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International Crisis Management (‘Coronavirus’)

In this alert we provide guidance for travel and border (Entry and Exit) restrictions. Correct as of 14th April 2020. You can also contact our team if you have any other immigration queries, we offer advice and support for the country you are in; if your visa is running out; you’re abroad; you want to return home; and you cannot return.

Contact us: Laura Butcher; Global Immigration Manager
Laura is an authority on all aspects of immigration law, able to draw on the 14’ years’ experience she has gained managing immigration teams across multiple bluechip law firms. She has represented some of the world’s largest companies across all sectors. She has lived and breathed the immigration changes over the years and this knowledge enables her to offer tailored services and solutions for the business or the individual, including the provision of high-level strategic advice on issues such as Risk and Crisis Management (e.g. ‘Coronavirus’ and ‘Brexit’.)

Summary: Denmark

From 14 March until at least 13 April, the Danish border will be closed to foreign nationals who do not have a ‘worthy purpose’ for entering Denmark. Border checks will be implemented at all entry points. Tourists and those the Danish authorities say cannot demonstrate a ‘worthy purpose’ will not be allowed to cross the border.

Foreign nationals normally living (temporary or permanent residents) and working in Denmark are still able to enter the country, as are those who need to transit through Denmark to return to their place of residence, and those who are providing a service or delivering goods to Denmark. Proof will be required to demonstrate a ‘worthy purpose’ to enter. However, there are limited commercial means to return to the UK by air. The Danish government announced on 17 March that everyone entering Denmark should stay at home for 14 days.

We have prepared specific Q&A, frequently asked questions and answers from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danish National Police etc. regarding travelling in or out of Denmark. Please contact us if any of the following apply:

  • For Danes and Danish, if you are stranded abroad
  • Tourists already in Denmark
  • Travels to Denmark
  • Travels through Denmark
  • Travels from Denmark
  • Visa, work or residence permits

Summary: Germany

There are now only limited commercial means of leaving Germany to return to the UK by air, from just a few major airports in Germany. This is subject to change, and availability may reduce further.

Germany has intensified border controls at airports and land borders. Unless travellers are a resident in Germany, can demonstrate a compelling reason for their travel to Germany, or are border workers
commuting between Germany and neighbouring countries, they will be refused entry. If you intend to fly to Germany, check with your airline before you travel and ensure you bring any supporting documentation you need to justify your travel. If you are transiting through an airport in Germany in order to travel to the UK, you will need to have onward travel, and, if necessary, temporary accommodation booked before you will be permitted to enter Germany.

Resident British nationals are permitted to return as long as their habitual place of residence is Germany and they are able to provide proof of this. Proof of residence might include:

  • Certificate of registration of address (also available online)
  • Payslip (with German address)
  • Free movement certificate (not issued any longer)
  • Other official documents evidencing residence in Germany

You should bear in mind that the situation is changing quickly and that border police in some regions may take a more strict approach.

Germany imposed temporary border checks on its land borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark on Monday 16 March.

Those without a good reason for travelling will not be permitted entry. Frontier workers and goods traffic are not currently affected. German nationals and residents will be allowed to return to Germany. Germany is advising its own citizens against all unnecessary travel abroad.

The German Health Minister has advised that all people in Germany who have been in a risk area in the last 14 days should self-isolate for two weeks, as well as those who have been close contact with a person who has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Summary: China

From 28 March, China is suspending the entry into China of foreign nationals with visas issued before 27 March. The Chinese authorities have told the British Embassy in Beijing that this includes transit passengers. The only exemptions will be diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas.

All international passenger flights to Beijing will be diverted to 12 designated airports in Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Hohhot, Shanghai Pudong, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou and Xi’an.

Regulations for arrivals from overseas is continuously changing. Passengers are subject to health checks (likely to involve nucleic acid or swab tests) upon arrival, including during transit. It can take hours or days for test results. Those failing health checks may be sent to a designated hospital for treatment.

Those seated close to those who fail health checks may be required to undergo 14 days centralised quarantine where they first landed. All passengers who are able to transfer on to Beijing are subject to 14 days
centralised quarantine.

Families, including those with children, have been separated upon entering quarantine. Those undergoing observation will be asked to cover the fees for their period of quarantine.

International airports including Shanghai and Guangzhou have introduced similar mandatory health checks and 14 day quarantine for all international arrivals, regardless of destination.

There have been reports of foreign nationals being denied access to hotels and other businesses. Before you travel, check with your airline, travel operator or hotel for any changes or restrictions.

