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The Language of Immigration


Virginie Le Baler


January 20, 2023


09:52 AM

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Every occupation has its specific vocabulary, and practicing immigration is no exception to the rule – especially since, from one country to another, the same word will not mean the same thing!

In this article, Immigration Practitioner, Virginie Lebaler at Oui Immigration, offers a summary of the most common terms:

What is a Visa?

It is a document that allows its holder to enter the territory of a given country, for a specific activity and duration: tourism, business, work, family reunion.

One often hears that “a visa is needed” to work in a particular country (this is usually where the immigration specialist’s face changes). In reality, for a long-term professional mobility, it is a work authorization that will be required, which will be converted into a visa, which will be converted into a work permit or even a residence permit. The visa is only one step in a procedure that can take several months!

What is a Visa Waiver?

One benefits from a visa waiver when one is a citizen of a country that has signed a bilateral agreement with another country, on the non-need for their citizens to obtain a visa before arriving in the said countries.

Clearly: there is a visa waiver agreement between France and Brazil => a French person can travel to Brazil and a Brazilian citizen can come to France without doing anything else than showing his valid passport upon arrival in the country: no visa application will have to be filed with the Consulate before the flight.

On the other hand, a German citizen wishing to travel to China will need to obtain a visa from the Chinese Consulate before departure: there is no visa waiver agreement between Germany and China.

What is Work Authorization?

It is an authorization issued by the government of a country after analyzing a file containing various documents, usually attesting to the skills of the person, the need to hire this talent and the legality of the sponsoring company. This work authorization usually precedes the issuance of the visa.

What is a Work Permit?

A work permit is a document authorizing its holder to work for a specific company, position and duration. Depending on the country, it also serves as a residence permit. It is generally renewable through local authorities.

What is a Residence Permit?

It is a document authorizing its holder to reside in a country for a specific period of time and reason. Be careful, it does not systematically authorize to work!

Some countries issue documents that serve as work authorization/work visas/work permits all in one, others add other steps…. In addition, the term “work permit” in Australia can sometimes be understood as “work authorization” in England, or as “Employment Visa” in India.

Have we lost you here? Normal! Feel free to reach out, schedule a consultation or ask us any immigration related questions you might have 👉 Contact Virginie Today

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