Some consulates have very long waits for a visa interview

World Cup signage

FIFA World Cup promotion is displayed at MetLife Stadium after an announcement by FIFA on February 5, 2024 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The 2026 World Cup is still two years away, but some international supporters might be out of luck in getting visas to attend matches in North America. So far, only the host nations — the U.S., Mexico and Canada — have qualified for the tournament. And yet some supporters find themselves in an unsettling position: having to decide if they want to begin the process of planning their travel before they even know if their preferred team will be playing.

That’s one of the big takeaways from Adam Crafton’s recent reporting at The Athletic. The issue here isn’t that the U.S., Canada and Mexico are prohibiting some travelers from attending events. Instead, it’s that the wait for a visa interview in certain countries could make it impossible to plan travel to North America for the World Cup.

Crafton cites the interview times at the U.S.’s consulates in Mexico City and Guadalajara. In both cases, booking an interview now would result in an interview after the 2026 World Cup has begun. Scheduling a visa interview at the U.S. consulate in Bogota, Colombia is, as of this writing, something you’d need to do over 22 months in advance.

According to The Athletic, no one seems terribly happy about this. Soccer fans looking to travel for the World Cup are frustrated by the ambiguity of the situation. Metropolitan areas hosting matches — which are counting on an influx of tourist money around the tournament — are also reportedly frustrated by the delays.

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, offered advice to would-be travelers to make their applications now. “We encourage prospective FIFA World Cup visitors who will need U.S. visas to apply now — there is no requirement to have purchased event tickets, made hotel reservations, or reserved airline tickets to qualify for a visitor visa,” the agency told The Athletic in a statement.

You may recall that the last men’s World Cup — Qatar 2022 — ran into issues because of the country’s shortage of hotel rooms relative to the massive crowds that showed up that winter. For 2026, that shouldn’t be an issue — but a tournament that looked like a more accessible alternative to the Qatar- and Russia-hosted editions is turning out to have its own challenges.

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