UK, Canada close embassies in Egypt, suspending services

12 Dec 14

UNITED KINGDOM, GLOBAL

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Canadian and British embassies in Egypt have halted public services due to unspecified security concerns.

What does the change mean? Until further notice, both Canada and the United Kingdom have suspended all activities, including visa applications and document services.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas.
  • Who is affected: Individuals applying for visas or consular services at the British or Canadian embassies in Egypt.
  • Impact on processing times: Depending on how long the embassies are closed, the suspension in services could have a significant impact on processing of new applications.
  • Business impact:The closures will impact business travelers who need consular services at the embassies.
  • Next steps: The embassies have not announced when they will reopen. The British Consulate-General in Alexandria remains open. The British Embassy has provided a phone number for British nationals and the Canadian Embassy directs Canadian nationals to emergency services.

Background: On Dec. 7, the British Embassy in Cairo announced that it would temporarily close and suspend services. The next day, the Canadian Embassy followed, citing security concerns. The British Embassy said it is taking steps to improve the physical security of the building before it reopens and has asked the public not to visit the building until further notice. Officials said that new visa applications are not being accepted and that individuals with pending applications should expect delays in getting their passports back. Applicants who have already been notified that their passports are ready to be picked up can do so at the Visa Application Center, but it is only open for accepting inquiries and returning passports.

The closure of these two embassies could prompt other Western countries to close their embassies. The U.S. Embassy remains open, but it posted a security message to U.S. citizens Dec. 4, reminding them to be alert to their surroundings and recommending that embassy staff “carefully scrutinize their personal movements and consider staying close to their residences and neighborhoods over the coming period.”

BAL Analysis: If the closures are prolonged, visa applicants will face long delays or have to apply outside Egypt. The British Embassy is advising those applying for Visit Visas that they may apply at any other country that has a Visa Application Center and is recommending that those applying for other visa types apply in Jordan or the United Arab Emirates.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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