As the holiday season begins, with plans to visit family and friends abroad, we remind you that if “home” is outside the US and you need a new visa, some careful planning is necessary.

Employees at US consulates have double holidays –US federal holidays and the holidays of the country in which the consulate is located. Be aware of local seasonal holidays in addition to US holiday closures at your target consulate. Increased travel during the end of year holiday season means careful planning for visa applications because you can expect lengthy waits for appointments and longer delays for return of passports with a new visa.

For example, the U.S. consulate in London recently warned regarding its E-visa holiday schedule:

The E-visa unit will be closed and unable to offer any service from December 23, 2010 – January 4, 2011.

The last available appointment date for an interview for employees including derivative dependants of an approved/registered treaty company in valid status with the U.S. Embassy London scheduled through the Embassy’s appointed Operator Assisted Information Service is on December 22, 2010.

The last available appointment date for an interview scheduled by email for visa applicants and their derivative dependants of a treaty company pending approval/registration at the U.S. Embasy London is on December 17, 2010.

Normal service will resume for all E-visa interviews at 8:00 a.m. on January 5, 2010.

Visa applicants and their personal representatives are advised to please plan their travel accordingly to avoid the inconvenience of a needless journey as no service is available during this period.

A few suggestions:

  • Don’t leave travel plans until the last moment
  • Review the holiday calendar of your target consulate online at state.gov
  • Make your visa appointment as early as possible
  • Be sure you have all the required documents, well-organized, in advance of the appointment date
  • As much as possible, leave time in your holiday plans for the unexpected