Cape Town - This ticket to smooth travelling, much like the elusive 'Golden Ticket' in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, will cost you some serious bars - and not of the chocolate variety.
Introduced over 30 years ago, the Golden Visa has allowed wealthy customers and investors the chance to experience hassle-free travel and a broader spectrum of travel destination options. The niche market has mushroomed since into a secretive, multi-billion-dollar global industry - which includes more than 20 countries.
What is a Golden Visa?
This magical portal visa has the ability to help you zip to the front of the immigration line for a growing list of attractive countries - including some in the European Union and the United States. It's meant to spur on the notion of global citizenship.
CHECK OUT: A borderless Africa? Some countries open doors, raise hopes
How can you get a Golden Visa?
The rules and regulations regarding Golden Visa programmes differ from country to country and most governments tend to keep details under wraps. Essentially, to earn the rights to score the elusive and desirable Golden Visa, you'd have to make a 'blood sacrifice' in the form of a sizable investment into a certain country or government.
- It could bring on the dawn of a truly universal society as 'global citizens' enjoy the freedom of choosing where to live, how to travel, and where to invest.
- It's vulnerable to corruption due to its exclusivity and secretive nature.
- It stretches the divide between wealthy and poor more so by affording these options to the super rich only.
- It promises freedom of movement to a select handful when refugees fleeing war torn areas are denied the same - and needed - option.
- It can aid the wealthy to potentially evade tax.
- The same autocratic leaders who use the Golden Visa system are responsible for the flood of refugees the world faces.
READ: #AfriTravel: Visa-free travel for SA and Angola travellers
The cons seem to outweigh the pros, raising the key question, "Is the Golden Visa worth it?"
Let's rehash the process on how to get a regular visa and see:
How to get a regular visa:
We South Africans have less options when it comes to visa-free countries aka hassle-free travel destinations - unlike a sought-after USA or European passport.
You should always make doubly sure about the visa requirements for South Africans for the country you're visiting from multiple internet sources and do a third check by just calling up the country's embassy in South Africa. Don't despair too much though - there are at least 92 countries where the Green Mamba has no visa requirements.
South Africans can apply for their specific visa by contacting the travel agent or the Foreign Representative in South Africa of the country you intend to travel to, whether a visa is required or not. Since requirements can change from time to time, it is best to double-check the requirements before each trip.
Europe, Australia or USA visa processes are known to be a drag, so try to do your application three months in advance, or six weeks minimum.
ALSO READ: Visas 101: Everything you need to know about applying for a tourist visa
To apply for a visa, you'd have to ensure the following:
- Your current passport is valid - make sure that the expiry date for your passport is far in the future and not close to your trip, with at least 6 months validity and at least two blank pages available for stamps
- You have sufficient funds - travelling can be costly, be sure you've got enough money to last you your entire journey and back
- Confirm any transit visas or connecting flights - there is a chance the country you experience a layover in or connecting flight in would require its own transit visa
- You need a return ticket to where you're from along with a flight ticket to where you're headed
- For certain areas and countries, you'd need a letter of invitation and confirmation of your accommmodation.
- Some also require certain medical certificates, such as a Yellow Fever vaccination for example.
SEE: Visa-free travel: Where your South African passport can take you
Alternatively to the Golden Visa, try getting 'dual citizenship'
If you don't feel like the stress of having to continuously apply for visas, your next best bet would be to apply for dual citizenship in a country with a powerful passport. However, make sure that you leave and enter your home country with your SA passport, and then enter and exit the country where your second passport has less visa restrictions.
In South Africa it's illegal to enter and leave on a different passport so do try not to be gangster!