What is the change? Government offices will close next month in a number of Muslim countries for 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. Those traveling to Saudi Arabia during this time, including those traveling for the Hajj pilgrimage, must have a visa to enter Saudi Arabia unless they are a resident of a Gulf Cooperation Council country.

  • Implementation time frame: Roughly Aug. 19 through Aug. 23. Closures will vary from country to country.
  • 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: Saudi Arabia and other countries are expected to announce the exact dates in the coming weeks. The GCC countries of 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.

Background: Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, will fall on or around Aug. 22, though the exact date has not yet been announced. 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; in most countries that celebrate the holiday, government offices will be closed for at least two days.

Those planning travel to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj must have a valid visa unless they are a resident of a GCC country. Saudi Arabia does issue Hajj visas, though applicants must meet eligibility criteria and the visas are not valid for work or residency.

Saudi Arabia, joined by Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last year, but authorities recently announced that Qatari nationals will be permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj provided they register online first.

BAL Analysis: 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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