Visa-on-arrival simply means that you can fly somewhere and apply for a visa while you’re there. It goes without saying that you don’t want to rely on this, it’s more of an emergency measure. You can’t be one hundred percent certain that you will be approved for a visa-on-arrival, so you may well wind up stuck at an airport trying to see if you can exchange your return trip for an ASAP flight back home.
You may be ineligible for a visa-on-arrival depending upon a number of factors. Every country will use a different set of standards, and they may make decisions on sort of a case-by-case basis. What we’ve listed below is not, by far, a universal checklist, only a rough guideline of how a country might evaluate you for a visa-on-arrival:
Common Requirements for Visa on Arrival Entries
- You are visiting for strictly recreational reasons
- You do not have a home or work in the country you are visiting
- You are a person of good financial standing (in other words, they like the idea that you’re here to spend money)
- You are not considered an “undesirable person” (criminal records, etc.)
- You hold a passport with more than six months before it expires
Countries Requiring Visa on Arrival for U.S. Citizens
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Papua New Guinea
- United Arab Emirates
Again, this changes from country to country, but in general they are looking for a clean record, a good passport, clear intentions, and good tourists who will help the economy.
Fees ranging from under $50 to more than $100 may apply depending on destination and conditions. They may also deny you for visa-on-arrival if you have already gone this route twice in the last year or so.
If you have the choice, it’s best to look into expedited visas, even if it means delaying your trip by a week or two. You might be eligible for a visa-on-arrival, but it might not be worth the risk.