• Insights

Immigration and Global Mobility Update / December 2021

Authors
Sophie Maes
Partner - Belgium
Claeys & Engels
Global
03.12.21
27
Every 2 months, our experts from around the world put together an Update on immigration & global mobility, setting out recent changes to the law. This month, we include updates from 20 countries.
Argentina

Current conditions for entering Argentina

Argentina’s borders reopened from 1 November 2021. Non-resident foreign nationals can now travel to Argentina for any reason if they have been fully vaccinated, subject to the conditions below.

Electronic Affidavit

All travellers must submit an Electronic Affidavit. It is available on the official site of the National Directorate of Migrations and must be completed 48 hours before boarding.

PCR tests

 All travellers must submit a negative diagnostic test result taken 72 hours prior to international travel with the Electronic Affidavit.

Quarantine

Since 29 November 2021, travellers who have been in Africa within the 14 days prior to arrival must take a COVID-19 (antigen) test on arrival at the airport.

Those who test positive must then take a PCR test and comply with mandatory isolation in a place specified and provided by the national authorities at their own expense until safe transfer to their place of residence can be carried out, if applicable.

Those who test negative upon arrival must take a second PCR test on the tenth day after the first PCR test and remain in mandatory isolation until a negative result is received.

The cost of PCR test upon arrival and PCR test for genomic sequencing must be borne by the person entering the country.

Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated travellers

Argentineans and foreign residents who have not been completely vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival must quarantine and undergo a PCR test on the seventh day after arrival in the country. the result of which must be negative as a condition of leaving mandatory isolation.

Non-resident foreign nationals who are not completely vaccinated will only be allowed to travel to Argentina in exceptional circumstances, with prior authorisation from the National Ministry of Health.

Other and local conditions

There are other requirements relating to special travel insurance for non-resident foreign nationals, the use of the CUIDAR app for Argentinian nationals or residents or foreign nationals, the requirements of local destination jurisdictions in Argentina and the strict control of these measures by local jurisdictions.

The national health authority may update the requirements to the evolving epidemiological situation.

COVID-19 update on consular procedure and immigration

From 1 November 2021, Argentinean Consulates abroad are authorised to issue transitory or temporary visas without prior authorisation from the National Directorate of Migrations.

German Capoulat, Partner, Funes de Rioja & Asociados

Austria

Changes to COVID-19-related entry conditions

New entry rules came into force on 1 and 22 November 2021. Further restrictions in relation to the Omicron variant took effect on 27 November, see below.

The rules of entry from Cyprus described here expired on 31 October 2021.

From 22 November 2021, anyone who enters Austria from a country listed in Annex 1 without proof of compliance with the 2.5G rule (vaccinated, recovered or PCR-tested) must register for pre-travel clearance and take a PCR test (not an antigen test) within 24 hours after entry. Test results and medical certificates of PCR tests are no longer valid if the test/sample was taken more than 72 hours prior to entry.

Individuals entering from, or who have been in any other state not listed in either Annex 1 or Annex 2 within ten days before arrival must:

  • Carry evidence of compliance with the 5G rule (see above).
  • Register for pre-travel clearance (this can be done not earlier than 72 hours prior to entry).
  • Start a ten-day quarantine immediately after entry. Quarantine can be ended if another negative PCR test (not an antigen test) is done on the fifth day after entry at the earliest.

 

For individuals who regularly commute to Austria for work purposes, to attend school or college, for family purposes, or to visit a life partner, a negative antigen test result (executed by a certified institution) will also be considered as proof of low epidemiological risk. In this case the 3G rule applies: meaning they must be vaccinated, recovered, PRC or antigen-tested. Antigen test results are no longer valid if sample was collected more than 24 hours prior to entry.

Entry from a virus-variant country in Annex 2 remain as described here.

Omicron-related travel restrictions

From 27 November 2021, due to the Omicron variant, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini are classified as virus variant areas. Entry from these countries is therefore generally prohibited. Austrian citizens arriving from these seven countries are allowed to enter, but must comply with strict quarantine rules (ten-day quarantine, PCR test on arrival, registration for pre-travel clearance).

Additionally, flights arriving in Austria from these seven countries are prohibited from landing.

