I am a South African citizen who is currently resident in Berlin, Germany. I have a valid work/residence permit. I am planning on traveling to US in September and I applied for a non-immigrant visa and was interviewed and approved on the 9th of June.

However, there are global delays in US visa applications due to computer issues that are just being resolved this week. The Berlin embassy has suspended printing visas approved on or after the 9th of June. I have travel plans to visit Spain in the first week of July. According to the terms of my carrier, I need my passport to board this flight.

This places me in an awkward position. The US consulate told me they would return my passport in less than a week when I applied. I have pre-paid for accommodation in Spain and for flights etc, but now I am worried that I will not be able to go.

What can I do?

  • 4
    Ask the US Embassy to return your passport until they're ready to print your visa? Call the airline and explain the issue? Your residence permit (blue card?) might suffice as a substitute -- check that Spain allows you to visit with that and no passport, too.
    – Max
    Jun 23, 2015 at 7:55
  • 1
    Ok I got hold of the embassy and they'll send my passport. I guess I thought they had to hold it for the whole time.
    – JP Janet
    Jun 23, 2015 at 13:08
  • I'm not sure if they would normally do this: they might be more than usually willing to accommodate applicants because of the unusual delay.
    – Max
    Jun 23, 2015 at 13:36
  • Travel from Germany to Spain is all within the Schengen zone, so a permanent residents card should be valid unless the airline is being extra strict. Could you perhaps re-book onto a less-picky airline and/or take the train?
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:42
  • @Gagravarr In practice, you might get away with a lot of things but technically I don't think it's valid without a passport.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Usually embassies might not care that much about that but given the technical nature of the problem and the long delays involved, some US embassies explicitly advise travellers that they can get their passport back. The notice on the website of the embassy in Berlin is much shorter but I am sure they would do it too.

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