Obtaining a Visa for Iraq

 

For A Non-Registered Company to Enter Iraq on a Business Visa

For those wanting to explore investment opportunities in Iraq, it is possible to obtain a visa without a pre-existing government contract. Business visas are issued to potential investors after the National Investment Commission (NIC) sends a letter of sponsorship to the Ministry of Interior.

  1. Investors should write a letter of introduction addressed to Dr. Sami Al-Araji, Chairman of the NIC. This letter should briefly introduce the investor, his/her company, and the investor’s specific business interest in Iraq. Include a copy of picture/signature page of the investor’s passport and the proposed itinerary for his/her trip to Iraq. Email this letter to p.r.nic@investpromo.gov.iq.
    1. If the company has already been in contact with an Iraqi company or with a Provincial Investment Commission, they can write an additional letter of introduction to the NIC in support of the investor. This can be helpful for smaller businesses without a history of foreign investment.
    2. The NIC will determine the merit of the company’s interest in Iraq. If approved, the NIC will sponsor the investor for a visa and notify both the applicant and the Ministry of Interior.
    3. Once the visa has been approved, the Ministry of Interior will notify the NIC and the port of entry (indicated in the application) of the approval. The NIC emails the investor the visa approval letter.
    4. Applicants should print a copy of the visa approval letter and present it at the port of entry to receive their visa sticker. Visitors to Iraq should be sure they have at least two blank pages in their passport.
      1. It is recommended that the investor contact the NIC prior to leaving to confirm that the visa approval letter has reached the port of entry.

When travelers arrive at the port of entry, they should proceed to the visa counter and present a copy of the visa approval form with their passport in order for the visa sticker to be placed in their passports. When they receive their passports back, they should pay $82 USD cash for the visa. Travelers should have exact change available, and they should receive a receipt. If they do not receive a receipt, they should request one.

Investors staying for more than 10 days must obtain an arrival note at the residency office. These investors should contact the NIC for guidance on how to complete this process once they arrive. This process includes a blood test, as described in the arrival note section below.

Companies with Direct U.S. Government Contracts

I) Authority to Sponsor Visas

Before an American company can sponsor its employees for a visa, the company must inform the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) who its Iraq country director will be. This is not a part of the routine visa process, but a company must do this in order to have the authority to request visas for its employees. To do this:

  1. The CEO or President of the company must write a letter which indicates who will be representing the company in Iraq (hereafter referred to as the Iraq Manager).
  2. This letter must be notarized by a number of entities in the following order:
    1. U.S. Secretary of State, Washington, DC
    2. Embassy of Iraq, Washington, DC
    3. Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Baghdad, Iraq
    4. Once these authorities have notarized the document, the letter must be given to the Residency Office in the MOI in Baghdad.
      1. The MOI keeps this document on file to verify the authenticity of the company’s visa requests.

II) Designation of Trusted Agent

The corporate Iraq Manager should designate a trusted agent in writing to appear in her/his place at the MOI to handle visa applications.  This trusted agent must:

  • Be an Iraqi national
  • Be an employee of the company or be contracted to handle the company’s visa requests
  • Possess a national identity card, birth certificate, ration card, and residence card

III) Application for Single Entry Visas and Arrival Notes

A single entry visa entitles the holder to remain in the country for a three-month continuous stay. To apply for a single entry visa, the trusted agent must take the following to the MOI for each batch of visa requests:

  1. Trusted agent authorization and identification documents
  2. Copy of a letter from the corporate Iraq Manager stating the work the company does for the U.S. Government, and a pledge that the corporation is only submitting visa requests for company personnel and that all submissions are accurate and truthful.
    1. This letter must state the port of entry where the employee will be arriving.
    2. This letter must be submitted in English and in Arabic.
    3. USG contract coversheet (with sensitive information redacted) in English and Arabic
    4. Letter from the U.S. government’s contracting officer representative (COR) stating that the company is authorized to request visas in order to fulfill its contractual obligations
    5. Copy of each applicant’s passport picture/signature page
    6. Copy of each applicant’s Common Access Card (CAC) (if available)
    7. Spreadsheet with the consolidated details of all applicants in the batch request

After one to three days, the MOI will give the trusted agent a document verifying that the visas for each applicant have been approved. The company must scan and email this document to each of the visa applicants so that they have a copy of it when they arrive at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP).

Allow 72 hours between the time approval is given and the employee’s arrival so that a physical copy of this document can be sent to the port of entry from the MOI.

When the employees arrive at the port of entry, they should proceed to the visa counter and present a copy of the visa approval form with their passport in order for the visa sticker to be placed in their passports. When they receive their passports back, they should pay $82 USD cash for the visa. Employees should have exact change available, and they should receive a receipt. If they do not receive a receipt, they should request one.