Birgit Vogt-Majarek, Partner, Lisa Hittinger, Associate, Schima Mayer Starlinger Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Belgium

New 2022 salary thresholds for employing foreign employees

Employers wanting to employ non-EEA/Swiss nationals in Belgium must obtain a work permit (up to 90 days) or a single permit (more than 90 days). For some categories work authorisation depends on an annual gross salary threshold. The thresholds differ according to the Region where the employee will work. For 2022, the following thresholds apply:

Highly skilled employee

  • Flanders: EUR 45,096 /EUR36,076.80 (for under-30s and nurses)
  • Brussels: EUR 44,097
  • Wallonia: EUR 44,097

 

Leading personnel

  • Flanders: EUR 72,154
  • Brussels: EUR 73,570
  • Wallonia: EUR 73,570

 

European blue card

  • Flanders: EUR 54,115
  • Brussels: EUR 56,111
  • Wallonia: EUR 57,019

 

Only a few weeks left for UK nationals to retain rights

UK nationals who lived in Belgium, or were active as a frontier worker on 31 December 2020, may retain their right to reside and work in Belgium under the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, to retain their rights they must obtain the status of ‘Beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement’. The application must be submitted to the municipality of their place of residence/work no later than 31 December 2021.

Specifically, this concerns the following people:

  • Holders of an E(+) or F(+) card or an Annex 8(+)
  • Frontier workers in possession of an Annex 15;
  • Individuals who can prove that they have exercised their right to free movement before 1 January 2021, but who do not have an E(+) card, F(+) card, Annex 8 or Annex 15;
  • Certain family members arriving in Belgium after 31 December 2020 can still qualify for Beneficiary status for three months after their arrival upon presentation of specified documents.

 

If the application is approved, the Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement receive an electronic residence card (‘M card’) or an electronic local border traffic card (‘N card’).

On the basis of these documents, they can continue to work in Belgium without any restrictions. Employers will therefore not have to apply for a work permit or single permit to employ these UK nationals in Belgium.

Sophie Maes, Partner, Claeys & Engels

Brazil

The Omicron variant: restrictions on border crossings

From 27 November 2021, Brazil has banned flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The ban includes both direct flights and those that have gone through these countries in the previous 14 days.

Brazilians and foreign national who are permitted to enter Brazil (see below), who have been to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia or Zimbabwe during the 14 days prior to the intended entrance in Brazil, must enter quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the city of their final destination.

Non-Brazilian nationals who are permitted to enter Brazil from one of these countries are:

  • foreign nationals with a residence permit for Brazil for a determinate or indeterminate period;
  • foreign officials accredited to the Brazilian Government;
  • foreign professionals on a mission in the service of an international organisation, as long as they are duly identified as such;
  • spouses, partners, children, parents or guardians of Brazilian citizens;
  • foreign nationals whose entry is specifically authorised by the Brazilian Government in the public interest or for humanitarian reasons; and
  • holders of Brazilian ID Cards for foreign nationals.

 

The full text of Ordinance No. 660 which introduced these restrictions is available (in Portuguese) here.

Isa Soter, Partner, Veirano Advogados

Canada

New Omicron variant travel restrictions

The Canadian Federal Government has announced additional border measures to address concerns related to the transmission of Omicron, a COVID-19 variant of concern.

As part of these enhanced measures, the Federal Government announced that, until at least 31 January 2022, foreign nationals who have been in the following countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted to enter Canada:

  • Botswana;
  • Egypt;
  • Eswatini;
  • Lesotho;
  • Malawi;
  • Mozambique;
  • Namibia;
  • Nigeria;
  • South Africa; and
  • Zimbabwe.

 

Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and individuals with status under the Indian Act, regardless of vaccination status or having previously tested positive for COVID-19, who have been in the above countries within the previous 14 days will be required to:

  • Obtain, within 72 hours of departure, a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test in a third country before continuing their journey to Canada;
  • Undergo testing upon arrival in Canada, regardless of vaccination status or having previously tested positive for COVID-19;
  • Complete a test on day 8 after arrival;
  • Quarantine for 14 days;
  • Individuals arriving by air will be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility while awaiting the results of their arrival test. Individuals will not be permitted to travel onwards to another destination until they have received a negative arrival test result and until their quarantine plan has been approved; and
  • Individuals arriving by land may proceed directly to their suitable quarantine location, however if they do not have a suitable plan (i.e. where they will not have contact with any individual they have not travelled with, or do not have private transportation to their place of quarantine), they will be required to stay at a designated quarantine facility.

 

There are no exemptions currently provided for to these new requirements. Further, the Federal Government has not provided additional details with respect to the location of these designated quarantine facilities, or who will bear the cost of staying in these facilities.

