Visa and Entry Concerns for 2026 World Cup

passport on top of a planner
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

In a wildly popular article posted by The Athletic on April 26, 2024, fans have been reminded to start the visa process to enter USA, Mexico or Canada as early as popular. The article itself is 100% worth the read but is slightly misleading due to its headline as it also expresses confidence from key stakeholders that a solution will be found.

Below you’ll find some key takeaways from the article. You may also want to read our section about Fan IDs in general to get an idea on how previous tournaments handled this dilemma.


We offer a summary below but if you want the tl;dr edition:

  • There’s concerns about lengthy visa processing times to enter USA.
  • Having visa agreements between 3 very different governments is a challenge.
  • If you know you plan to visit in 2026, it may be wise to start the visa process now.
  • There’s plenty of optimism and historical context on their being an expedited process here for visiting fans.

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Understanding Visa Concerns for the 2026 World Cup

As excitement builds for the 2026 World Cup, significant concerns are emerging about potential visa delays for fans planning to attend. These concerns, centered primarily on the lengthy wait times currently required for securing U.S. visas, have prompted discussions at high levels, including the White House, emphasizing the need for streamlined processes to accommodate the expected influx of international visitors.

Current Visa Wait Times Pose Challenge

Reports highlight extraordinarily long wait times for visa interviews in key countries like Mexico and Colombia, with some waits extending beyond 800 days. This situation is particularly problematic as the tournament approaches and could deter fans if not addressed promptly. The urgency of these issues was underscored in recent meetings involving U.S. travel and government officials, where strategies to reduce wait times were discussed.

FIFA’s Role and Challenges Ahead

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to host 48 teams and will lack a central organizing committee, placing additional coordination burdens directly on FIFA. This arrangement necessitates close cooperation with multiple stakeholders across the three host countries, each with distinct entry requirements and levels of support for the event. This complex setup could complicate the visa process for fans traveling to multiple venues across USA, Mexico and Canada borders.

Government and Industry Responses

In response to these challenges, both FIFA and U.S. travel industry representatives have engaged with the U.S. Department of State to seek solutions that facilitate easier travel. The U.S. government acknowledges the importance of the event and has indicated a commitment to improving the visa application process in time for the games. This includes potentially increasing consular staff and leveraging technology to reduce processing times.


As the 2026 World Cup approaches, all eyes will be on the U.S. to manage these challenges effectively.
The outcome will likely not only influence the success of the upcoming World Cup but also establish precedents for managing large-scale international events on U.S. soil in the future, including the 2025 Club World Cup, the 2028 Olympics, and (possibly – with an announcement expected in May 2024) the 2027 World Cup.

It’s not the first World Cup with visa processing concerns. Qatar, Russia and Brazil each enlisted various forms of a “Fan ID” for ticket-holding fans. We found personal email exchanges from 2014 with the Brazilian Consulates that illustrates some of the chaos as local consulates didn’t even have the information to process the World Cup visa requests until only 3 months before the Opening Match kickoff!

While this situation will certainly create nervy moments for fans, we remain optimistic that we will figure out solutions in time, based on the quotes from The Athletic article and experience from past tournaments.

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