Health and Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos (July 17, 2020)
Event: Survey of U.S. Citizen Interest in Chartered Flights; Information on Absentee Voting for U.S. Citizens; Phased Resumption of Visa Services; Extending Visas in Laos
Survey of U.S. Citizen Interest in Chartered Flights
A private travel agency, TicketLao, is exploring options to arrange flights from Vientiane to Seoul in the coming weeks. Interested U.S. citizens should contact TicketLao at firstname.lastname@example.org or via WhatsApp at +856 (0)20 52 558 787 and specify the number of tickets they wish to purchase and their final destination.
Please note that this flight is arranged by a private business; the Embassy makes no guarantee of quality of service or availability of tickets for U.S. citizens. The Embassy cannot answer questions about the flight or seat availability; please direct such questions to the contact details above. The Embassy also will not make travel arrangements on your behalf.
Information on Absentee Voting for U.S. Citizens
All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot must complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) if they wish to vote from abroad. It’s easy – just visit http://www.fvap.gov, the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). FVAP is the official U.S. government website for overseas absentee voting information.
Voting registration documents and ballots can be mailed to the United States through the Embassy. Address envelopes clearly, affix the correct U.S. postage, and drop off envelopes at the Embassy’s Consular Entrance during normal operating hours. In some cases, postage-paid envelopes can be printed by visiting the FVAP website, http://www.fvap.gov. Envelopes will be mailed one business day after receipt by the Embassy. Please expect COVID19-related delays; allow several weeks for delivery to the United States. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer expedited mailing service.
Please make sure to check the exact deadlines for your state or territory of residence on http://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter, and mail your FPCA early enough to meet the deadlines. The FVAP recommends that all U.S. citizens mail their FPCAs by August 1 to ensure that states can send ballots before the 2020 General Election.
If you submit your FPCA but do not receive a ballot on time, you can still vote; just complete a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). You can find more information here.
Phased Resumption of Visa Services
On July 21, the Embassy will resume certain nonimmigrant visa services, including visa types F, M, and J. Before scheduling a visa appointment, all Lao nationals should read further information regarding discontinuation of visa issuance to Lao nationals here. While the Embassy aims to process cases as soon as practicable, there may be increased wait times due to substantial backlogs. The MRV fee is valid and may be used to schedule an interview appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided here to request an emergency appointment. Please read more information about multiple Presidential Proclamations here; you are encouraged to consider your eligibility for a visa before you make any payments as applicants do not receive refunds for refused visas.
Applicants for H1B, H2B, H4, L and certain J categories covered by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should request an appointment only if you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the Proclamation here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/.
Extending Visas in Laos
According to the Lao Department of Immigration, U.S. citizens seeking to extend visas that have expired due to unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19 can do so at the Department of Immigration Office in Vientiane. U.S. citizens outside Vientiane can request extension at provincial Public Security Offices. Extension can be requested in one-month increments, at a rate of 20,000 kip (around USD $2.50) per day of extension. Thus, one month of extension should cost around USD $75, plus a nominal administrative fee. Though not required, some immigration officers may request a letter from the Embassy in support of visa extension requests. The Embassy can provide such a letter if necessary; please direct requests to email@example.com.
Actions to Take:
Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Laos.
Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
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