During the holiday season, many government offices worldwide will close or have reduced staff and hours of operation, which is likely to result in delays in the processing of work permits, residence permits and visas over the coming weeks and into the New Year.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of immigration office and consular post closings for the holiday season. Employers and foreign nationals with travel or relocation plans between now and early 2013 should contact their immigration service provider to discuss the impact of holiday closures on their specific circumstances.
Canada: Government offices in Canada and consular posts abroad will be closed December 25-26 and January 1.
Government offices in most Sub-Saharan African countries work at half capacity or close entirely from December 15 through January 15, resulting in application processing delays well into the New Year.
Asia / Pacific
Australia: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will be closed December 25-27 and January 1.
Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Immigration Department will be closed December 25-26 and January 1. Application processing is expected to be delayed by a few days.
India: Government offices will be closed December 25 and January 1. Consular posts may close for longer periods depending on the national practice for their location.
Japan: Japanese immigration offices will be closed from December 31 through January 3.
Malaysia: Government offices will be closed on December 25 and January 1, 24 and 28.
New Zealand: Immigration New Zealand offices will be closed from December 24 through January 2. The closures, along with heavy demand for work visas with January start dates, are expected to delay application processing between now and mid-January.
Singapore: Government offices will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Application processing delays are expected through the start of 2013 as many government workers take vacations for the entire week between December 25 and January 1.
Thailand: Government offices will be closed on December 31 and January 1.
Europe / Middle East
Immigration offices in most countries in the region will officially close December 24 - 26 and January 1. However, many government offices in the region work at limited capacity during the last week of December into the first week of January. Countries with expected closures of longer duration are listed below.
Austria: Government offices will be closed December 25-26 and January 1. The closures are expected to temporarily delay application processing by one week.
Azerbaijan: Government offices will be closed December 29 through January 3.
Denmark: Government offices will be closed from December 24 to January 1, resulting in one-week processing delays.
Finland: Government offices in Finland and all consular posts abroad will close December 24-26 and January 1.
Hungary: Government offices will be closed December 24 through January 2.
Ireland: There have been no official announcements of closures, but government offices are expected to operate at limited capacity from December 21 through January 2.
Italy: Government offices will be closed December 24-25 and January 1, but are not expected to operate at full capacity until January 7.
Kazakhstan: Government offices are expected to be closed December 16-18 and January 1-4, though there has been no official announcement to date.
Norway: Government offices will be closed December 22 through January 3.
Russia: Government offices will be closed December 29 through January 9.
Sweden: The Swedish Migration Board will operate at reduced capacity, and may close entirely, from December 22 through January 7.
Ukraine: Government offices are expected to be closed December 28 through January 8.
Most countries’ immigration offices will be officially closed on December 24, 25 and 31, and January 1 and 7. Unofficially, many Latin American government offices slow down or work at half capacity during the month of December and into the second week of January. Processing delays for applications submitted at the end of November and in December should therefore be expected. The two countries with closures of longer duration are:
Costa Rica: There have been no official announcements of office closures, but the Immigration Office is expected to follow the practice of previous years and close from December 14 through January 8.
Mexico: The National Immigration Institute is tentatively scheduled to be closed from December 14 through January 7.