

Once you cross the border, the country is awesome.

The (international) airports are something out of a dystopian novel. And the experience can vary wildly. I got the coolest agent ever at Atlanta – even after my fingerprints didn't match (consulate screw up), but that did cause me to miss my connecting flight.

On another trip, the guy in NYC was apparently pissed at his job and was very rude. But all my paperwork was in order.

Then you have a connecting flight, and you have to go through security again (but not border control), because the security areas are either not big enough or not properly planned.

I have not had to give up social media passwords. Is that a new thing?

When coming into the USA from an international location, the reason you have to go through security before catching your connecting flight is that the US won’t accept “implied screening”, meaning, screening that was done by another authority. It’s not about airport configuration or size.

I'd wager that the main reason is that the concept of transit is completely foreign to US airports.

Even if travelling to a third country you need to go through immigration, customs, re-check your bags and go through security to get to your connecting flight.

You cannot check your luggae through. A process, which is possible if you fly through virtually any other country.

I wonder what this costs US carriers. For example: Flying from Zurich to Lima would be logical, connection wise, via Miami, Atlanta, or even New York. But I rather fly via Amsterdam or Madrid to save myself the hassle and the anxiety of missing my connecting flight due to innane, unnecessary procedures.

The ESTA form now asks for social media usernames, although the box says "optional" and I didn't bother.

Github is listed as an example social network.

are they actively enforcing the 'turn over your social media accounts' thing right now? I have multi friends and family who came to visit me in the states recently and nobody mentioned that.

As a Brit, I don't think you will encounter any difficulty entering United States.

Nope, they are not actively enforcing this.

I went into the US twice this year, received "random" secondary screening both times, but my laptop never left my sight, and they've never asked me anything about my online activity.

Of course, I would still advise everyone to prepare themselves in case it does happen. I personally followed EFF's recommendations that they gave during 34C3: https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-9086-protecting_your_privacy_at_...

No they are not, his post seems to be political rather than factual.

> Political

I've got no beef with US immigration other than hearing repeated horror stories over the years from moderately reputable sources.

That's only if you're applying for a US Visa. You brits get visa free travel, and are all welcome anytime.

> but it sounds like an awful hassle

filling the ESTA form is an "awful hassle" now?

Well the world doesn't run on free phone apps, as an entry process ESTA is one of the easiest.

And btw the Brits should start preparing for longer lines when they get into mainland Europe

The "give up your passwords" thing is not a real thing. It's only happened occasionally in one-off scenarios where power-tripping border agents overstepped their bounds, and I think has maybe been proposed, but is in no way an actual law.

You're being downvoted because it is a real thing.

Even US citizens can be strongly encouraged (with threat of detainment) to turn over their electronic devices and surrender their passwords when crossing the border -- and remember, "the border" is legally defined as any location within 100 miles of a point of entry.

From https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/05/576139303...

> CBP agents inspected 30,200 phones and other devices during [fiscal year 2017].

Therefore, it does happen somewhat frequently.

I can stand behind ideological refusal to travel to the US because of this, but in practical terms for an individual traveller a 0.007% chance is does not qualify as "somewhat frequently".

You probably should have also posted the line right below the one you quoted, which shows that it is really not that common.

> Officials stress that those searches represent just a tiny fraction of all arriving international travelers — .007 percent.

I would like to say welcome to Indonesia for the author of the post! I am Indonesian, and just like what the author described, it is also hard for Indonesian passport to travel around the world. There are some visa free countries we could visit, such as member of ASEAN countries.

Indonesia is big, and the foreign embassy usually only located on the capital, Jakarta, or other big cities.

It is hard for me to travel to country that require a visa because I, first have to travel to the capital, this already took a whole day off work, and also expense of travel, then either stay in the capital (more money for rent) or go back to my home city, then back again to the embassy once its ready (another money and time spent for travel).

The problem was not the money or time, the problem is that we cant be certain whether our effort will yield result (e.g for me to travel to the capital, say 2 times and say 2 night hotel stay, would be around $300, also around 4 days taken from yearly leaves).

Considering that, I’ll just visit visa-free country for now.

Hey, I am the author. Greetings from Bajawa, Flores! Beautiful country you have! And you are right, Indonesia is massive. I've been back and forth at least 5 times in the past 6 years and still haven't been to Sumatra adn Sulawesi!

