Consular Processing over the Holidays

December 10, 2001 - As a result of recent security measures, many U.S. Consulates abroad have changed their procedures in issuing non-immigrant visas.

People considering travel abroad over the holidays should take this into account when planning their trip. If a new visa is needed, especially at a consulate where you have not previously applied for a visa, be prepared for delays. While the basic requirements for the contents of a visa application have not changed since September, many consulates have recently revised their rules as to how applications should be submitted. (Paris, for example, has closed its drop box for some types of applications, and only returns packages by mail.) In addition, delays of 20 days or more for security and background checks can be expected for people from certain countries (i.e., 16 to 45 year old nationals of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen). Bottom line--visa processing may take longer than it has in the past.

Advance research can help: it's always a good idea to check the website of the consulate where you will apply before you leave the US, check on current procedures, and give yourself enough time to wait for the visa. Also, keep in mind that a consul may decline to consider visa applications from people who are not citizens of the country where the consulate is located. If possible, schedule an appointment at the consulate near the start of your stay overseas, and keep your return date open.

For those who don't need to travel over the holidays, visa revalidation with the Department of State should be considered.


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