China issued an order to ensure compliance with health and quarantine regulations at borders. Refusal to comply with procedures or testing put in place or any attempts to deliberately conceal health conditions can result in being sentenced to up to three years in prison. This applies to both Chinese and foreign nationals.

Mandatory requirements to check temperatures and scan QR codes to prove travel history are in place at transport hubs, hotels, commercial buildings including restaurants, residential compounds and other

Restrictions on movement and quarantine arrangements remain for travel between different parts of the country. Most cities and provinces require travellers to undergo 14 days of isolation in their place of residence or in centralised observation. Quarantine is enforced at the neighbourhood level, and procedures vary.

The possibility that local authorities impose mandatory quarantine in response to fresh outbreaks is high.

Transport hubs in Wuhan, Hubei province remain closed. Authorities announced a partial lifting of travel restrictions in Wuhan on 8 April. Due to the severity of travel restrictions and difficulty accessing medical
assistance, the FCO assisted the departure of British nationals and dependents via charter flights on 31 January and 9 February.

Summary: Norway

All borders are partially closed. This means that non-residents will not be allowed to enter the country after this point. This will include those travelling in from Sweden and Finland. Non-residents are still able to transit via Norwegian airports as long as the final destination is not within Norway. Airports remain open but travel is being discouraged and there are limited commercial means of leaving Norway to return to the UK by air.

All British nationals legally resident in Norway will be allowed to enter the country but are also required to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. Exemptions for workers crossing the Swedish and Finnish borders will apply. Those with symptoms will be isolated. Rules on how long you need to remain in quarantine have been clarified to allow those not showing symptoms to leave the country without needing to complete the full 14 days. We recommend that you travel with evidence of residency status.

Summary: France

On 8 April, French authorities introduced a requirement to complete a certificate for International travel from abroad to mainland France in order to enter France. This certificate should be completed before entering France, in order to be shown to French border authorities on entry and, where appropriate, transportation companies prior to boarding. If you do not complete the certificate, you may be unable to complete your journey. You can produce a handwritten copy of the text in the attestation if you are unable to access a printer.

In order to travel within or to transit through France, you should either complete an “Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire” to certify your reason for travel or an “Attestation déplacement professionnel”, if travelling for essential professional reasons. This “attestation”(declaration) should be completed before starting your journey, and, if entering France, does not replace the requirement for an “International travel from abroad to mainland France” certificate. You can produce a handwritten copy of the text in the attestation if you are unable to access a printer.

On 5 March 2020, Flybe announced that it had ceased operations and all its flights have been cancelled.

The UK has left the European Union. However, the rules on travel to EU countries will stay the same until 31 December 2020 as part of the “transitional arrangements” and while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.

Summary: USA

The new US travel restrictions are affecting commercial flight schedules to the UK. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling in the USA, you are strongly advised to return to the UK now, while there are comercial routes available.

As of 16 March, it is still not be possible for many British nationals to enter the USA if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran or China within the previous 14 days.

US citizens and permanent resident of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visas holders (such as UN staff and diplomats) are exempt and will still be able to enter
subject to normal entry requirements. Those allowed entry to the USA may be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 day s after arrival.

British nationals will also be unable to transit the USA on an ESTA visa waiver if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran or China within the previous 14 days.

British travellers currently in the USA will be allowed to leave. The new US travel restrictions are likely to affect commercial flight schedules to the UK and we recommend that British travellers who wish to leave by air make appropriate arrangements to ensure their travel plans can be met.

If you entered the USA on an ESTA and are concerned that your period of admission is about to expire and you cannot depart the USA due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, you can apply for Satisfactory Departure
from the US Customs and Border Protection. This discretionary authority permits US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Customs and Border Protection to extend an ESTA admission for a period not to exceed 30 days in order to allow you to depart the United States without penalty. The new restrictions also limit the number of airports to which flights from the UK (and Ireland) can operate.

The 13 airports are:

  • JFK (New York)
  • IAD (Washington DC)
  • ORD (Chicago)
  • MIA (Miami)
  • DFW (Dallas)
  • SEA (Seattle)
  • EWR (Newark)
  • BOS (Boston)
  • DTW (Detroit)
  • ATM (Atlanta)
  • LAX (Los Angeles)
  • HML (Honolulu)
  • While there are NO direct flights from SFO (San Francisco) to the UK at this time, there are flights with connections to the UK

Long queues have been reported at US airports as a result of the new screening procedures put in place by the US Government. Travellers should comply with these measures and account for the extra time it may take to clear screening when arriving for a flight or on disembarkation.