But yes, that's what I did as well by starting my journey in Cambodia and worked my way from there :)

Hi, nice that you enjoyed Indonesia! Even I havent been to Sulawesi nor Flores, good luck with your trip and safe travel!

Brazilian here, with a US visa. The appointment in the consulate took several hours, mostly waiting in line. You really have to set aside an entire day.

Also, they keep your passport for a few days, then send it through the mail.

I'm still lucky to live a couple hours drive from the nearest consulate. Brazil is a big country, and for many the consulate visit is a travel event in itself.

I refuse to go to USA as a tourist, because demanding a visa is outrageous to me. If you want me off your country by default, fine. I go to Europe instead :D

And the practicalities are also a problem: going through this visa process again with wife and kid, is the stuff nightmares are made of.

(The UK-style visa, which just took a couple questions at Heathrow, is ok. It is almost the anti-visa: you get a free pass for 6 months, and the "visa" line was no longer than Brazilian passport check upon return!)

I lost two full days on USA visa because the photo was taken at a different place to "speed up" things. I got my visa at Recife, said to be less crowded than São Paulo embassy (which was the nearest for me, "just" 600km), so I scheduled the visa interview in a business trip to a place "nearby" Recife (300km...).

I got the visa because my employer paid the ancilliary expenses back then and there was an expectation to go to USA, in the end I didn't go, and hopefully the visa renewal does not need me to go to an embassy.

If it makes you feel any better, I am a native US citizen (dual national actually) and I rarely travel in the US. Too expensive compared to most other countries. Hotels are expensive and a rental car is a must. I rarely rent a car in other countries.

I actually may go to Brazil for the first time this (northern hemisphere) winter. I will be traveling on my "other" passport since there is no need for a paid visa.

Another native US citizen here. Expat now. Also rarely travel to the US. Aside from the obnoxious visa process (my family are not US citizens), transportation issues are a serious deterrent. You need a rental car in the US and that has become outrageously expensive since I moved overseas. There is also the issue of what happens if you get sick or injured. We all know what a complete mess healthcare is in the US. I have worldwide health issurance that has one exception - no coverage in the US. That's a reflection on the US, not my insurance provider.

We travel other places that have decent public transportation and reasonable functioning healthcare systems.

Bad news: visa renewal does need you to go to an embassy again. There's not even a reduction in the paperwork.

Argentinian here same experience. We are from Cordoba, and the only consultate is in Buenos Aires (800kms away). I dont remember exactly but I think it was two days.

The process was really frightening for my children. I remember my daughter had an small water bottle and an officer yelled like if she was a terrorist.

Fortunately we got a turist visa for 10 years.

In fairness, this is true for getting a Brazilian visa in the U.S. My understanding is this is retaliatory, one way or the other.

The Brazilian visa policy is definitely advertised as a reciprocity measure, but the only thing about the experience that's really particularly "reciprocal" in practice is the visa application fee.

In addition to requiring a considerably smaller amount of personal data and fewer travel details, Brazilian consulates in the United States don't require an interview for visa applicants from the U.S., and in fact don't even require the applicant to be present in person at all. You can, for example, give your passport to a visa expediter who can deliver it along with your visa paperwork to the consulate and pick it up for you afterward. (An example—among several—is https://www.traveldocs.com/.) So, you don't necessarily have to travel to the consulate at all.

If you do travel to the consulate, you might wait for about an hour and be asked largely pro-forma questions about the nature of your travel.

Source: I'm U.S. passport holder who's obtained three Brazilian visas and helped other Americans with their Brazilian visa applications.

Brazil reciprocates all and any customs process any country implements.

It will go as low process as only verifying the foreign documents at the border against a known criminal list, and as high process as demanding an entire day at the embassy on the specific case of the US.

> and as high process as demanding an entire day at the embassy on the specific case of the US.

I've obtained three Brazilian visas and witnessed other Americans obtain them, and I've never seen anyone have to spend a full day at the consulate. In fact, we can request them through visa expediters without appearing at a consulate in person at all.

That’s not the case. Brazilian visas are trivial for Americans to get, they just cost money.

Brazil has a visa reciprocity policy.

Nowadays you can get a Brazilian e-Visa relatively hassle free: http://www.vfsglobal.com/brazil-evisa/

Oddly, having residency in one of the more developed countries does little to mitigate the ill-fated effects of a weak passport.