The Federal Government has also announced that all fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from any country other than the United States will be required to undergo arrival testing and to quarantine while awaiting the results.

All unvaccinated travellers, with the right of entry to Canada, will continue to be subject to testing on arrival, testing on day 8, and be required to quarantine for 14 days. Unvaccinated individuals arriving by air will also be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility, or other suitable location, while awaiting the results of their arrival test.

Lara Gradil, Associate, Mathews Dinsdale

Chile

New Omicron variant rules on entering Chile

From 1 December, non-residents of Chile may not enter the country if they come from: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique.

Chileans and foreign residents coming from those countries will need to undertake a seven-day quarantine independently of the results of a mandatory PCR test taken at the airport and their vaccination status.

Marcela Salazar, Partner, Munita & Olavarría

Croatia

Current COVID-19 restrictions on crossing national borders

On 12 November 2021, a new Croatian National Civil Protection Directory decision on temporary limits and prohibitions on crossing national borders (the ‘Decision’) came into force.

According to the Decision, travellers entering Croatia from an EU/Schengen country or regions can freely cross the Croatian border by presenting a valid EU digital COVID certificate (‘Certificate’). If they are in transit, they must prove at the border crossing point that they have not stayed in transit in countries/regions outside of EU/Schengen area.

Those travelling from outside the EU/Schengen area, or travelling without a Certificate) need to provide:

  • confirmation of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before crossing the border or of a negative fast antigen test (recognised in the EU) taken no more than 48 hours before crossing the border; or
  • confirmation of a completed course of (one or two doses, depending on the type of vaccine) no earlier than 365 days before crossing of the border; or
  • confirmation that the person has recovered from the virus and received one dose of vaccine within eight months after falling ill and vaccination was performed within no more than 365 days before crossing the border.

 

If this is not possible, travellers can take a PCR or fast antigen test immediately upon arrival to Croatia. In that case, the person must self-isolate until negative test result is obtained (if a traveller cannot take a test, self-isolation lasts for ten days).

Certain categories of individuals are exempt from providing the Certificate or meeting the conditions above, based on the nature of their profession and/or for economic reasons (such as medical workers, frontier workers, drivers of heavy goods vehicles, diplomatic personnel, individuals travelling to Croatia for urgent and important personal, family or business reasons provided they do not stay in Croatia over 12 hours, etc.).

After the current restrictions expire on 15 December 2021, amendments to the travel ban rules are to be expected depending on the epidemiological situation in Croatia.

Special Omicron variant border restrictions

On 30 November 2021, the Croatian National Civil Protection Directory published a decision temporarily prohibiting travellers from from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and Mozambique entering Croatia as a direct consequence of the spread of the new Omicron variant.

Individuals coming to Croatia from these countries, as well as individuals who have stayed there within 14 days are entirely prohibited from entering Croatia.

There is an exception for Croatian nationals and their family members, third-country nationals with regular long-term residence in an EU member state, and anyone with resident status in Croatia based on EU directives and/or national law. People in these categories coming to Croatia from the countries above can enter Croatia subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival and mandatory testing on the last day of quarantine.

After the current restrictions expire on 15 December 2021, any amendments will depend on the epidemiological situation and spread of Omicron in Croatia.

Andrej Žmikić, Attorney, Divjak, Topić, Bahtijarević & Krka

Europe

Reform of the European Blue Card

A new Directive (2021/1883) on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment has been published. The Directive aims to make it easier for European organisations to attract the non-European workers they need to develop their activities.

The reform is based on the main axes described below.

More flexible conditions

The salary threshold is reduced to a range between 100 and 160% of average gross annual salary, with the possibility of a range between 80 and 100% for shortage occupations and for young graduates. The minimum duration of an employment contract is also reduced to six months.

More intra-EU mobility

The Directive provides for a right to short-term intra-EU mobility allowing the European Blue Card holder to reside and work in another Member State for 90 days in any 180-day period. The Directive also provides for a right to long-term intra-EU mobility allowing the European Blue Card holder to reside and work in a second Member State after 12 months of legal residence in a first Member State, by submitting an application in the second Member State. Specific provisions apply for both short and long-term mobility.

Equivalence of skills

The Directive facilitates the recognition of professional skills for certain professions in the information and communication technology sector. Applicants with professional experience equivalent to a higher education degree in specific sectors will also be able to submit an application.

Member States have until 18 November 2021 to transpose the Directive into national law.

