International Crisis Management (‘Coronavirus’)

In this alert we provide guidance for travel and border (Entry and Exit) restrictions. Correct as of 30th March 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: Germany

Germany has intensified border controls at airports and land borders. Unless travellers are 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.

The British Embassy understands that British citizens may still be able to enter Germany in order to transit to the UK, but proof of onward travel will be required. You should bear in mind that the situation is changing quickly and that border police in some regions may take a stricter 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.

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 are 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.

Before you travel, check with your airline, travel operator or hotel for any changes of 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 locations.

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 have announced a loosening of travel restrictions to and from Wuhan from 8 April.

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.

Copenhagen and Billund airports are open. However, there are limited commercial means to return to the UK by air. From 21 March until at least 4 April, there will be no commercial flights to and from Greenland. The commercial air service to the Faroe Islands has been severely reduced, with only one daily service to and from Copenhagen.

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 still commercial routes available.

As of 16 March, it will 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 the USA, subject to normal entry requirements. Those allowed entry to the USA may be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days 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.

Summary: Pakistan

The Pakistani authorities have closed the borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India.

On 25 March, the government of Pakistan announced the suspension of all domestic flight operations with effect from 26 March, until 2 April. This followed that on 21 March, the government of Pakistan announced the suspension of all international flights to and from Pakistan.

Summary: Finland

Finnish borders will be closed initially between 19 March and 13 April 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. Passengers are allowed to transit through the airport as long as they can verify acceptance at their final destination.

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. Those with symptoms will be isolated. The Norwegian Health Directorate advise that all travellers arriving after 27 February and who have travelled to countries other than Finland and Sweden are required to enter self-quarantine for a period of 14 days after arrival.

From 16 March onwards those arriving from Sweden and Finland will also be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Exemptions for workers crossing the Swedish and Finnish borders will apply, and finally Rules on how long you need to remain in quarantine have been clarified to allow those not showing symptoms to leave immediately.

Summary: Singapore

From 23 March, no short-term visitors from anywhere in the world are able to enter or transit through Singapore. If you need to visit Singapore for 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.

From 29 March, 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. All work pass holders must comply with all Singapore government regulations or face their passes being revoked and fines or jail.

The Singaporean Ministry of Manpower will only allow work pass holders and/or their dependents to enter/ return to Singapore if they work in essential services eg. healthcare and transport. Employers of work pass holders are required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Manpower before pass holders travel to Singapore. If approval is not granted, employers must wait at least one week before submitting another application.

Work pass holders will be refused entry or risk deportation if they do not comply with this requirement. Permanent Residents will be permitted to return to Singapore but will be issued with a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SHN).

Everyone entering Singapore from the UK or the US is required to serve their 14 days SHN isolated in a hotel room or similar accommodation provided by the Singapore government. If you are issued with a SHN you must serve the whole of your SHN period and must remain at your designated location at all times, or face a fine and a jail term of up to six months. If you have an SHN in force, you will not be allowed to leave Singapore until you have served 14 days in isolation.

From 23 March, no short-term visitors from anywhere in the world are able to enter or transit through Singapore. If your planned journey requires you to transit through Singapore, you should contact your airline immediately.

From 27 March, Permanent Residents and approved work pass holders arriving in 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.
If you are booked on British Airways flight BA15 (London-Sydney) up to and including 6 April or BA16 (Sydney-London) up to and including 8 April, you do not need to contact British Airways about your transit. These are designated commercial flights and will make a technical stop in Singapore; you will remain on the aircraft. Unfortunately, British Airways has announced that it is cancelling this flight between 9 and 22 April. If you have booked during this period, you will need to contact BA to discuss alternative arrangements.

The significant tightening of restrictions on those who can enter or transit via Singapore is likely to have an impact on the availability of flight options to leave Singapore. British nationals in Singapore who wish to leave, including visitors, should make arrangements to do so as soon as possible. You may otherwise find you are not able to leave Singapore when you had planned to.

Summary: Russia

From 30 March, temporary restrictions on entry and exit via Russia’s land borders, including with Belarus, will be enforced as part of wider coronavirus-related measures. This followed that 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 transit passengers and those with permanent residency in Russia.

It is since reported that the list of certain groups has since been to include the UK, US, all EU member States, Ukraine, Belarus and other European countries. Passengers arriving from these countries will be asked on arrival in Moscow to sign a document agreeing to self-isolate at home for a period of 14 days. In a small number of cases foreign visitors have been placed in enforced quarantine if they have been found not to have complied with this requirement. The requirement extends to family members or anyone living with those arriving from these countries.

The Moscow authorities have recommended that visitors from the following countries should self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Moscow, irrespective of whether they have symptoms: China, South Korea, Italy,
Iran, France, Germany and Spain.

