Iraq: Changes to Immigration Regulations for Visitor Visa Holders and Employers

The Ministry of Interior has introduced multiple changes to immigration regulations which affect holders of visitor visas, including: • Reversing an exit visa process, including adding fines for the issuance of an exit visa after the expiry date of the entry visa; • Eliminating the ability to convert a single-entry visa to a multiple-entry visa in-country; and • Issuing entry visas based on approved invitation letters at airports for foreign nationals arriving in Iraq from abroad. The Ministry of Interior is also implementing a monthly reporting requirement for all employers who sponsor foreign nationals.

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Feb 14, 2018
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The situation

The Ministry of Interior has introduced multiple changes to immigration regulations which affect holders of visitor visas and employers.

A closer look

  • Reversal of exit visa process. The authorities have reinstated the process of allowing holders of entry visas and multi-entry exit visas to obtain exit visas at an immigration counter at international airports in Federal Iraq.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals will be able to obtain exit visas more quickly since they do not have to file an exit visa request ahead of time.
  • Fines. The authorities now charge a flat fee of IQD 500,000 per person for the issuance of an exit visa after the expiry of the entry visa. 
    • Impact. Foreign nationals should be aware of the expiry date of their entry visa in order to avoid having to pay this fine.
  • No conversion of single-entry visa. Foreign nationals can no longer convert a single-entry visa into a multi-entry visa while in Iraq. Instead, they must depart Iraq and obtain their new entry visa upon re-entry into Iraq based on an approved visa invitation letter. They will have to complete their post-arrival formalities within 15 business days of arrival.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals who need to extend their assignment in Iraq and obtain a new visa will have to monitor their stay in the country and carefully plan for their timely exit and re-entry to Iraq to obtain their multi-entry visas. This new process will be more expensive and time consuming for foreign nationals.
  • Entry visas issued at airport. Entry visas issued at the airport based on approved visa invitation letters can only be processed for foreign nationals travelling from outside of Iraq. Those who have obtained their visa invitation letter while in Iraq must cancel their (expired) visa and depart from Iraq before being able to re-enter and obtain a new entry visa. It is prohibited to travel within Iraq with expired visas; authorities may check the validity of their visas, even when using domestic flights.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals transiting from one assignment to another within Iraq who thus require a new visa, must now obtain an exit visa, depart from Iraq and re-enter based on the approved invitation letter to receive a new entry visa at the airport. This new process will be more expensive and time consuming for foreign nationals.
  • Monthly report. Beginning March 2018, companies will be required to prepare a monthly report to the Ministry of Interior, listing all the names of foreign nationals under their sponsorship whose assignment in Iraq has ended. Fragomen is expecting further information on this requirement in the coming weeks and will report on this once the information is available.
    • Impact. Employers will be required to carefully monitor foreign nationals under their sponsorship and inform the authorities of employees who have ended their assignment in Iraq

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your Fragomen immigration professional or send an email to mideast@fragomen.com.

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