With the winter holidays approaching, many foreign national employees are planning to visit family abroad, vacation overseas and perhaps renew their visas while out of the country. Here are a few key reminders as we approach the holiday travel season:

Travelers should be sure to check their passports and visas. Travelers are encouraged to check how much time they must have on their passport to travel to their destination country — a minimum of six months’ validity is required for many countries, including the United States in some cases. Travelers who require a visa to reenter the U.S. should make sure their visa is valid for reentry.

Some consulates remain delayed. Some travelers may be planning to renew visas while abroad. Visa processing has improved substantially since last year, but wait times for business and tourist visas continue to be significant at some consular posts, such as Colombia, India and Mexico. Travelers should consult the appropriate embassy or consulate website for the most up-to-date information regarding appointment availability and requirements for expedited requests.

Administrative processing can delay visa issuance. BAL has seen an improvement in the number of visa applications flagged for additional administrative processing. However, some applications may still require further administrative processing, which typically delays visa applications. Travelers should note that even if a visa renewal is approved at the time of an interview, it may take a few weeks to receive the visa foil. Employers with employees who have an administrative processing case and a particularly urgent need to be in the country should contact BAL.

Travelers should consult entry restrictions for destination countries. While most countries have lifted COVID-19 entry rules, some continue to enforce vaccination and testing requirements. Employees should be aware of their destination country’s requirements and procedures and factor additional time into their travel plans if necessary.

Travelers should review State Department travel advisories. Individuals are encouraged to visit the State Department’s travel advisory website ahead of departure for detailed information about potential travel concerns at their destination.

BAL Analysis: Foreign nationals planning to travel this holiday season should be sure to check their passport and visa validity before leaving the U.S. Those planning to renew visas while abroad should anticipate possible delays; while wait times have improved, some consulates remain backlogged and administrative processing can cause additional delays. Travelers are also urged to review their destination country’s entry requirements and may wish to consult State Department travel warnings. Employers and employees should consult their BAL professional if they have questions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

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