IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The Iraqi federal government has established new rules for foreign nationals who are late to file required visa “activation” and medical exams upon arrival in-country.
What does the change mean? The grace period has been extended from seven days to 15 days for foreign nationals to activate their multi exit-entry visas, but the late penalties will apply per diem and can reach up to 5 million dinars (about US$4,200). Previously, a flat penalty of 100,000 dinars applied. Now, 100,000 dinars will be levied immediately after the 15-day deadline and 10,000 dinars per day thereafter, but not to exceed 5 million dinars.
- Implementation time frame: The change took effect Nov. 27.
- Visas/permits affected: Multi exit-entry visas.
- Who is affected: Individuals applying for residence and work authorizations in Iraq, including for federal government work on a Department of State or Department of Defense-sponsored contract.
- Business impact: Employers sending foreign workers to Iraq must ensure that the employee activates the multi-entry visa within the new grace period of 15 days after entry in order to avoid a fine and to allow the work permit application process to commence.
Background: Foreign nationals entering Iraq for work on a multiple-entry visa must complete “visa activation” procedures soon after arriving in Iraq by obtaining a multi exit-entry visa. Under the new policy, they will have 15 days from entry to present their passport with verified medical exam results (blood work for Hepatitis B and C and HIV) to the Ministry of Interior in order to obtain the multi exit-entry visa sticker. The sticker allows employees to exit and re-enter Iraq as many times as needed within the visa validity period.
BAL Analysis: Although the grace period has been lengthened, companies and foreign nationals are encouraged to apply for the multi exit-entry visa as soon as possible upon arrival to avoid penalties and delays to the work permit process.