Do you need to show a valid visa to Immigration authorities when you are moving out of country? For example I am citizen of country B and have been staying in country A for work. So when I am moving out of country A and have no plans to come back do I still need to hold a valid visa of country A?

  • 3
    @Erwin Country A is Canada and Country B is India.
    – Sam
    Dec 11 '20 at 23:48
  • Canada, like the US, does not require you to have a valid visa to be in the country. The visa only needs to be valid when you enter. When you're admitted, you're admitted for a certain period. The expiration of that period determines when you must leave or apply for an extension, not the expiration of the visa.
    – phoog
    Dec 12 '20 at 20:55
  • Please do not edit the countries into the question as that would invalidate several of the answers.
    – Willeke
    Dec 14 '20 at 4:59

To put the other answers into context in light of your mentioning that the country in question is Canada, I would point out that the expiration of a Canadian visa does not make the bearer's presence in Canada unlawful. The allowed period of stay, which is determined by the immigration officer at the time of entry, is not bound to the visa's period of validity.

Before the end of the period of authorized stay, the visitor is supposed to leave or to apply for an extension. Taking extensions into account, it's possible to remain in Canada indefinitely with a long-expired visa.

  • 3
    But extending the expiration date means that the visa isn't expired.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 14 '20 at 0:52
  • 1
    @RonJohn the point is that visa validity duration and period of stay duration are not one and the same. Dec 14 '20 at 4:32
  • @RonJohn The visa is to let you in, not to stay. I have been in multiple countries with expired visas, nobody cares. On the flip side, I have a visa valid far longer than I would be allowed to stay. Dec 14 '20 at 4:42
  • 2
    @RonJohn a visa is a risk for a country, a risk of someone overstaying and being in the country illegally. To get a visa (at least for some countries, notably the USA) you need to show proof of a travel itinerary and sometimes even prove that you have residence in and ties to your home country as well as the means necessary to return home. All of these things can and do change over time. If I (hypothetically) apply and get a visa when I have a stable job and own a home, who says that will be the same in a couple years time?
    – MindSwipe
    Dec 14 '20 at 6:58
  • 2
    @RonJohn Example: My passport holds a Chinese visa--10 year/60 day multi-entry. The visa is good for 10 years from the date it was issued (yes, this inherently exceeds the validity of the passport--it's still valid, though), but I can only stay 60 days each time I visit. I would not be permitted to stay there the 10 years of the visa validity, but they have no problem with us going there every year on it. Dec 15 '20 at 1:00

There are probably three different questions in here

  1. do I still need to hold a valid visa of country A?

Your presence in country A must be legal at all times. In this regard exiting the country is no different then going to the super market. As long your are physically present, you need legal authorization to do so. This may require a Visa or Esta or permit etc, or nothing at all depending on the countries involved.

As long as you are legally in the country, you can legally exit (unless there are some pending criminal charges, tax evasion, etc., i.e. there is a court ruling that requires you to stay).

  1. Assuming I'm illegal, will I get caught when I try to exit

Depends a lot on the country, local policies and the way you exit. Some countries (e.g. US) don't have exit controls but they still may leverage airlines to check and record exits. Other countries have pretty strict exit controls (e.g. China). Some border crossing have no controls at all.

  1. What will happen when I get caught

Depends a lot on the country and on the specifics of your infraction. Most countries consider illegal presence to be a serious crime. Consequences range from a slap on the wrist to jail time.

  • 1
    There are several countries that require exit visas, either for their own citizens or foreign residents. In the twentieth century this was common throughout the Soviet Union, but is now limited to a handful of countries like North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
    – Calchas
    Dec 12 '20 at 18:24
  • 1
    @Calchas It’s a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own.”
    – Mike Scott
    Dec 12 '20 at 19:32
  • In Canada, as in the US, the validity of a visa (or eTA or ESTA) has no bearing on the legality of the person's presence. The visa (or electronic authorization) need only be valid at the time of entry.
    – phoog
    Dec 12 '20 at 20:50
  • 4
    @MikeScott the UDHR has no force of law in any country that I'm aware of (which is only a few countries). Regardless, the right to leave one's own country does not preclude an exit visa requirement.
    – phoog
    Dec 12 '20 at 20:51

This is highly dependent on the country, but authorities will often want to check that you didn't overstay.