I am a Canadian resident with an Indian passport.

A 10-day trip to Iceland involved me having to submit 6 - 12 types of personal and financial documents, and showing hotel bookings for everyday of my visit.

I need to wait for 2 weeks to submit my application (in-person of course). The processing takes 2 - 6 weeks, not including the time they take to actually parcel your application to the embassy.

I am 16 days into waiting and my application tracking status is stuck on the message it showed on the first day. I contacted their support, and their response was, "Oh year we didn't update that. I don't know what stage your application is at, and this is the most information I can give you." I paid more than $100 in visa and courier fees.

I have travelled to over 15 countries and the above experience is, by far, one of the easiest processes I have been through.

It is definitely a pain, but if you naturalize you'll only have to endure this for another 3 years.

My wife is an immigrant from Poland. There is a lot of truth in this article. Governments discriminate against other governments A LOT and the citizens pay the price for that. In the US it would be considered illegal to take a Puerto Rican to jail for not having a passport, but there are cops dumb enough to think Puerto Rico is not a part of the US.

Contrarily, many countries discriminate against people with a US passport. There is a hidden resort fee just for foreigners that hotels all around the world charge, but if you speak the native language, you can bypass the fee.

I ran into an amplified version of that during a long trip to France in the midst of the peak political fallout between the US and France over the Iraq war.

The French being the French, every interaction was made dramatically better so long as I made every effort to stay in their language. There was a lot of tension in the air with regards to the US, dialogue in their language always defused that. Older people were the nicest, they were always surprised I was there and were happy to see an American in Paris at that time.

Had a funny experience on a recent Eurotrip I was on. I ended up losing a jacket (important to me for personal reasons) in Austria (Salzburg) on a tram, and had to depart for Germany (Munich) the next morning. I'd reported the loss to the bus operator and when they found the jacket they called to ask me to collect it from their office in Salzburg, but by then I was already in Munich.

I ended up taking an early morning bus the next day from Munich to Salzburg, collected by jacket and was back in Munich by lunch. We had a bungee jump happening in Innsbruck (again Austria) the next day so we crossed the border again, only to come back to Germany a day later.

So in 3 days I ended up crossing the border LEGALLY 5+ times.

This story blows the mind of friends back home. Foreign travel is a much bigger deal in many places because of the planning involved (I even know people who had to return from layover airports because they were unaware that the airport needs a visa as well even if only on a layover... Yes, that's silly, but it's happened).

As someone who carries a "weak" Indian passport (Yeah, I have a 10 year B1/B2, but honestly that's still a far cry from most decent passports w.r.t. travel), the Schengen process was astounding. I really hope more countries open up their visa restrictions to travellers.

Borders around that part of the world really are more of an implementation detail than anything important.

I'm originally from Australia but living in the UK for a year or so. I went on a couple month long holiday around the UK and while I was in northern Italy, I decided it would be nice to spend a couple of days in southern Switzerland. I hopped on a local commuter train and like 40 minutes later I was in Switzerland. The next day I went on a bit of a day hike and 'accidentally' hiked back into Italy for a stunning view.

'Edit': I went on a holiday around Europe.

It's no wonder why (rich) people spend so much money to get a St kitts citizenship just to avoid all this. It does really take the fun out of the travel IMO.

The worst still is the US visa in which you have to go for an interview like a fucking job interview in order for them to ascertain if you're fit or not. I have travelled so much around the world but hated traveling to US because of this reason (because at least with rest of the countries a travel agent can do almost 90% of the leg work).

But when I think calmly I don't blame them though because people do abuse it a lot. I think one time our entire rowing team disappeared in the US after arriving.

You're kidding, right? St Kitts isn't exactly a world class passport.

If you want to "buy" a first world passport, go for a passport from any EU country. Plenty of countries offer passports to investors.

Right now, at least for Russian buyers of citizenship-by-investment (a field with which I have some acquaintance as a RU-EN translator with some such firms as clients), among the EU countries only Malta is an attractive option. Other EU countries are no longer so quick to hand out citizenship, only residency permits.

The Caribbean countries may not seem “world class” to you, but passports of some of them do offer visa-free travel to Schengen and Commonwealth nations, which in itself is enough for many of these investors.

