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It came as a shock last week to discover that Malaysians may have to pay RM1,200 for a visa to Britain. Sunday Star lists some of the other countries that impose the visa rule.
WOULD you fork out RM1,200 for a visa?
That is the visa-processing fee the British Government is planning to impose on Malaysians from 2011. No surprise why many Malaysians are up in arms over it.
As reported last week, the British authorities are mulling over the visa rule in response to the "critical" number of Malaysian overstayers in the UK. (There is an estimated 20,000-30,000 Malaysian overstayers in Britain now.)
It is no wonder that the British Home Office has put Malaysia in an inglorious offender list, which includes Brazil, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Venezuela.
Last year, Malaysian authorities announced an "amnesty" programme to allow the offenders to return home without facing any charges. The only punishment is to be barred from visiting Britain for five years, or leaving Malaysia for two. The response, nevertheless, was lukewarm and now genuine travellers have to pay the price.
Still, although the purported RM1,200 visa fee is the highest yet, Malaysians are used to applying and paying for a visa before entering some countries.
The United States
To travel to the US, you have to pay a non-refundable visa fee of US$131 (fixed at RM460 equivalent) and a service fee of RM32. Travellers are also required to find the proper visa classification for their US stay based on their purpose of travel in order to ensure smooth entry.
There are 11 categories including Business, Pleasure, Internship and Media. A visa waiver programme is available for emergency or transit reasons.
The programme also allows citizens of 35 countries to travel to the US for business or pleasure for stays of not more than 90 days. Unfortunately, Malaysia is not one of those countries.
All travellers, except New Zealand citizens, must obtain a visa before travelling to Australia. Malaysians are eligible for the ETA or Electronic Travel Authority, which is equivalent to a visa, but has no stamp or label in your passport. The ETA can be applied directly through the Internet or through travel agents or airlines.
There is no application fee but a AUS$20 (RM61.13) service charge applies.
With an ETA, a Malaysian can stay in Australia for tourism or business purposes for up to three months on each visit within a 12 month period from the date of grant.
Those who plan to visit China for sightseeing and visiting relatives need to apply for a tourist visa. This visa, which is usually valid for a maximum of 90 days, costs RM30 for a single entry and RM50 for double entries and RM120.00 for multiple entries for a year.
The regular processing time is four working days but those who require their visa earlier can pay extra for an express service: RM140 for a one-working day processing and RM100 for two to three working days. No visa is required for Hong Kong and Macau.
You can read more about Visa for China.
India is another country that requires Malaysians to apply for a visa before entering. You even have to get a visa for transit, which costs RM76 and is valid for 15 days from date of issue. Tourist visas are available at RM152 for a validity of up to six months. Those who want to travel to India for business or employment purposes are required to pay RM456 for visas with a validity of up to a year.
Since 1993, Malaysians have been encouraged to obtain a visa before entering Japan. The visa-exemption arrangements between Japan and Malaysia have allowed Malaysians to enter Japan without a visa for a period of stay not exceeding three consecutive months.
However, in order to cope with the large number of Malaysians who overstay in Japan and work illegally, the Government of Japan decided to encourage Malaysian nationals to obtain visa prior to entry into Japan. The visa is free of charge.
No visa required
Many countries around the world have waived the visa rule for Malaysians on the basis of a shared heritage (Commonwealth and Asean countries) or special agreement between the governments. Many European Union countries have opened their doors to Malaysia due to its "history'with the UK. Hence, our "Free" entry into the other EU countries might be affected should Britain implement the new visa rule.
Here are some of the countries which allow Malaysians to enter without a visa:
WE may moan and rant but some of us are guilty of misbehaving abroad 'the abuse of the British no-visa rule is an example.
According to news reports, Malaysian passports make up the biggest number of fake passports seized at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. Our passports have even gained a reputation for being one of the easiest to buy on the black market in the region.
And while there was a decline in the number of Malaysians barred entry at British immigration counters - which recorded an all-time high of an average 135 individuals a month in 2006 - last year saw a monthly average of 69 Malaysians being forced to turn back at the UK arrival gates and fly straight out.
As much as it hurts, Britain cannot be faulted for taking tougher measures against foreign nationals who abuse their hospitality by overstaying. Our own authorities have taken action against foreigners abusing our laws and overstaying here.
Source: Foreign Affairs Ministry, Malaysia and individual consulate websites.
This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.