What is the change? The United States Embassy in Riyadh was closed for the fourth consecutive day March 18 as a result of “heightened security concerns” at American diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia.

What does the change mean? Along with the embassy’s closure, consular services in Jeddah and Dhahran have also been suspended and the embassy’s telephone lines have remained offline. Saudi and other foreign nationals should expect delays during the suspension of consular services.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All consular services.
  • Impact on processing times: The embassy and consulates have postponed visa interviews, and applicants should expect delays.
  • Business impact: Business travelers applying for visas to the U.S. should expect longer delays and potential disruptions.

Background: As a result of an unknown security threat against the U.S. Embassy, all diplomatic and consular facilities were closed March 15 and 16. The closure was extended indefinitely March 17. The embassy also warned U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia to be aware of their surroundings, avoid large gatherings in public and take extra precautions when traveling throughout the country. “The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country,” the U.S. Embassy said in a March 16 statement. An update is expected in the coming days.

BAL Analysis: Depending on the duration of the closures, the suspension of consular services may create a backlog of applications and interviews, which could delay processing in the weeks to come. Business travelers should plan accordingly if required to obtain a visa ahead of travel to the U.S.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Saudi Arabia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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