What is the change? The Islamic month of Ramadan is expected to begin around May 16, causing processing to slow down as offices in countries with majority or significant Muslim populations will curtail their working hours.

What does the change mean? Employers and individuals should anticipate shorter business hours from approximately May 16 through June 14. Offices in many countries will close for three or more days immediately thereafter for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. If possible, employers should file applications to obtain decisions on any urgent cases before Ramadan begins.

  • Implementation time frame: Approximately May 16-June 14. Some countries also begin to slow down one week before Ramadan.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visas, work permits and other immigration-related services.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants should expect reduced working hours and resulting delays in processing.
  • Business impact: Employers should factor in the slower processing when planning start dates and business schedules.

Background: Ramadan is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar and is a time when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and increase time spent in prayer and introspection. The month is expected to begin around May 16, but lunar dates vary by one to two days, depending on local practices. Individual countries typically announce the first day of Ramadan closer to the beginning of the month when actual or predicted moon sightings are confirmed.

Working hours also vary by country and government offices tend to close early. The Eid al-Fitr holiday, immediately following Ramadan, will close offices for three or more days in countries across the Middle East, North and West Africa, and Central and Southeast Asia.

BAL Analysis: Businesses and travelers are encouraged to plan ahead and file time-sensitive applications as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays. Those in need of services should check with individual offices for Ramadan hours when the holiday draws closer.

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

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