Sophie Maes, Partner, Claeys & Engels

Finland

Faster residence permits for foreign employees in 2021

This year, foreign employees have been granted residence permits on the basis of employment much faster than last year. In January to September 2021, the average processing time for permits was 77 days, whereas in 2020 it was 143 days. The aim is to be able to issue a work-related residence permit within a month in 2023. Increased automation and the development of permit processing practices and customer guidance have sped up the application process. On the Finnish Immigration Service site, there is now even a Processing Time Checker that calculates the approximate processing time for a specific residence permit (see here).

COVID-19 update on the restrictions on entry

Some restrictions on entry to Finland are still in place due to the pandemic and should be observed when planning to travel. See current guidelines from the Finnish border guard’s website here.

Karolina Sinivuori, Associate Trainee, Laura Parkkisenniemi, Associate, Dittmar & Indrenius

Greece

New national visa and residence permit for digital nomads

A new type of national visa has been introduced with a duration of 12 months and a residence permit with a duration of two years (renewable) that can be granted to third country nationals who are self-employed, freelancers or employees working remotely with the use of information and communication technologies for employers or clients outside of Greece, as well as to the family members of these digital nomads. This residence permit does not grant the right to the latter and to his/her husband/partner and family members to work as employees or free-lancers in Greece.

(Article 11 of Law 4825/2021)

Validity of Asylum Seekers Cards extended

The duration of validity of Asylum Seekers Cards has been extended from six months to one year. These cards are renewable until the assessment of the holder’s application for international protection has been completed.

(Article 21 of Law 4825/2021)

Update on COVID-19-related travel measures

Until 06:00 on 3 December 2021, EU and Schengen citizens and members of their families are exempt from the general travel ban in Greece under a Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD). Permanent residents of certain countries are also allowed to enter Greece in any way and by any means under the conditions set out in the JMD. The JMD also sets out exemptions to the travel ban for some categories of travellers, particularly those practising specific professions (e.g. medical and nursing staff) or holding specific residence permits. See the “JMD Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 74077” here (in Greek) for details.

Travellers can enter via the land borders at Promachonas, Ormenio, Evzonoi, Nymfaia, Niki, Doirani, Kristallopigi, Kipi, Kakavia, Kastanies and Exohi at any time. Limits apply at Kipi and Kastanies (1500 passengers per week, not including freight drivers). Mertziani is accessible from 08:00 to 20:00.

Cruising and yachting are allowed for passengers of countries not subject to special restrictive measures and under the conditions in the JMD. Maritime connections with Turkey are temporarily restricted with some exceptions, such as transport of goods by ships.

Health protocols

All visitors to Greece shall complete an electronic Passenger Locator Form (PLF) providing their contact details in Greece before their arrival. A valid PLF with a QR code is required for entry.

All travellers to Greece must also meet one of the following conditions:

  • Have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days previously and provide an official vaccination certificate in Greek, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish or Russian;
  • Present a negative PCR test conducted up to 72 hours before arrival in Greece or a negative antigen (rapid) test conducted up to 48 hours before arrival in Greece. This is subject to conditions relating to the testing lab and to the information that must be provided about the traveller.
  • Present a certificate proving that s/he tested positive for COVID-19 with a PCR or antigen test in the past 30 to 180 days. A certificate is issued 30 days after the day of the first positive COVID-19 test and is valid for 180 days after it. The certificate must be drafted in one of the languages listed above and include the name and surname of the person, as they appear on his or her passport.
  • Have a digital or paper COVID-19 certificate, in accordance with Greek or other EU member states’ provisions, with information on vaccination, result of last rapid or PCR test, compliant with the time periods described above.

 

Special health protocols apply for permanent residents of some counties, such as Russia.

Finally, all visitors to Greece can be subjected to random PCR or rapid testing and should respect the emergency COVID-19 measures during their stay.

Roubini Michaloudi, Associate, Kremalis-Law Firm

India

Current restrictions on international flights

Presently all commercial flights, except for those permitted through Air Transport Bubbles, are banned until 15 December 2021.

However, from 15 November 2021, foreign nationals intending to visit India for tourism are allowed to enter on an e-Tourist Visa/ Tourist Visa through chartered flights.

In addition, citizens of all countries with which India has established Air Transport Bubbles are also permitted to travel to India on an e-Tourist Visa.

There are currently no restrictions on travel for individuals holding employment or business visas.