Russian authorities have also banned entry to foreigners from numerous countries. This applies to air, road or rail travel from China at all crossing points, except for Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, to all air travel from South Korea at all crossing points, except for Sheremetyevo airport, to all travel from Italy and Iran at all crossing points for all purposes, including transit. Exceptions for all these countries are made for those with Russian residence permits.

Visa extensions have been granted for those nationals who are in Russia at present but cannot travel back to the UK, regardless of the purpose of entry.

Commercial flight options are still available , although these are declining.

Summary: France

On 20 March 2020, the French Government announced reinforced border controls with the UK. UK nationals wishing to cross the border to return to the UK via France can still do so. The French Government confirmed on 20 March that UK national’s resident in France could continue to enter France if returning to their principal residence.

On 16 March, the French Government announced that the EU would suspend travel between the EU and non-European countries for an initial period of 30 days from midday 17 March. Permanent residents of EU countries, including France, will be able to cross the UK/France border into France if they have proof of residence. The French Government confirmed that UK nationals could continue to enter France if returning to their principal residence. You must, however complete the necessary “attestation” confirming that your travel is an absolutely necessary journey.

The French authorities have also confirmed there are now border checks in place with Italy, Spain and Germany. Some countries are imposing a compulsory period of quarantine for all travellers from France.

Summary: Japan

All passengers arriving in Japan from the UK, as well as from countries listed below, 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 and do not go through immigration. You should also comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Iran, Ireland, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta,
Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Vatican. These measures already apply to those arriving from China and the Republic of Korea.

As a preventative measure against the spread of Coronavirus, the Government of Japan has announced that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, foreign nationals who have visited certain countries or regions within 14 days of arrival in Japan are not permitted to enter.

In addition, those who hold a Chinese passport issued by Hubei or Zhejiang provinces are not permitted to enter Japan. Visas issued by the Japanese authorities in China and Korea for future travel to Japan have been cancelled, and visa exemptions for travellers from the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and Macao have been stopped. There are enhanced quarantine procedures at entry points to Japan such as airports and ports.

Japan has suspended its visa waiver system for anyone travelling on a British Citizen or British National (Overseas) passport until at least the end of April 2020. Japan has also suspended single and multiple entry visas issued by Japanese Embassies and Consulate Generals in the UK and those countries to which self-isolation measures apply (listed in the Health section). Anyone arriving in Japan without a valid visa will not
be able to enter.

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 timely onward travel plans and (if arriving from a country for which Japan has travel restrictions) show that you will not use public transport to move between airports. Those already in Japan can remain until their visa waiver expires. Those who still wish to travel to Japan can apply for a visa, but this is likely to take more time than usual.

These measures do not impact on the ‘Status of Residence’ of British nationals already living in Japan. British nationals who are living in Japan and are currently outside of Japan with re-entry permission are able to return, unless they have travelled to any of the countries or regions to which an entry ban applies in the 14 days prior to arrival (listed above).

In addition, all passengers arriving from the UK, as well as from countries listed in the Health section, are requested 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 2020. These measures do not apply to passengers who are transiting and do not go through immigration. Japan has suspended its visa waiver system for anyone travelling on a British Citizen or British National (Overseas) passport until at least the end of April 2020, among other measures. This means that you will not be able to enter Japan as a visitor without a visa. Single and multiple entry visas have also been suspended.

Summary: Sweden

Countries neighbouring Sweden (Denmark, Norway and Finland) have introduced the same restrictions. Those normally living and working in Sweden will still be able to enter the country. In addition, those who need to transit through Sweden in order to return to their place of residence will be able to. However tourists and those the authorities say cannot demonstrate a recognised purpose (residence, work, delivery of goods, transit) to enter Sweden will not be allowed to cross the border.

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. People arriving in Italy from abroad are obliged to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. They should also report promptly to local health authorities. Only one airport per region remains open.

Summary India

Restrictions now vary by state but generally speaking the Government of India announced that all scheduled international commercial passenger services will remain closed until 14 April 2020. All domestic flights have also been suspended.

It is a mandatory requirement in a number of states for foreign nationals to complete a health declaration. The state Government of Kerala has advised a health clearance certificate is required for all foreign nationals before they will be permitted to board outbound international flights if/when they occur.

The Government of India announced the suspension of all existing visas due to coronavirus (COVID-19) from 13 March 2020 to 15 April 2020 at the port of departure. This does not affect the visas of foreign nationals who are already in India.

Visa free travel for Overseas Citizens of India is also suspended until 15 April 2020. This does not affect OCI holders who are already in India.

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 would also like to encourage you to contact us.

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