By Millicent Lambert –

As a model it is a common thing to travel abroad on a tourist visa to work as a model. Most models have done this at a point in their career and some models do it constantly.

The question remains – is it REALLY worth it?

The lack of proper visas happen when an agency has decided that working visas are an expensive and timely matter. So it seems to be quicker and cheaper to obtain a tourist visa and do the work illegally.

There have been cases where models have been caught out on having the wrong visa, and accordingly penalised:

“In 2014, 60 models were taken into custody in Beijing after a crack down on people working illegally on tourist visas in China. Bejing police held a fake casting where they arrested models who could not produce the appropriate working papers.”

This incident is certainly not just a one-off either. In some markets airport staff know what models look like and so can spot you a mile away. I personally know of models who have been pulled aside and interrogated even when they were just travelling on holiday!

If you are going to cheat the system then you need a good story and a really good poker face.

If you are interrogated and found to be attempting to work abroad illegally, you could be charged and deported. Now lets just let this sink in… If you are deported from a country for attempting to work illegally, not only can you not work there in the future but you also can not go there again. Not even for vacation. 

This is not a subject to take lightly, this can really impact on your freedom to visit countries. Other countries may see that you were deported from another country for working illegally, which could increase your risk of being caught out again.

What are MY thoughts?

Then I decided that actually for me it was just too damn stressful, and so I refused to travel without visas. I now get appropriate visas for ALL my trips.
The risk of being interrogated, charged and deported is just too big for me to feel comfortable with it. This is most definitely a personal choice, but it is also common sense.

A proper working visa IS more expensive than its tourist visa counterpart, and it does take longer to submit and process. So you may have to wait a bit longer before you can jet off.

How much is your piece of mind worth?

“Is it worth the stress of sweating through a flight wondering if you will be discovered before your entry into the country?”

“Is it worth the stress of waiting in the immigration line trying to get your story straight and try not to let your nerves show?”

And seriously, visas for many countries are not really that expensive (The USA visa is really expensive but the chances of being singled out at the airport are also VERY high).

If an agency really likes you (you should only sign with agencies that do) often they may agree to help you get a working visa and may advance the fees associated with it. But you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Personally, I am a very anxious person and so it didn’t take much time to see that the stress of working illegally was not worth the impact it would have on my mind and wellness. I would feel like I had to hold my breath the entire time. Since committing to only work in countries with the appropriate visas, I have started to enjoy my trips so much more.

***Before you decide whether you commit to travelling without a visa, ask yourself: “Is it REALLY worth the risk of being caught out?”

working model visa