6 Types of Temporary Visas

Last Updated:  • Published  •

If you are moving abroad for work or study, you are likely classified as a temporary resident, unless you possess permanent residency or citizenship in your destination country.

6 Types of Temporary Visas

Note: This article uses the term “visa” and “permit” interchangeably, as different countries around the world use either term exclusively, although sometimes interchangeably.

Temporary visas can be applied for and are granted to individuals for foreign nationalities up to a certain period for specific purposes. Here are six common types of temporary visas.

1. Visitor Visa

A visitor visa allows you to visit and stay in a country temporarily. A visitor visa:

  • Can be issued for a period of anywhere between several days to a couple years
  • Can be issued for or a single or multiple entries, although typically the duration in which a visitor can stay per a single entry only lasts a couple months at most. Overstaying an entry may result in deportation, visa cancellation, and possibly future troubles in re-entering the country and other countries.

Individuals on visitor visas are also usually not allowed to obtain any local employment. Depending on the country, visitor visas allow its holders to do the following:

  • Tourism activities
  • Social visit activities (e.g. meeting up with families and friends)
  • Short-term business activities (e.g. meeting, job training)
  • Medical treatment
  • Short-term educational programs (e.g. courses, seminars)

2. Work Permit

A work permit allows a individuals with foreign nationalities to be employed and become part of the workforce in a country. It is typically issued with a validity lasting several years and may or may not be renewable, depending on the type of visa.

Some countries offer open work permits, which allow its holders the right to work for any employer in the country. It also does not require employers to sponsor the foreign national for the visa, which eases the job seeking process for the holder of the permit. A popular example of an open work permit is the working holiday visa, but depending on the country where it is issued, there is a limit as to the number of times it can be applied for or renewed. Oftentimes, the working holiday visa is only offered to selected nationalities.

Some countries only offer closed work permits, which has to be applied for by an employer for its prospective employee with foreign nationality. To obtain this type of work permit, a prospective employee often has to demonstrate to an employer (and possibly the government as well) that they possess a particular skillset or desirability that warrants the employer to hire them and go through with the visa application process instead of hiring from the local workforce. This type of work permit also ties the employee’s residency to their job and employer. If they were to resign or let go, they might have to leave the country unless they are sponsored by another company, or they continue to remain in the country using other types of visas.

You can read more about this here: The Two Main Types of Visa to Work Abroad

3. Study Permit

A study permit allows its holders to study in a country as an international student. It is usually issued for the length of a study program or the until the expiry of a passport, and is renewable or extendable only if there are remaining courses to complete in an academic program or if the student decides to continue their study in another program.

Some countries do not holders of study permits to participate in any local employment, while some others do on a limited employment basis. What this means is that study permit holders may be allowed to work only in the academic institution they are studying in, or work off-campus but at a limited capacity (for example, a maximum of 20 hours per week).

4. Spousal Visa

A spousal visa can be applied for by a citizen, permanent resident, or other temporary residents in a country to sponsor their foreign common-law or married partner to live with them. A spousal visa is usually temporary, and can be converted to permanent residency provided certain requirements are met, such as cohabiting with the sponsoring partner for a number of years, as well as providing proofs of a bona fide relationship to immigration offices. Individuals on a spousal visa might allowed to work depending on the country, but oftentimes the sponsoring partner will have to be financially responsible for the sponsored partner for a certain period of time.

5. Entrepreneurship Visa

Some countries like the United Kingdom, offer Innovator / Startup / Entrepreneurship Visas to business owners on a temporary renewable basis, while some other countries may offer permanent residencies right away.

In either case, an entrepreneurship visa has stringent financial requirements and it is not very easy to get for the average everyman. Applicants will often have to demonstrate how their business will benefit the local economy financially, and whether it will contribute the local community by hiring local workforce.

6. Retirement Visa

Like the entrepreneurship visa, some countries offer permanent residencies for retirees but some other like New Zealand may offer temporary retirement visas instead through their Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa program which is valid for up to 2 years at a time, and it can be renewed provided certain financial requirements are met.

Read More

All countries around the world vary in terms of the rules they possess, and all information in this article is presented in a general manner for educational purposes only and does not constitute any personalized immigration, finance, or legal advice. Please feel free to consult the website or embassy of your country of interest to determine which pieces of information in this article apply to it specifically and which does not.

Back to blog

Hey, Ryan here 🇨🇦


Over the past 10 years, I've lived & worked in 5 cities across 3 countries (Previously in 🇸🇬🇮🇩).

More about me here.

27 years old

12 visas & residence permits granted

18 countries & territories visited

12 houses & apartments lived in