Visa delays may bar French travellers from US

13th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 13 (AFP) - Holders of newly issued French passports risk having to cancel planned trips to the United States because consular authorities are unable to cope with a rush of end-of-year visa demands, the American embassy in Paris warned Tuesday.

PARIS, Dec 13 (AFP) - Holders of newly issued French passports risk having to cancel planned trips to the United States because consular authorities are unable to cope with a rush of end-of-year visa demands, the American embassy in Paris warned Tuesday.

The logjam is caused by delays in the delivery of biometric passports -- containing digital information about the bearer -- which were supposed to have been made available for French citizens two months ago.

Under US regulations visa-free travel is only possible for holders of French passports issued after October 26 this year if the passports are biometric. Holders of passports issued before that date are unaffected by the rule.

"With the approach of the holiday travel season, the US embassy is experiencing huge and unexpected demand for visas. The embassy is extending its hours and expanding its staff to double the number of visas it normally issues each business day," an embassy statement read.

"Even so, the embassy may not be able to keep up with demand. Many people who intended to travel to the United States in the coming weeks may not be able to obtain a visa appointment."

The delay in issuing biometric passports has been caused by a union dispute at France's state-owned National Print.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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