The Hardest Visa to Get: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re planning to travel, study or work abroad, obtaining a visa is often the first step you need to take. However, visa processes are different for each country, and some visas are notoriously difficult to get. This guide will take a deep dive into the hardest visa to get and why they are challenging.

Key Takeaways

  • Many countries have difficult visa processes that require extensive paperwork, background checks, or significant financial investments.
  • Some of the most challenging visas to get include the United States H-1B visa, the Australian Skilled Independent Visa, and the Chinese R Visa.
  • The difficulty in obtaining various visas can be influenced by factors such as political climate, economic goals, and the applicant’s qualifications.
  • Consulting a legal professional or immigration expert can be helpful when attempting to secure a particularly challenging visa.

United States H-1B Visa

The United States H-1B visa grants temporary work visas to foreign nationals with specialized skills. While the H-1B visa has been crucial in attracting foreign talent to the US, obtaining one has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

Every year the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects a limited number of H-1B visa applications from a pool of eligible candidates. According to the USCIS, the federal agency that approves H-1B visa petitions, the demand for these visas has exceeded the supply, which has resulted in an H-1B lottery system to select candidates randomly.

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This system can be frustrating for international students and businesses, as there is no guarantee that their application will be chosen. Additionally, the Trump administration policies on immigration have led to increased scrutiny on H-1B visas, making it even more challenging to obtain one.

Australian Skilled Independent Visa

The Australian Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189) is a points-based visa that is granted to skilled workers who do not have employer sponsorship. The visa process is complex, requiring applicants to undergo skill assessments and only those with high scores are selected.

Furthermore, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs capped the number of eligible applicants and increased the minimum score for selection. With the bar set higher and fewer spots available, the visa process for Australia’s Skilled Independent Visa has become more challenging.

Chinese R Visa

China’s R visa has only been available since 2017, and it is notoriously difficult to get. The R visa is granted to top-tier foreign talents who qualify as high-level managers or specialists within companies located in China.

However, the Chinese government’s interpretation of the requirements for the R visa is often ambiguous, which has made it challenging for many applicants to meet the criteria. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions on international travel into China, which has made the R visa process even more difficult for those looking to relocate to the country.

Factors That Influence Visa Difficulty

Visa difficulty can be influenced by various factors, including:

  • Political climate: Governments can make changes that can impact visa availability and requirements.
  • Economic goals: Certain countries have visa policies to attract skilled workers or foreign investment to their economy.
  • Qualifications: Eligibility for certain visas may require specific qualifications or experience, which might not be fulfilled by all applicants.
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For example, the United Kingdom launched a new visa category in 2021, the Global Talent Visa, designed to attract skilled individuals in the fields of engineering, medicine, and technology to the UK. The government created this visa to support its “ambitious plans for a dynamic, agile, and outward-looking UK economy.”

Seeking Professional Help

Navigating the visa process can be confusing and stressful. Seeking professional help from an immigration lawyer or expert can be helpful, especially when applying for particularly challenging visas.

Immigration lawyers and experts can offer guidance on which visas may be suitable for an applicant, provide checklist of documentation, and help proofread application letters to ensure they meet the appropriate standards.


Obtaining a visa can be challenging, and some are notably more difficult than others. While the difficulty of visas can vary depending on a country’s needs, policies and political climate, applicants can take steps to boost their chances by being informed, appropriately prepared, and seeking professional assistance. By following these guidelines, the visa process can be a smoother and more successful process.


Why is it essential to seek professional help for challenging visas?

The visa application process can be complicated, and missing even a small detail on the application can result in rejection. Consulting with an immigration lawyer or expert can help ensure application completeness, accuracy, and compliance with laws, rules, and regulations.

What are some other countries with difficult visa processes?

Other countries with complicated visa procedures include Russia, India, Brazil, and Venezuela. Each country has its own requirements and eligibility criteria, which can make obtaining a visa more challenging.

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About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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