If a foreign national is required to extend his or her visa in India from 1 October 2021, s/he may apply for an extension on the online e-FRRO platform by paying the requisite fee. Each application will be considered by the relevant FRRO/FRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office or Foreigner Registration Office) subject to the eligibility criteria.

Vijay Ravi, Senior Partner, Sabrina Sawhney, Senior Associate, Kochhar & Co.

Italy

UK citizens residing in Italy before Brexit retain their rights

On 18 October 2021, the National Social Security Body (INPS) published a note regarding the rights of UK citizens who were already residing in Italy before Brexit.

In its instructions, the INPS stated that those citizens should also be treated as EU citizens for the period after Brexit. As a consequence, they maintain rights linked to their residence in Italy with reference to getting access to social security assistance and to all allowances.

Valeria Morosini, Partner, Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo e Soci

Kazakhstan

Omicron variant travel restrictions

To prevent the introduction of the new Omicron variant into Kazakhstan, the measures set out below apply from 3 December.

Entry into Kazakhstan of foreign citizens from Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Hong Kong is restricted.

A PCR test is mandatory, regardless of vaccination status, for travellers arriving from countries with detected COVID cases caused by the Omicron variant; currently Israel, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Canada.

Travellers arriving from countries with detected COVID cases caused by the Omicron variant must self-isolate for seven days (home quarantine), regardless of their PCR test result.

General entry requirements in Kazakhstan

All travellers entering Kazakhstan must submit a certificate with a negative PCR COVID-19 test result no more than three days old (children under five are exempt, provided that the people accompanying them have certificates).

Аll travellers (except for residents of Kazakhstan and individuals with permanent residence permit in Kazakhstan who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Kazakhstan, providing documentary confirmation) must fill in the questionnaire and pass temperature monitoring.

Individuals arriving in Kazakhstan with a normal temperature plus a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 or confirmation of vaccination against COVID-19 in Kazakhstan are given an explanation of the possible symptoms of COVID-19 and must complete an acknowledgement document. They may then resume travel to the point of destination. Anyone arriving with a fever, regardless of any PCR test or vaccination documentation, must isolate in a contagious inpatient facility.

The current visa regime in Kazakhstan

Starting from 1 November 2020, Kazakhstan resumed issuing visas and other permit documents for foreign nationals staying in Kazakhstan.

Until 31 December 2021, the unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of 57 countries has been suspended (except for the EAEU countries and other countries with visa-free entry under international agreements).

Yuliya Chumachenko, Partner, AEQUITAS

Mexico

Temporary visa requirement for Brazilian nationals

The Mexican government has announced the suspension of the Visa Waiver Agreement for Brazilian nationals. This means visas will be temporarily required in ordinary passports of Brazilian nationals to enter Mexico.

The agreement will come into effect on 17 December 2021.

Prior to entry, visitors wishing to enter by air must request an electronic or virtual visa and those seeking to enter by land or sea must apply for the appropriate visa from the Mexican consulate.

Margarita Ortiz, Senior Associate, Basham, Ringe & Correa

New Zealand

On 30 September 2021, the Government announced the ‘2021 Resident Visa’, a one-off ‘simplified pathway’ to residence that will become available for up to 165,000 migrants currently in New Zealand.

To be eligible, the principal applicant must have been in New Zealand on 29 September 2021, and hold or have applied for (and subsequently be granted) one of the eligible work visas on or before 29 September 2021.

Eligible work visas include (but are not limited to) Essential Skills, Work to Residence, and Post Study Work visas.

Applicants must also meet one of the following criteria (as of 29 September 2021):

  • have lived in New Zealand for three years or more;
  • earn above the median wage (NZD 27 per hour or more); or
  • work in a role on a list of scarce occupations.

 

Applications will open in two phases: on 1 December 2021 and 1 March 2022. All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.

Vaccination requirement for non-citizens on entry

From 1 November 2021, all non-New Zealand citizens aged 17 and over must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed entry into New Zealand (unless they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons).

Simon Lapthorne, Executive Partner, Meilun Chen, Senior Solicitor, Kiely Thompson Caisley

Poland

Current COVID-19 travel restrictions in Poland

Entry to Poland from Schengen countries is possible for anyone as the internal EU borders remain open.

Only certain individuals who arrive from non-Schengen countries may enter Poland. They include individuals who:

  • travel in the course of work;
  • are citizens of EU, Belarus, UK and Ukraine.

 

In addition, citizens of the US, Canada, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Australia, Georgia, Tunisia, Thailand, New Zealand and Turkey or individuals who have a residence permit in one of these countries may enter Poland if they travel by plane.

