How To Apply For A Pilgrimage Visa

Pilgrimage Visa The pilgrimage visa is one of the most sought-after tourist visas by travelers and tourists alike. It’s an excellent way to visit several holy sites in a short period and doesn’t require a fixed date or specific location. In theory, you could go on a pilgrimage any time and anywhere, so long as you have the motivation and the money to travel. However, for many people, this may not be possible. If you are considering applying for a pilgrimage visa, here are some helpful tips:

How To Apply For A Pilgrimage Visa

Most people in the U.S. don’t often make an extended trip to a foreign country, but for some people, that’s precisely what it needs to be. Pilgrimage visas are limited to those who can show that they have a genuine reason to travel to their destination and not just go there for vacation or business purposes. To qualify for a pilgrimage visa, you’ll need to provide documentation from religious faith or another recognized source that shows your reasons for traveling are sincere and not simply an excuse to visit a foreign country again and again. The pilgrimage visa is usually valid for three months from entry unless the embassy you’re applying to specifies otherwise. Keep in mind that countries might require additional missionary visits on top of this length of time before they will approve your request. If you hope to apply for a pilgrimage visa, we suggest taking the time to research your target destination thoroughly first. Contact various embassies and determine if there are any requirements before you start planning your trip. Read on our page with all the necessary information about how to get a pilgrimage visa in the U.S.

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What is a Pilgrimage Visa?

A pilgrimage visa is a special visa issued by a foreign country to those who make a special request to visit that country for religious reasons. Generally, this is granted after the applicant validly establishes a connection with the religious community there. There are many different forms of pilgrimage, and each has its own set of requirements to qualify for a visa. The most common form is the “first-time” pilgrimage, which is intended for people who have never visited a particular country or a specific city in the past and want to go there again for the first time. If you’re only planning a once-off pilgrimage, then the “companion” form of pilgrimage is often used.

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Pilgrimage Visa by Country 

Here are some of the countries that provide pilgrimage visas: 

  •     Saudi Arabia Umrah and Hajj Visa. 
  •     Pakistani Pilgrimage Visa. 
  •     India Pilgrim Visa. 
  •     China Pilgrim Visa. 

Umrah and Hajj visas for Saudi Arabia

If you are a Muslim pilgrim and wish to undertake the Umrah or the Hajj, you may apply for an Umrah or Hajj visa. Your pilgrimage visa will be valid for two weeks, and Saudi Arabia oversees the visa application procedure. It would help if you did it through a recognized travel operator.

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Pakistani Visa for Pilgrimage

You can visit Pakistan's holy sites using online permission and a Pakistani pilgrimage visa. This visa is open to citizens of 191 nations; moreover, Indian nationals who reside in third countries are also eligible.

Please be aware that even if you apply online, you must visit a Pakistani embassy or consulate no later than two days after you do so. Be careful to check your email for the next steps periodically.

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India Pilgrim Visa

This visa is only issued for a group of people (more than 10), so you need to apply through a visa agency for an organized visit. You and your group can visit all the important religious places in India during your stay, but you cannot go on separate holidays from your group.

China Pilgrim Visa 

You can now apply for a Chinese pilgrimage visa if you are an Indian Hindu undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrimage. However, you must submit a group application to qualify for the visa— no individual applications are accepted. 

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How to Apply for a Pilgrimage Visa

If you’re interested in applying for a pilgrimage visa, you’ll need to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate in your home country. Each country has requirements for when and how to apply for a pilgrimage visa, and you’ll need to check the rules in your own country. To be considered for a pilgrimage visa, you'll need a valid passport at least six months old. You must have been living in the country you’re traveling to for at least six months before you apply. You must maintain a continuous physical presence in the host country for the required period. You must have a good reason for visiting the country that’s part of your pilgrimage.

  • Contact a travel agency. You can’t apply for a pilgrimage visa on your own unless there’s an eVisa option. For this reason, you need to contact an authorized travel agency that can submit the visa application on your behalf. 
  •     Fill out the application form. Your travel agency will provide you with the required application materials and a list of the required documents. Fill out the form as per the instructions with all your up-to-date information. 
  •     Submit your application. After completing the application form and preparing your documents, you can submit your application via the travel agency.
  •     Complete the final steps. Some countries require you to register in an online system as a pilgrim, and now because of Covid, they may need you to fill out an online form regarding your medical history and vaccinations. 

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Online Pilgrimage Visa

Some countries provide the option to apply online for a pilgrimage visa. In this case, you don’t need to find an approved agency, but you must be careful when you fill out the online permit. Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to write your correct details. 

What Countries Appear on the Visa Waiver Program?

You’ll usually apply for a pilgrimage visa at your home country's embassy or consulate. However, some countries that are part of the “B” version of the Visa Waiver Program (i.e., not in the Schengen Area) might apply to you when you’re outside your home country. Contact the embassy or consulate in your home country for more information about what countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program.

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How to Check if You’re a Qualified Pilgrim

Once you’ve applied for a pilgrimage visa and been told you qualify, the next step is to check if you’re a qualified pilgrim. You can do this by examining the requirements of the country you’re visiting and trying to meet as many of them as possible. The countries that you can see as a qualified pilgrim depends on the specific religion you adhere to and the places where those places are recognized as a holy site. You can read more about that on our page with all the necessary information about how to get a pilgrimage visa in the U.S. Here are a few examples: If you’re Catholic, you can visit Santiago de Compostela in Spain. If you’re a Jew or Muslim, you can call your respective national holy site. If you’re Presbyterian, you can see the University of Minnesota in the U.S.

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How Long Does a Pilgrimage Visa Stay Valid?

Once you’ve been permitted to enter the country, your stay there is usually limited to the length of the visa you were issued. The Visa Waiver Program allows countries to set their own rules about this, but most countries will enable you to return to your home country once the visa is up. In some cases, the authorities might also request to see some additional paperwork about your trip to ensure you didn’t break the law or overstay your visa. This typically happens if you’re suspected of overstaying your visa or violating the rules about how long you can stay in the country. If this happens, you can request an emergency conversation with the consular staff at the embassy or consulate in your home country. If they decide to give you a new visa, they’ll check the information you provided against the new rules and regulations.

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What Documents Do I Need for a Pilgrimage Visa?

You need several documents for your pilgrim visa application, including the following: 

  •     Visa application form. 
  •     Passport with six months validity. 
  •     Passport-sized pictures. 
  •     Travel health insurance. 
  •     Vaccination records and medical exams. 

How Much Does a Pilgrimage Visa Cost?

Pilgrimage visa fees can go between $20 and $100, depending on the visa type. Most countries issue pilgrim visas free of charge, but the traveling package can go up to $3,000. 
Pilgrimage Visa Validity

A pilgrimage visa is valid from two weeks to 45 days. The validity period depends on how long it takes you to complete your pilgrimage. Please note that you must respect your visa’s expiry date, or you might be fined or even arrested.

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Common Denial Reasons for Pilgrimage Visa 

A few of the most common reasons why your pilgrimage visa application may be rejected include: 

  •     You do not meet the eligibility requirements. 
  •     You put down incorrect information on your application.
  •     You do not have the required amount to pay for the pilgrimage.

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Conclusion

Pilgrimage visas are special visas issued by foreign countries to those who make a special request to visit that country for religious reasons. To qualify for a pilgrimage visa, you’ll need to provide documentation from religious faith or another recognized source that shows your reasons for traveling are sincere and not simply an excuse to visit a foreign country again and again. The pilgrimage visa is usually valid for three months from entry unless the embassy you’re applying to specifies otherwise. Keep in mind that countries might require additional missionary visits on top of this length of time before they will approve your request.