Visas for the 2026 FIFA World Cup
The 2026 World Cup will be expanded to include 16 additional teams, resulting in more matches, but the tournament will still be completed within five weeks, beginning in mid-June 2026, with the tournament taking place in 11 locations in the USA, three in Mexico, and two in Canada.
Given the large number of flights that will be necessary to transport teams, fans, media, and FIFA representatives across three countries, sustainability will be an essential consideration.
As a direct result of the popularity of football in North America continuing to rise, FIFA will expand the next men’s World Cup finals from 32 to 48 teams, and attendance is expected to break records.
FIFA predicts that as many as 5.5 million supporters will attend the next tournament, surpassing the record of 3.6 million fans who attended games in 1994, when the average attendance per game was 68,000.
The increased format will also increase the number of African and Asian teams competing.
There will be a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 19 teams from the two confederations in 2026, depending on which two nations win the six-team intercontinental playoffs for the finals.
CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football) will qualify at least six teams for the World Cup, including hosts Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and will also have two teams in the playoffs.
All 16 venues for the 2026 tournament have already been constructed and are large-capacity stadiums.
Some stadiums will be upgraded before 2026, and some will require the installation of grass surfaces, as FIFA does not permit artificial turf.
Currently, the format for the 2026 tournament will include 80 matches, but this is subject to change.
The United States will host sixty games, including every game from the quarterfinals onward, while Canada and Mexico will each host ten games.
The United States and Mexico have previously hosted the World Cup, but most venues will be different in 2026. The United States is not using any of its 1994-era stadiums, while Mexico has only one venue from 1970 to 1986: the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
There will be 11 venues in the USA, 2 in Canada and 3 in Mexico. The venues to be attended are as follows:
SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles
New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)
Dallas (AT&T Stadium)
San Francisco Bay Area (Levi's Stadium)
Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
Seattle (Lumen Field)
Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)
Houston (NRG Stadium)
The city of Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium)
Boston/Foxborough (Gillette Stadium)
Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)
Vancouver (BC Place Stadium)
Toronto (BMO Field)
Mexico City (Azteca Stadium)
Monterrey (BBVA Bancomer Stadium)
Guadalajara (Estadio Akron)
There is nothing comparable to the World Cup in football. Even though the UEFA Champions League may produce games of comparable quality, it cannot surpass the prestige earned by its long history and the fact that one team represents an entire nation. No other sporting event can compare to the magnitude of the most recent FIFA World Cup, which was viewed by over three billion television viewers worldwide, one billion of whom watched the championship game.
Since Uruguay hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1930, the competition has taken place every four years (with exceptions for interruption due to the Second World War). However, there were unofficial pre-FIFA World Cups as early as the late 1800s, when there were few national teams. Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, held in 1909 and 1911, was an unofficial “world cup” organized before 1930.
In addition, the Summer Olympic football competitions would indicate which national teams were the best before 1930. The Olympic tournaments, however, consisted solely of amateur teams, whereas the World Cup became the “real deal.”
The next World Cup’s geographical distribution has not yet been announced, but teams will likely compete in regionalized zones during the group stage. There are three main clusters of venues, which should reduce travel requirements for at least a portion of the tournament.
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Los Angeles
- Kansas City
- Mexico City
- New York/New Jersey
Having the necessary infrastructure in place can be crucial to the success of a large-scale event. And in certain nations, the promises of improved infrastructure and the prospect of greater tourism dollars are significant incentives for filing a bid and garnering the most support from the population.
FIFA specifies 12 stadiums with a minimum capacity between 40,000 and 80,000, depending on the matches played there. Additionally, each team needs its base camp training location and a training site at each stadium. Beginning in 2026, the World Cup will require 14 venues and 150 training grounds.
FIFA Requirement: Each stadium must be in close proximity to an airport with a minimum capacity of 1,450 people per hour.