Those who are permitted entry to the USA from the UK (or Ireland) will be advised to self-isolate, possibly for up to 14 days.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, American Samoa currently requires all non-US passport holders to spend at least 14 days in Hawaii, Samoa (Apia) or Tonga before entering. Other restrictions for those travelling from countries affected by the outbreak could also be in force.

Summary: Singapore

No short-term visitors from anywhere in the world are able to enter Singapore. If you need to visit Singapore in extenuating circumstances, you should make a request to the Singapore government by submitting a Form 14 to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and wait for a response before attempting to travel.

All long-term pass holders (those who hold long-term visit passes or student passes, or in-principle approval for a long-term pass) need approval before entering or returning to Singapore. Permission requests must be made to Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, by email.

All work pass holders must comply with all Singapore government regulations or face their passes being revoked and/or fines/jail.

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower will only allow work pass holders and/or their dependents to enter Singapore if they have obtained prior approval of the Ministry.

Employers of work pass holders are required to obtain approval from the Ministry before pass holders travel to Singapore. Any work pass holders or dependents who are granted permission to enter Singapore will be issued with a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SHN).

Work pass holders will be refused entry or risk deportation if they do not comply with this requirement. They also risk having their work pass revoked.

Arrivals from anywhere in the world entering Singapore will be required to serve a 14 day period isolated in a hotel room or similar accommodation provided by the Singapore government. Whilst you are serving this period of 14 days isolation you will not be allowed to leave your room. The 14 day period cannot be reduced, even if you wish to leave Singapore. Failure to comply carries a fine and a jail term of up to six months.

Permanent Residents and approved work pass holders with permission to enter Singapore must submit an online health declaration in advance of their arrival into Singapore. Otherwise it will need to be completed upon entry and may result in delays to immigration clearance.

Transit through Singapore is not permitted. If your planned journey requires you to transit through Singapore, you should contact your airline immediately.

The number of flights operating worldwide are reducing and continuing to change at short notice. You should check with your airline regularly ahead of your scheduled flight.

The UK government is continuing to work to find alternative routes for British nationals to return home.

Summary: Pakistan

We understand that the Pakistani authorities have closed land borders with Afghanistan, China, India and Iran. Border crossings with Iran have opened occasionally to allow Pakistani nationals to return home. Border crossings with Afghanistan open a number of times a week, but for outward goods transport only. Those crossing into Pakistan may have to comply with COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures.

International air passengers travelling to Pakistan will be subject to thermal screening on arrival. Passengers displaying a high-temperature or other COVID-19 symptoms may be transported directly to quarantine in hospital. All other passengers will be transported to a designated holding centre to be quarantined, and tested for COVID-19 after 24 hours. Passengers will only be released after results are returned. We understand that this entire process may take up to two days. Before travelling, you should ensure that you have a form of payment for food and water during this quarantine and testing period.

Incoming passengers who test positive for COVID-19 may be subject to compulsory isolation or quarantine. People who have come into contact with others with COVID-19 symptoms may also be isolated or quarantined. Those that test negative will still have to self-isolate at home, and should follow local authority guidelines.

Passengers on flights to Pakistan may also be required to follow special measures before boarding, and while on board the aircraft, including the wearing of a surgical mask.

Reinforcement of screening and administrative measures at all sea ports has been announced.

Domestic flight operations are suspended until 21 April. Despite this, the Government of Pakistan has permitted some flights between Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan to continue. Cargo and special flights are also exempted from these restrictions.

Summary: Russia

On 30 March, temporary restrictions on entry and exit via Russia’s land borders, including with Belarus, were enforced as part of wider coronavirus-related measures. Duration of these remains unspecified. The restrictions do not apply to certain groups including members of diplomatic missions.

On 18 March the Russian government introduced restrictions on entry into the whole country for almost all foreign citizens until 1 May 2020. These restrictions do not apply to certain groups including those with permanent residency in Russia and members of diplomatic missions.

On 19 March, the Russian government announced that all arrivals to the country should self-isolate at home for a period of 14 days, regardless of whether they show symptoms. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.

The Russian Prime Minister also announced that anyone arriving into the airports will be tested for COVID-19 at the airport on arrival.

