Why Are Visa Applications So Difficult?

So, you’ve made the life-changing decision of emigrating from your home country. Now, the only question left on your mind: “why are visa applications so difficult? It should be easy, right? Or at least a bit simpler. Well, let’s explore why it’s so difficult to actually get a visa and maybe even find a few solutions.

Why would your visa application get rejected?

So, let’s deal with the worst-case scenario first because it is, unfortunately, the most common reason people struggle to get their visas. Let’s pretend you’ve gone through every other tedious part. You finally got an actual appointment at the embassy, you’ve filed all the paperwork, and now you’re waiting in anticipation. The email comes, you open it in excitement, but you get the worst news possible. Your visa application has been rejected.

You may be wondering how this happened. So, here’s a couple of reasons why you may have been rejected and how you could possibly avoid this outcome:

  • Unauthenticated birth or marriage certificates. This could be a simple case of forgetting to check if your documents have all been authenticated properly. So, be sure that all important documentation is authorised before even applying.
  • No proof of accommodation. No country wants you to just wander their streets when you arrive. The best thing to do is make sure you have someplace to stay upon arrival, whether it be proof of sponsorship from a host in that country or even just a booking at a hotel.
  • No/insufficient financial subsistence. Once again, a country will not want to let you in, just for you to wind up on the streets. You will need to prove that you have a job or some way of looking after yourself financially. In other words, provide the embassy with your bank statements.
  • A criminal history. Make sure your past is squeaky clean before applying. The embassies have to be very cautious about who they accept. And, you can imagine that they do not want to give access to someone who could pose a threat to the community.
  • Insufficient reasoning. Perhaps the embassy does not feel like your reason for entering the country is “good enough”. Now, I understand that this may seem unfair since they could present you with a multitude of arguments. But, it is their right to deny a visa application, so rather make sure your reason for going is airtight.
  • A damaged/invalid passport. You cannot travel without a passport. So, make sure yours is in immaculate condition and that it is still valid. Otherwise, there is no point.

The most common requirements for a visa application

This is an important part of any visa application, the actual requirements. Now, I will only cover the general requirements, as listing specific requirements for every country would lead to a 10-page essay. So, without further ado, here are the general requirements that every country looks for:

  • Proof of financial stability. You will need to submit bank statements proving that you are financially capable of looking after yourself.
  • Passport. You are required to have a valid passport.
  • Proof of residence. You need to present either an ID card or utility bill to prove that you are a resident.
  • Payment. You will need to have the payment ready for the applicable visa charge.
  • A completed visa application form. This one seems obvious, but people do forget. So, remember to fill out an application form and take it with you to your embassy appointment.
  • A reason for your application. This usually applies to work visas. So, you’ll need proof that you have a job in the country you are applying to and you will need a letter from your sponsor/host.

But, what about freelancers?

You might have panicked upon seeing that you need a “valid” reason for being in the country. Or that you need to provide bank statements from a place of work. I know, as a freelancer myself, how frustrating it can be.

They might turn around and say, “Well, you can work from anywhere. So, why should we let you into our country? Can’t you just stay where you are?” And, quite frankly, there isn’t really an argument to be made in this case. Remote and freelance workers can work from anywhere.

But, don’t worry, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel. You also have an option: the Freelance visa! It’s exactly what it sounds like, a visa for remote workers and freelancers. However, there are still hoops to jump through depending on the country. Here’s a list of countries that offer freelance visas and some of the requirements:

  • Germany’s “Freiberufler” visa. While Germany was one of the first countries to introduce the freelance visa, it is also strictest with its requirements. One of the harder requirements is proof of work and that you can financially support yourself. If you, like me, can’t get freelance work in Germany because they need you to be in the country first, you’ll be caught in a catch-22. As they also won’t give you a visa without actual work.
  • Portugal’s self-employment visa. This appears to be one of the easier countries when it comes to applying. Its list of requirements is shorter than Germany’s for one. One of the only tricky requirements is that your job needs to specifically benefit Portugal in some way.
  • Dubai’s remote work visa. Dubai is also more forgiving with visa applications in general. I know quite a few teachers that got a visa with very little effort. However, the government maintains the right to deny your visa application without explanation.
  • Norway’s self-employment visa. This one is pretty interesting. While other countries often state that you should be only self-employed as a freelancer and not have a contract with a native company, Norway expects you to have a contract with a local business. 
  • The Czech Republic’s freelance visa. This visa is listed as being for all freelancers, however, it is mostly given to teachers.

Archaic traditions regarding visa applications


Another common problem with visa applications is the archaic institution of marriage. Yes, that’s right, you are still expected to be married if you wish to move overseas with your partner.

Now, I am by no means knocking marriage. It’s an institution that can be very romantic and even beneficial. But, let’s be honest, people nowadays aren’t really getting married as much as they once were. Apparently, millennials are dropping the marriage rate by as much as 70% because they simply don’t agree with the tradition. So, why are we still accepted to marry our partner just to be accepted by the embassy?

Let’s look at it another way. Maybe you and your partner do want to get married one day. But, maybe you’re still in the early phases. So, you know that you have committed to a long-term relationship, but you also don’t want to rush headfirst into a marriage. Or, maybe, you don’t want to get married simply because you “have to”. You probably want your partner to propose because they love you, not because they want to ship you to another country.

Fortunately, some countries are allowing partner visas now, like the UK and US. The unfortunate part is that you have to be able to prove that you and your partner have been living together for at least two years. This does still seem a little overly strict, as there are couples who choose not to live together for a while, and there are couples who may not have been together for two years but are still in a committed relationship.

In the end, I believe that couples, even if they are just dating, should not face separation simply because one of them was denied a visa. 

Embassies are actually quite unhelpful

Finally, one of the main and yet simplest reasons people struggle to actually get through the visa application process: most embassies are just unhelpful. You’d think it would be the seemingly endless list of requirements, but, honestly, those are expected. They’re even easy to find. All you have to do is visit a website.

Yet, we all know someone or have been that someone, who has become frustrated to the point of rage at an embassy. You simply have to visit sites like Quora, and you will come across countless people complaining about their various embassy experiences.

For example, I personally have sent two query emails to the German embassy, only to have never heard anything back. Yet, they have a box on their website, specifically for queries. And I am not the only person that has gone through this. How are you expected to get through the entire visa application process without someone there to actually help you when you inevitably have a question. Not to mention the fact that you will get turned away if you are even missing a single document at your appointment. And then you have to wait months before you even get another appointment.

Quite honestly, visa applications are very difficult. It is stressful and, at times, almost needlessly complicated. But, the best thing to do is to research, be prepared, and always stay calm. There are solutions out there, at least for some cases, and it is better to just take the process one step at a time.

Have you gone through the visa application process? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Ashleigh Robyn Reeve
Ashleigh Robyn Reeve

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