IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Iraq’s Ministry of Interior has issued a new regulation that visa approval letters will automatically expire after 90 days of their issuance date.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals need a letter of approval to apply for and “activate” a multi-entry visa after they enter Iraq so that they may travel in and out of the country. The new policy applies to all letters of approval issued Dec. 19 and later and means that foreign employees have three months after their letter’s issuance to apply for a multi-entry visa

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: All Iraqi visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals entering Iraq who need to apply for a multi-entry visa.
  • Business impact: Foreign employees should be notified of the time-sensitive nature of needing to enter Iraq within three months of the approval letter issuance date and applying for their multi-entry visas.
  • Next steps: Foreign employees with approval letters issued after Dec. 19 who do not apply for their multi-entry visa within three months of the letter’s issuance will need to obtain a new letter in order to enter Iraq or renew their visas. There are no exceptions to this new rule. However, letters of approval issued before the new regulation will retain their validity period.

Background: Previously, letters of approval were generally issued with a validity of six months or one year, allowing foreign nationals to travel to Iraq and activate their multi-entry visas any time during that period.

BAL Analysis: The Ministry of Interior is rolling out numerous changes and the new rule is consistent with other recent changes, including new penalties for late visa activation and for visa overstays.