What is the change? Government offices will close this month in a number of Muslim countries for the Day of Arafah and the Eid al-Adha holiday.

What does the change mean? Employers and foreign nationals who need government services should submit applications as soon as possible to avoid holiday-related delays.

  • Implementation time frame: Saudi Arabia recently announced that the holiday period would begin at the end of the Aug. 24 working day. Offices will remain closed through Sept. 9. Government closures vary from country to country, however, and are likely to be shorter in other countries.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas, permits and other immigration-related government services.
  • Who is affected: Anyone needing to obtain visas, work permits, renewals or other immigration-related government services.
  • Impact on processing times: Delays should be expected due to office closures and possible backlogs after offices reopen.
  • Business Impact: Holiday delays may impact business schedules and start dates.
  • Next steps: A number of countries are expected to announce the exact dates in the near future.

Background: The Day of Arafah, which will be celebrated Aug. 31 this year, is considered the holiest day of Islam and falls on the second day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Day of Arafah is followed by Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice is son to God. Eid al-Adha is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid-e-Ghorban, Kurban Bayramı or Hari Raya, among other names. Closures vary from country to country, and in most countries that celebrate the holiday, government offices will be closed for at least two days. Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates – are likely to follow Saudi Arabia’s schedule, though in some instances the holiday period will be shorter.

This year’s holiday comes as Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other countries are in a diplomatic standoff with Qatar, but Saudi officials have said Qatari nationals will be able to travel to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.

BAL Analysis: Affected companies and foreign employees should check with their local officials for the exact dates when offices will be closed. Government services tend to slow down, especially in Saudi Arabia, throughout the Hajj season when millions of pilgrims arrive there and many government officials undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca themselves. Embassies and consulates around the world will also mark the holiday, though schedules will vary. Overseas applicants should contact their relevant embassy or consulate for specific holiday schedules. Those in need of immigration services should submit applications as soon as possible in order to minimize delays.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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