If you did, the immediate consequences could range from nothing at all (they're happy you're leaving) to a fine (often computed as an amount per day over the allowed stay) to jail time (though countries usually prefer to throw people out rather than feed them -- but it may be the consequence of not being able or willing to pay the fine).

There's also a big chance the overstayer will be banned from returning for a period that could range from months to forever. Even if not outright banned, it will usually make future visa applications more difficult, as you would be considered not to be trustworthy.

Note that some countries share such data with others, so even if you don't intend to ever return to said country (and never is a very long time), it could affect your prospects elsewhere.

Some countries do not have exit checks at all (the US and the UK, notably), so there's very little chance you could be fined or prevented from leaving (unless you are wanted for other reasons, of course), but they will know when you left and will be aware of any overstays with the same consequences as above in terms of possible bans or difficulty re-applying.

  • 1
    For example in Canada you get a work permit / student permit to stay legally. That determines your length of stay. The document specifies that certain date by which you should leave. In that case Visa becomes a travel document if you want to renter Canada. What would you suggest in that case? Still visa required? The reason I am asking is when you apply to extend your stay they don't issue a Visa but work permit or student permit etc.
    – Sam
    Dec 11 '20 at 13:13
  • 1
    @Sam, Ah, I think I now understand your issue. You don't need a visa in addition to a work permit. The work permit acts as a visa. If it's still valid, just present it at the border if requested (I don't know if the work permit is a separate document or a sticker/stamp in the passport). If the work permit is expired, then you have a problem.
    – jcaron
    Dec 11 '20 at 13:18
  • Work permit is a seperate document other than the Visa stamped on passport. Also during the journey there are layovers and you board different flights. Will they check for the Valid Visa there? For example if you move from Canada to India you may have a layover at London or Frankfurt or Paris or Amsterdam etc.
    – Sam
    Dec 11 '20 at 14:07
  • The airline only worry about your right to enter the destination country and transit at layover points. Unless you need a visa (from the country you are transiting through) at one of the layover points (because the flights are in separate bookings or you change airports, stay overnight, or other reason to go through passport control in one of those countries, or you need an airport transit visa), they don’t care much. You can check visa requirements for all transit points using iatatravelcentre.com
    – jcaron
    Dec 11 '20 at 14:23
  • If you need a transit visa at any layover point, there are often exceptions for people going to/coming from Canada with a work permit or visa from Canada. Other than that specific situation, airlines won’t care about a visa for Canada.
    – jcaron
    Dec 11 '20 at 14:25

Exit visas exist:

Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all have an exit visa requirement for alien foreign workers. This is part of their kafala work visa sponsorship system. Consequently, at the end of a foreign worker's employment period, the worker must secure clearance from their employer stating that the worker has satisfactorily fulfilled the terms of their employment contract or that the worker's services are no longer needed. The exit visa can also be withheld if there are pending court charges that need to be settled or penalties that have to be meted out.

  • Exactly. For instance, countries that are part of the Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement have exit fees, and exit fines if you overstayed.
    – magma
    Dec 14 '20 at 7:11

You should have a valid document which allows you to stay in country A on the day you are leaving it. It doesn't necessarily have to be a visa (you could get extensions, residence permits etc. while you reside in the country, it could even be the passport of the country B in certain conditions), but there must be one.

While some countries may have lax practices regarding visa checks upon departure, this is not something you should rely on. You can still be subject to a random security check, or get your papers checked for an unrelated reason, and you will be in trouble if you can't justify your presence in the country.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.