Arrival Note: If the employee is staying for ten days or less, no other action is required and the employee does not need an exit visa.  However, for those staying longer than ten days, the employee must obtain an arrival note within ten days of arrival.

Current Iraqi law requires foreign nationals residing in Iraq for more than ten days to submit a blood sample at a Ministry of Health clinic. Although, U.S. Government contractors are exempt from this requirement.  At the health clinic, a blood sample will be taken and Ministry of Health officials will provide the employee with a stamped card indicating that the employee has fulfilled this visa requirement.*  Note – there have been significant variations in the application of this rule between Baghdad and Basrah and some U.S. Government contractors have been required to obtain an Arrival Note prior to being allowed to exit the country.

To receive an arrival note, the trusted agent must take the following to the MOI:

  1. Employee’s passport with the current Iraqi entry visa
  2. Trusted agent authorization
  3. Letter from corporate Iraq Manager stating the work the company does for the U.S. Government
  4. Copy of applicant’s passport picture/signature page
  5. Copy of applicant’s entry visa sticker
  6. Copy of passport page where Ministry of Health official confirmed that a blood sample was taken
  7. Stamped verification card from the Ministry of Health clinic verifying that a blood sample was taken

*The blood test is valid for three months. If employees leave Iraq and return within three months of their previous blood test, they do not have to be retested. Instead, to receive the arrival note, they must go to the health clinic where the test was performed and receive another stamped card confirming that they had a blood test on that previous date.

IV) Exit Visa

If an employee only has a single entry visa, he/she must obtain exit visa in order to be permitted to leave Iraq. 

To apply for an exit visa, the trusted agent must take the following to the MOI for each batch of visa requests:

  1. Trusted agent authorization and trusted agent identification document
  2. Copy of each applicant’s passport picture/signature page
  3. Copy of each applicant’s current or expired Iraqi visa
  4. Copy of each applicant’s Common Access Card (CAC) or United States Forces – Iraq (USF-I) Badge (if available)
  5. Spreadsheet with the consolidated details of all applicants in the batch request

Exit visas are provided free of charge. However, if the applicant’s visa is expired, a $60 USD fine will be assessed. If the applicant does not have a visa, a $90 USD fine will be assessed. These fines are paid at the MOI, not the airport.

The MOI will give the trusted agent a document verifying that the exit visas for each applicant have been approved. The company must be sure that each employee has a copy of this document when he/she departs Iraq.

At the airport, employees must proceed to the customs office to have their exit visa verified, where their passports are stamped.

V) Multiple Entry/Exit Visa

A multiple entry visa entitles the holder to enter and exit Iraq at will as long as the visa remains valid. It permits the holder to remain in the country for the validity period of the visa. An exit visa is not required as long as the multiple entry visa is valid. These visas can be issued for six-month or one-year periods.

An applicant must be present in Iraq in order to apply for a multiple entry visa. To apply for a multiple entry visa, the trusted agent must take the following to the MOI for each batch of visa requests:

  1. Trusted agent authorization and trusted agent identification document
  2. Copy of a letter by the corporate Iraq Manager stating the work the company does for the U.S. Government; and a pledge that the corporation is only submitting visa requests for company personnel and that all submissions are accurate and truthful
  3. USG contract coversheet, showing the completion date of the contract
    1. The contract completion date must be six months beyond the request date
    2. Letter from the contracting officer representative (COR) stating that the company is authorized to request visas in order to fulfill its contractual obligations
    3. Copy of each applicant’s passport picture/signature page
    4. Copy of each applicant’s current or expired Iraqi visa.  If the entry visa has expired or if the employee has not been issued a visa, a fine will be assessed
    5. Copy of each applicant’s Common Access Card (CAC) (if available)
    6. Spreadsheet with the consolidated details of all applicants in the batch request

Within a week, the MOI will give the trusted agent a document verifying that the visas for each applicant have been approved. The firm must scan and email this document to each of the visa applicants so that they have a copy of it when they arrive at the port of entry.

When the employees arrive at the port of entry, they should proceed to the visa counter and present a copy of the visa approval form with their passport.  They pay $200 cash and receive their passports back with a temporary visa. Employees should have exact change available, and they must be issued a receipt. The trusted agent then takes the passports, visa approval forms, and payment receipts to the MOI for the permanent visa to be placed in each applicant’s passport.

Holders of current and valid multiple entry visas do not need an exit visa to leave Iraq.

Note: All Iraq-born expatriates working in Iraq as U.S. contractors must have a valid Iraqi visa.

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