Countries must be able to accommodate the temporary demand rise in airport terminals, passport control and immigration checks, runways, fueling stations, and highways leading to airports in cities across the nation. In certain instances, infrastructure such as terminals are constructed to be ephemeral, as this flow of people is only temporary.
FIFA requires 72 base camp hotels for teams and officials and four hotels per stadium site. Each host city requires 1,760 to 8,080 hotel rooms for spectators, depending on which match will be played there.
Hotels must be able to accommodate the massive flood of domestic and international fans. Brazil brought in six cruise ships with an additional 10,000 rooms to accommodate the demand for hotel rooms. To accomplish this, though, the port had to be renovated, which was a $7 billion endeavour. Qatar constructed a brand-new city with 22 brand-new hotels, transforming an empty desert into a luxury 450,000-person, 38-square-mile metropolis at a cost of $45 billion.
Immigration and Travel Visa guarantees
Referring to immigration and travel guarantees for the 2026 World Cup, a recently released overview document from FIFA states, “In order to meet the needs of the respective groups of individuals, the government is requested to establish a visa-free environment or facilitate existing visa procedures.” Regardless, all visa procedures must be administered without discrimination.”
Trump’s rise to the presidency before his inauguration was fuelled by anti-immigrant prejudice and propaganda. As part of his anti-terrorism efforts, Trump has called for a total ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. As so-called acts of terrorism grew globally, his viewpoint looked to be vindicated.
However, the courts have now halted his executive order aiming to prohibit admission into the US for citizens from numerous Muslim-majority nations.
Despite FIFA’s demands for visa exemptions, the organization’s overview document states: “It is agreed that such ease of entry to the host country/host countries must in no way compromise national immigration and security norms in the host country/host countries.”
In addition, the agreement states: “A bidding country’s government is required to guarantee the issuance of legitimate work permits to all individuals involved in the planning, organization, and hosting of the tournament, without any restrictions or preconditions.”
Equally, “the host nation’s government must grant a general tax exemption to FIFA, the 2026 FWC (FIFA World Cup) Entity, the 2026 FWC Subsidiaries (if applicable), and any other FIFA subsidiary for the period of preparation, delivery, and wrap-up of the Competition, beginning on the date of appointment of the host country/host countries and ending on December 31, 2028,” according to the document.
Following the 2015 corruption scandal that engulfed soccer’s governing body, FIFA has implemented new bidding criteria. As part of the revisions, the most recent rules include commitments to ethics, human rights, transparency, and stadium size and infrastructure requirements.
Visas, permits, immigration, check-in procedures for the 2026 World Cup
It is anticipated that a considerable number of foreign nationals will enter and exit the Host Country/Host Countries because the FIFA World Cup is a global athletic event in which teams from all 211 FIFA member associations may compete and which poses enormous organizational issues. This includes:
- Individuals involved in the preparation and organization of the Competition throughout the entirety of the preparation phase;
- Persons engaged in the preparation of the stay of participating teams in the Competition in the year leading up to the Competition; and
- Individuals entering and traveling throughout the Host Country/Countries during the Competition.
To meet the demands of the various groups of individuals, the Government is urged to develop a visa-free environment or to streamline the visa application process. All visa procedures must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
The Competition’s success will largely depend on the ease with which foreign nationals may visit the Host Country/Host Countries in connection with the Competition (also at short notice). It is acknowledged, however, that such ease of access to the Host Country/Countries must in no way compromise national immigration and security norms in the Host Country/Countries.
In addition, to support the preparation, organization, hosting, and staging of the Competition, the Government must ensure that certain individuals have access to expedited immigration procedures, such as express lanes and other specialized services. In particular, the persons participating in the planning and organisation of the Competition must be empowered to carry out their jobs in an efficient manner.
In 2023, the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey could host the final, but that decision has yet to be made.
The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, which has a capacity of 82,500, is the frontrunner to host the final.
The Azteca in Mexico has been proposed as a potential opening match venue.
Both locations are candidates to host the 2026 final.