American travelers no longer visa-exempt

4 Mar 15

UNITED STATES, VENEZUELA

IMPACT – LOW 

What is the change? Venezuela is no longer extending visa-exempt status to American visitors and will reduce the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

What does the change mean? American citizens must apply for tourist visas at their nearest Venezuelan consulate and fulfill all visa requirements before traveling, including greater documentation and payment of new government visa fees.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Who is affected: U.S. citizens and Venezuelan citizens.
  • Impact on processing times: The new measures create administrative hurdles and greater documentation for Americans. The reduction of staff at the U.S. Embassy will lengthen processing times for Venezuelans applying for visas to the U.S. and for Americans in Venezuela seeking services from the embassy.
  • Business impact: American business travelers who previously relied on the visa waiver to make short business trips to Venezuela can no longer do so.
  • Next steps: The Venezuelan Consulate in Washington, D.C. must release the requirements for Americans to apply for tourist visas.

Background: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the new restrictions Feb. 27.

In addition to removing Americans from the list of travelers who are visa-exempt, the new rules will impose visa fees on American tourists and limit the number of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Maduro said the measures reciprocate the fees (US$160) Venezuelans pay to apply for visas to enter the U.S. Previously, Americans could enter Venezuela visa-free for up to 90 days.

Relations between the two countries have soured as they continue to exchange accusations. Maduro has blamed Venezuela’s domestic instability on American meddling. In 2002, former president Hugo Chavez fingered former president George W. Bush for being behind a coup attempt that ousted him from power for 48 hours.

The U.S. recently banned several top Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses from traveling to the U.S. In response, Maduro will also ban a number of American politicians from entering Venezuela, including Bush, former vice president Dick Cheney, former CIA director George Tenet and Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio.

BAL Analysis: America travelers will have to allow more time before travel to complete the consular visa process, while Venezuelan nationals should anticipate significantly longer lines and slower processing of visa applications to the U.S.

This alert has been provided by BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Venezuela. For additional information please contact your BAL attorney.

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