What is the change? Iraq’s Ministry of Interior has announced several important changes to rules for foreign nationals. Among them, in-country conversions of single-entry visas to multi-entry visas will no longer be accepted.

What does the change mean? Single-entry visas holders must leave Iraq and re-enter with a letter of authorization, or LOA, to activate a multi-entry visa. This includes all individuals with an expired single-entry visa and multi-entry visa sticker transiting through airports in Iraq, even if they have an active LOA—they must now obtain an exit visa, pay the overstay penalty, leave Iraq and re-enter with a new LOA. Foreign nationals with a single-entry visa or an expired multi-entry visa will no longer be able to fly from Erbil, Al Taqaddum (TQ), Taj, Al Asad or any other location within Iraq and activate their multi-entry visas in Baghdad or Bara; they must fly outside of Iraqi borders and re-enter with a valid LOA.

Additionally, exit visa procedures, which were recently changed, will revert back to previous rules: foreign nationals must show their employer’s original signed and stamped exit visa request letter and pay a flat fee of 500,000 dinars (about US$422) at the airport to get an exit visa without needing to send their passport to the Ministry of Interior office in Baghdad for an exit sticker.

Finally, starting in March, all companies must send a list of all Iraqi visa holders who are no longer working with the company to the Ministry of Interior on a monthly basis. Please note that Iraqi law requires cancellation of all visas of personnel who have left Iraq and the employment of their Iraq visa sponsor, preferably before they depart Iraq.

The Ministry of Interior has been experiencing significant delays in issuing entry visa authorization memorandums due to the backlog of applications being requested.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Single-entry and multi-entry visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals traveling to Iraq and needing to activate a multi-entry visa, and those who will be leaving Iraq or their Iraqi employment
  • Business impact: Companies should factor in the additional time and expense of personnel needing to leave Iraq and re-enter in order to activate their multi-entry visas.
  • Next steps: Companies should identify which employees are affected by the changes, including those who entered on a 30-day single-entry visa, those who are flying from different job sites on a commercial airline using an expired single-entry visa and multi-entry visa and those who received their LOA from Erbil or another location within Iraq, as these individuals must plan to exit the country. Employers should also be prepared to file a report of all former employees holding Iraqi visas to the Ministry of Interior every month.

BAL Analysis: These changes will significantly impact the movement of personnel to and within Iraq. Employers may wish to contact their BAL professional about individual cases. The MOI is expected to issue updates next week. BAL will report additional details as they become available.

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

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