Visa extensions of up to 90 days will be granted for those nationals who are in Russia at present but cannot travel back to the UK, regardless of the purpose of entry. However, while the self-quarantine measures imposed by the Moscow City Government from 30 March are in place, the Moscow Migration Service will not be providing services to foreign nationals. If you need to extend your visa, once these self-quarantine measures are lifted you should go to the nearest migration office of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, or contact your visa facilitation company, if you have one. This applies for both those with valid visas and those with visas which have, or will have, expired by the end of the self-quarantine measures. Commercial flight options from Moscow to the UK are no longer available. If you want to travel back to the UK or have a return ticket to do so, please contact your airline to discuss your options.

Summary: Finland

Finnish borders will be closed to all non-resident foreign nationals entering the country, with some limited local exemptions. British residents should display an ID card or other proof of residence when arriving in Finland.

Non-resident British nationals are permitted to enter Finland for limited essential or compassionate reasons with evidence for their travel. See the Finnish Border Guard website for more information. Passengers are allowed to transit through Helsinki Airport as long as they can verify acceptance at their final destination.

Finland has introduced new measures that restrict travel into, and out of, the Uusimaa region (including the wider Helsinki area).

Trips to Helsinki airport is permitted if you have tickets for onward travel out of Finland

Summary: Japan

On 1 April the Japanese government announced that – for arrivals as of 3 April – it will deny entry to Japan for any non-Japanese nationals who have been to the UK or this list of countries in the last 14 days, other than in exceptional circumstances.

These measures also apply to people who live in Japan but are temporarily out of the country. Exceptions are restricted to those who left Japan on or before 2 April with re-entry permission and who are either holders of permanent residency permits (eijusha); or long-term residence permits (teijusha); or spouses or children of permanent residents (eijusha no haigusha-to) or direct relatives of Japanese nationals. In addition, those who leave Japan on or after 3 April will in principle be denied entry even in the above cases.

All passengers who arrive in Japan may be required to undergo a coronavirus screening test (PCR) and are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival at a designated location (such as a hotel or your own home) and to avoid using public transport. This request will remain in place until at least the end of April.

These measures do not apply to passengers who are transiting through the same airport and do not go through immigration. If you are transiting using different airports you will need a transit permit on arrival.

To get one you will be required to demonstrate that you have not come from a country on the banned list, that you have timely onward travel plans and show that you will not use public transport to move between airports; this includes taxis. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.

Summary: Sweden

British nationals visiting Sweden should be aware that travel options to and from the country are now limited due to coronavirus related restrictions.

Countries neighbouring Sweden (Denmark, Norway and Finland) have also introduced restrictions. The Danish Government announced that it was closing its borders for a month as of 1100 GMT on Saturday 14 March. Those normally living and working in Denmark will still be able to enter the country from Sweden. In addition, those who need to transit through Denmark in order to return to their place of residence will be able to.

However, tourists and those the Danish authorities say cannot demonstrate a recognised purpose (residence, work, delivery of goods, transit) to enter Denmark will not be allowed to cross the border. There may be further updates to how these policies take effect as the Danish and local authorities implement this ruling over coming days.

Summary: Italy

The Italian authorities have advised against travel for tourism purposes throughout Italy, and that tourists already on holiday in Italy should limit their movements to those necessary to return to the place where they live.

Travel to Italy is possible for emergency purposes only. Travellers arriving in Italy from abroad are obliged to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. They should also complete a self-declaration (“autodichiarazione”) stating the purpose of their trip to Italy and report promptly to local health authorities.

Only one airport per region is open.

Summary: India

All scheduled international commercial passenger services remain closed. All domestic flights have also been suspended.

All land borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal in East and North East India are closed.

The Government of India announced the suspension of all existing visas from 13 March to 15 April 2020 at the port of departure. Visa free travel for Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) is also suspended. This does not affect
foreign nationals or OCI holders who are already in India.

If your Indian visa has, or is due to expire, you will still need to apply for a visa extension via the standard (pre coronavirus) process. However, we are aware that there are currently issues with the visa application website.

Restrictions may vary between states. Several states are no longer allowing foreign nationals to enter while others are encouraging tourists to leave the state.

Call for Action:
Education and Support
We are pursuing a proactive and solution- based approach to the wider world of global mobility. Our education and support services are part of a full-service global mobility package being offered by IPM. It was incorporated to offer, all parties, a sense of certainty.

To further support businesses, we’ll continue to use the Employer Bulletin to tell you about new products and changes which may affect you and to give you access to further information if you need it.

With that in mind we also like to encourage you to contact us.

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