Yes st kitts was the cheapest I think. It certainly used to be very popular a few years ago but not sure if there are better options right now. The primary reason being you got your money back after 5 years. All this iirc. First class passport like Germany are very costly compared to it.

Having a St Kitts passport still subjects you to applying for a US visa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Saint_Ki....

Here is the passport index global ranking: https://www.passportindex.org/byRank.php

Never occurred to me that Greece would be so high in the list :-)

This is mostly because of inclusion in EU; the EU is able to negotiate visa policies for their citizens as a block instead of individually.

Oh great. Another thing to look forward to after Brexit.

As a Brit I'm really hoping Jacob Rees Mogg has a few disastrous holiday visa experiences in his near future.

doesn't the UK negotiate its own visa situations with other countries? For example, it's opted out of of Schengen (along with Ireland).


it's even mandatory, bilateral treaties are mostly forbidden.

I'm not so sure, IIRC Polish and Romanian citizens need a visa for visiting the US even though they are both EU members and US citizens are allowed to visit both visa-free.

This should not be downvoted. In practice it's not the case. However, EU negotiates on behalf of EU, not individual countries.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/us-nationals-to-be-f...

Quote: "Americans should be forced to apply for visas to travel to Europe, the European Parliament has said, in response to Washington refusing to allow all Europeans to travel to the States visa-free."

As a German in Singapore: The girlfriend (local) and me banter a lot about this.. She brought it up initially and is quite proud of the 'passport power', sometimes it shifts and Germany ends up equal or rarely above and I can prod her a bit.. :)

For me posts like the submission here are eye opening and completely new.

Interesting how Taiwan passport is more powerful than PRC, even though Taiwan doesn't really have any embassies.

Coming home recently I was somewhat surprised to see that US Global Entry card holders can now skip immigration at New Zealand airports via a fast lane otherwise reserved for diplomats, even though New Zealanders are not eligible for the Global Entry programme in the States. Whoever negotiated that asymmetrical deal... sheesh...

It so happens that NZ's regular immigration is now just an electronic gate that takes your photo, if you have certain passports (NZ, UK, Canada, Australia, US, some European countries etc). So it's already pretty close to the preferred entry schemes in the US and other countries and they're not missing much. But if you didn't have one of those lucky passports, but you did have one on the Global Entry eligibility list (which now includes India) I wonder if Global Entry would be a nice upgrade that would get you into several other countries more smoothly (effectively outsourcing the vetting process to the US, which seems kinda weird to me, but that seems to be what's happening).

Does this apply to citizens of other countries with Global Entry too? https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-...

Good question, I can't find any information about that. I just saw the special lane with my own eyes.

Not to mention standing in long queues OUTSIDE the consulate, sometimes for several hours.


Just to give some perspective, not all your visa problems are because you have a weak passport:

As a European, that happened to me when I needed a work visa for the US (for 2 month unpaid internship, J-1 visa). Only had to wait 20 min though because I had to book an appointment via credit card for $10. And I would not say that the guys there were nice in anyways. (Whole thing cost me $500, one day of travelling and 2 month preparing the whole thing in total.)

It's amusing that the author complains about a 2-week process for getting a Visa where Iranians have to wait months and in some cases a couple of years for a simple visitor Visa to US, and in many cases be denied for no good reason

If you're from Iran you can't even get a visitor visa now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_United_Stat....

Also waiting for a visa for 2 weeks means that your passport is tied up for those two weeks and you're unable to leave the country you're in. This could put a serious dent in the plans of any digital nomad.

NB , it seems travel visas emerged in the early 1920s.


Visas and passports started widely being used post-World War I

Similar experience with Russian passport as well. Treating someone just by a place where he/she was born is a racism, just in a less obvious fashion.

Ironically, Russia is one of the most difficult countries to enter in the world, for passport holders from any country.

Sadly it is true. Russia is an awesome location for non-urban tourism with a wild variety of climate - from hellish desert to a cold-hellish snow one, from high-rise mountains to vast expanses of swamps. Totally worth a visit.

Not for us Thais. We are visa free. I think they do it the way your country imposed them first. EU imposed the visa, they do the same back etc.

That's what I believe at least. :)

Not sure this is true.

For example, from what I have seen for British citizen, the process is exactly mirrored: Russians have to go through the same process to go to UK as Brits have to do to go to Russia.

