Venezuela issues stringent visa requirements for US travelers

13 Mar 15

VENEZUELA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Venezuela has issued stringent visa requirements for U.S. nationals applying for tourist visas.

What does the change mean? The new provisions follow Venezuela’s decision to revoke visa-exempt status for American visitors. Applicants should prepare to submit extensive documentation and leave ample time to apply for visas. American business travelers, who previously relied on the visa waiver to make certain business trips to Venezuela, now must apply for a visa.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: S. nationals traveling to Venezuela.
  • Impact on processing times: The new visa requirement significantly increases the time required for planning travel to Venezuela.
  • Business impact: The requirements make it significantly more difficult to plan some types of business trips.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to follow developments between the U.S. and Venezuela that impact travel or visa processing.

Background: President Nicolás Maduro announced in late February that Venezuela would no longer extend visa-exempt status to American visitors and would reduce the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Venezuela subsequently spelled out its specifications for Americans traveling to the country for tourism.

Visa requirements include a passport with at least six months of validity remaining; one passport-sized photo; proof of employment; documents demonstrating ownership of a home, other valuable property or a leasing contract; a bank statement with current balance or a notarized letter from a person or group that will cover the costs of the applicant’s visit; a copy of the applicant’s flight itinerary; and a $30 money order payable to the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

U.S. nationals interested in obtaining a tourist visa must apply in person at consulates in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Venezuelan officials recommend submitting applications at least three months ahead of planned departure.

Those with preexisting or emergency travel plans should provide an explanatory letter describing why they need an expedited visa. Whether such requests will be approved may depend on the individual consulate officer.

The change not only affects tourists, but also some business travelers. Previously, business travelers didn’t need a visa for some business trips, including trips to sign contracts, visit potential business partners or attend conferences. Business travelers now must obtain a visa.

In the meantime, diplomatic and political sparring between the two governments continued this week. President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” and imposing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials. Maduro subsequently sought to secure expanded powers that would allow him to take action against threats to Venezuela.

BAL Analysis: The visa processes that have been put in place – including the requirement for extensive documentation, in-person applications and up to a three-month processing time – make traveling to Venezuela significantly more challenging. U.S. business travelers may be able to use the tourist visa for quick business trips; frequent travelers or longer business trips may require a business visa. Contact your BAL representative to determine the best option.

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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