Saudi visa applicants facing new hurdles

16 Nov 15

SAUDI ARABIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Foreign nationals applying for visas at Saudi Arabian embassies and consulates have encountered new documentation requirements and restrictions on how long visa applicants, particularly women, can remain in the country.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals should apply for visas early, expect delays, anticipate requests for additional documentation and be as flexible as possible in their travel plans.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: The changes may affect a number of immigration-related services, but have impacted business visa applications in particular.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for Saudi Arabian business visas.
  • Impact on processing times: There is no indication that processing times themselves have been affected, but requests for additional information have in some instances prolonged application processes.
  • Business impact: The changes may make business travel to Saudi Arabia more difficult.
  • Next steps: BAL is seeking additional information, but the Saudi visa-application processes appear to be in flux. Applicants should expect delays.

Background: In recent weeks, Saudi embassies and consulates have made a number of changes in practice affecting foreign nationals traveling to the country. Examples include: frequently changing supporting documentation requirements, including requests for new or reformatted letters of intent; reducing the permissible duration of stay for women applying for visas to 90 days; and refusing applications from expatriates applying for stays of more than 30 days. Policies and practices may vary from consulate to consulate, and business travelers may need to be flexible in responding to requests.

BAL Analysis: Visa applicants are advised to submit applications as early as possible and be prepared to respond to requests for additional or reformatted documentation. If possible, visa applicants should submit applications at consulates in their home countries in order to avoid additional restrictions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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