What Is an Exit Visa?

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  • Written By: A. Gamm
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Exit visas are official documents given by the government that give a person permission to leave the country. An exit visa typically has a set of prerequisites to be met before one is granted, much like an entry visa, and serves several purposes. It controls the number of citizens leaving the country during political turmoil, prevents political rebels from fleeing the country, and aids in preventing brain drain. Exit visas may also monitor people who have debt to the government and may try and leave the country as well as ensure that people on working visas successfully complete their sponsored employment.

During political trouble, it is normal for refugees to flee and migrate to nearby countries. The exit visa process prevents large numbers of people from leaving the country at once and potentially overwhelming other countries. The visa is also known for preventing political rebels from leaving the country.

Several smaller and developing countries use an exit visa to prevent what is known as brain drain, which is the emigration of skilled and professional citizens to other countries for improved opportunities and living conditions. In this case, it may allow the country a better opportunity to advance to the levels of other countries. It may also be argued, however, that this limits the potential of its own citizens due to the lack of available resources.


Some people may also attempt to leave the country because they have a debt to the country. The application process for the exit visa ensures that no taxes are owed before a person leaves. Many employers also bring workers to the country via sponsorship. To ensure that the employer makes a return on the investment, the government typically must receive formal confirmation that the work was completed to satisfaction. If this does not happen, then the worker is usually not granted an exit visa and sometimes must remain in the country until deportation even if they are no longer working.

Most countries no longer require an exit visa, however, many countries like the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America still do. As of 2011, there is a debate on the ethics of the exit visa and the purpose it serves. Several people believe that this method of monitoring and preventing people from leaving a country goes against standard human rights. In fact, the Declaration of Human Rights notes that everyone has a right to leave any country. Several governments that use the exit visa claim it helps to protect the government, its people and neighboring countries.


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