Still a shame though. I must have gone through the process the author of the post mentioned at least 10 times in my life, it's not fun.

Speaking as someone with dual Australian / Estonian citizenship, I never saw it as racism that it's a PITA to get a Russian visa, however the Russian view that anything that is an inconvenience to them is 'racist' is sadly all too common.

Not only to us, it is a problem for citizens of most of the world countries, except EU, US and a few others. This is exactly what this article about.

My cousin from Kenya got his visa denied to US and it was sort of heart breaking. Being from Kenya myself and now in US, I’ve missed many flights to vacations and a friend’s wedding because Visa would not come on time.

You have to do quite a bit of preparation and paper work quite early. Hefty visa price easing fees and long queues. Having a first world passport is definitely a big previlege.

Something not often mentioned is that some countries (UK, Spain and France come to mind) require a visa to transit through their airports.

Yes and for us this world passport holders we can't even fly a flight that has 2 transits in the EU. Since flying from Rome to Paris is considered domestic, I will need a schegen visa for that.

I lost a 1300 USD flight once because of the flight I wanted to take to Bogota, Colombia passes through Rome and Paris. :/

This can often be waived if you stay airside and have a visa from another first world country. I've done this personally with a US Visa in the UK and France, can't speak to Spain.

The UK even allows visa-free 24-hour transit that allows leaving the airport for almost anyone.

While studying in the US, I once booked a flight to visit my relatives in Prague, flying into Heathrow, then flying out from Gatwick 18 hours later, leaving me with a whole day to explore London. It's supposed to be at the immigration agent's discretion, but he was happy to let me through, despite my Armenian passport.

Return leg was slightly more complicated, because the airline staff in Prague refused to check me in, since the flight was to London, and I had no UK visa. After at least half an hour of arguing, they ended up drawing up a waiver for me to sign, and let me on.

Semi-related "Show HN: Compare benefits of second passport based on the one you have" (201 points, 145 comments) from last month:



One positive thing about being born in a third-world country is that if you can manage to train yourself to become a good software developer (which I admit is probably much harder to achieve than in a first-world country), you can find remote work for a foreign (first-world) company and then you can live like a rich person in your own country (buy houses, etc...); this seems relatively attainable if you put your mind to it. When you're from a first-world country, becoming rich is essentially unattainable; you wish you could move to a third-world country to live a better quality of life, but that's not really an option; often, the law of these countries forbid foreigners from owning property; also, you don't know the language or culture so you might end up getting ripped off when doing large transactions.

Visa-free regime with EU is one of the best things that happened to Ukrainians a few years ago, we now have many more low-cost flight tickets and directions available, and most of my friends are using it, often surprising me at what's possible even on a low budget some of them have.

I spent three months traveling through Central America and the stories I heard of the difficulties people face trying to just visit America are absurd.

It’s just ridiculous that Americans can show up basically anywhere on earth and get waved in and we don’t extend that courtesy to others.

I think most countries would prefer to do it reciprocally as a matter of pride (for example Brazil started fingerprinting US travellers after the US was the first to start doing that to all foreigners), but in some cases they can't afford to put up barriers to tourism dollar inflows, so they make a difficult choice. Plenty of countries won't let Westerners waltz in without a visa -- for example India and China.

It ultimately comes down to balancing priorities - bringing in tourist money vs keeping up diplomatically.

Both India and China have realized this - India allows an eVisa and China allows you to transit visa-free for upto 144 hours.

> China

You can just waltz in to the Shenzhen economic zone (if you have a privileged passport).

A day trip if you stopover in Hong Kong - highly recommended to all electronics nerds.

Not true; US citizens can't get into any of the BRIC countries without a visa. China and Russia require traditional visas, India and Brazil require eVisas. In any case, you can't just show up in these countries like you can in the EU.

US/EU citizens can visit some cities in China for 3-5 days without a visa if you then proceed to a third country and only have 1 stop in china.

When it comes to tourist visas, its really all about how likely is a person from X going to overstay their visa in Y. This is why many places conduct interviews and ask for travel details. I know a few wealthy people from countries like Myanmar who have no issue getting visas.

Americans aren't at a very high risk of staying. That's the bottom line for visas.

True for Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Brazil... all of Europe mostly...


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