What is the change? The deadline for U.S. and NATO defense contractors to register with the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and to obtain visas has been extended to Sept. 1.

What does the change mean? Contractors who missed the original June 1 deadline now have until Sept. 1 to register, obtain a business license and obtain visas for their employees.

  • Implementation time frame: The deadline was extended last week to Sept. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Business licenses and multi-entry visas.
  • Who is affected: U.S. and NATO contractors planning to remain in Afghanistan past Sept. 1.
  • Impact on processing times: A recent increase in demand for Afghan visas caused processing delays at U.S. consulates; it is possible that the extension could have a positive impact on processing times if there is less of a rush to obtain licenses and visas now that the deadline has been pushed back.
  • Business impact: The extension is a reprieve for contractors who missed the original June 1 deadline.
  • Next steps: Contractors that have not yet registered with AISA or obtained visas should do so as soon as possible.

Background: Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued Presidential Decree # 38 on Dec. 31, 2014, which required U.S. and NATO contractors to register with AISA and obtain a valid business license in order to continue operating in Afghanistan past June 1. The June 1 deadline was extended last week, but authorities stress that it will not be extended again.

Officials acknowledged that AISA licensing requirements might be “onerous,” especially for smaller subcontractors, and recommended that subcontractors with 20 or fewer employees “coordinate with their prime contractors so that they are covered by their prime contractor’s AISA business license.” Once obtained, business licenses are valid for three years.

AISA registration is not only required for those who want to stay in Afghanistan past Sept. 1, but is also a prerequisite contractors must complete before they are able to obtain visas for their employees.

Contractors are encouraged to apply for visas for their employees before the employees enter the country. Visas can be obtained at Afghan embassies and consulates. Contractors already in Afghanistan can apply for visas or visa renewals at the Ministry of Interior Passport Office Visa Section in Kabul. After Sept. 1, contractors will not be able to apply for new visas in Afghanistan unless they can demonstrate via their passport stamp that they entered the country within the past 15 days. Once obtained, visas are valid for one year.

BAL Analysis: Contractors who do not have a valid business license or visa and who intend to stay in Afghanistan past Sept. 1 should apply for licenses and visas as soon as possible. Officials have stressed that there will be no more extensions and that contractors operating without visas could face penalties, including fines.

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

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