Travellers entering Poland must quarantine for ten days if they travel from Schengen countries.

Travellers from non-Schengen countries must quarantine for 14 days.

The following are exempt from quarantine:

  • travellers from Schengen countries who have a negative PCR or antigen test result for COVID-19 performed within 48 hours before crossing the border counted from the moment of the test result;
  • individuals who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to arrival in Poland with vaccines authorised for use in the EU or authorised by the Polish National Institute of Public Health;
  • individuals who have isolated or been hospitalised due to COVID-19 infection and who are crossing the Polish border not later than six months from the end of isolation or hospitalisation.

 

Early release from quarantine obligation is available for individuals who:

  • begin their journey in Schengen countries, take a COVID-19 test directly after crossing Polish border and receive a negative result;
  • begin their journey in non-Schengen countries, undergo at least eight days’ quarantine, take a PCR COVID-19 test and receive a negative result.

 

Individuals starting their journey from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of South Africa or Zimbabwe who are not exempted from the quarantine obligation must quarantine for 14 days. No early release is available.

Individuals entering Poland who are exempt from quarantine must provide relevant documents confirming their status and which exception applies.

Michał Kacprzyk, Senior Associate, Head of Immigration & Global Mobility Practice, Raczkowski

Russia

Starting from 1 August 2020, the Russian Government has gradually supplemented the list of countries whose citizens can enter Russia from the state of their citizenship or residence, in addition to individuals with a residence permit. During October 2021 and November 2021, the list was extended to include the following states: Andorra, Denmark, Djibouti, Columbia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa (entry is currently restricted due to the Omicron variant), the Bahamas, Iran, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Slovenia, Thailand, Tunisia and Sweden.

Travellers arriving from these countries and Russian citizens are exempted from the compulsory 14-day self-isolation. However, foreign nationals must have a pre-travel negative PCR test that is a maximum of 72 hours old. Russian citizens may undergo COVID-19 testing within three days after arrival (the rules do not apply to those who have completed vaccination or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months).

Omicron variant restrictions

Starting 28 November 2021, due to the emergence of the Omicron variant and following a decision of the Russian COVID-19 Operational Staff, Russia has temporarily prohibited entry from the following countries:

  • South Africa;
  • Botswana;
  • Lesotho;
  • Namibia;
  • Zimbabwe;
  • Mozambique;
  • Madagascar;
  • Tanzania;
  • Hong Kong;
  • Eswatini.

 

Foreign nationals (with any citizenship) who were in the above countries during the last ten days are forbidden to enter Russia. Russian citizens may return, but will be rapid tested for COVID-19. This also applies to foreign nationals arriving from China, Israel, the UK or Ireland.

New fingerprint, photo and medical examination requirements for long stays

Starting from 29 December 2021, amendments to existing migration legislation come into force. According to the new requirements, all foreign employees and those applying for a migration ‘patent’ or work permit must undergo the following procedures within 30 calendar days from the date of entry:

  • registration of fingerprints (dactyloscopy) and photographing;
  • medical examination to confirm the absence of dangerous infection or drug addiction.

 

Foreign nationals entering for non-employment purposes shall pass the above procedures within 90 days from the entry date if their period of stay exceeds this term.

If a foreign national fails to fulfil the above requirements, the period of his or her temporary stay will be curtailed and a decision on whether s/he can stay in Russia may be made (i.e. the foreign national may be obliged to leave the country). Additionally, if any infection or drug addiction is revealed, the foreign national may be banned from entering Russia.

Close relatives of resident foreign nationals entitled to enter Russia

The Russian Government has supplemented its current migration regulations on the entry of foreign nationals. The list of individuals who are eligible for entry to Russia has been extended to close relatives of foreign citizens permanently residing in Russia. Upon entry, they must present copies of documents confirming their family relationship with the resident foreign citizen.

Previously, only family members of Russian citizens were entitled to enter upon this ground.

14-day quarantine does not apply to Highly Qualified Specialists

On 19 October 2021, Rospotrebnadzor (the federal authority for supervision of human rights protection and welfare) clarified on its website that the requirement of 14-day quarantine for foreign employees coming to Russia does not apply to highly qualified specialists (HQS). They must only provide a negative PCR test result taken not earlier than three calendar days prior to arrival in Russia.

It is worth mentioning that this clarification has not been formalised in any official documents, meaning its legal force is currently unclear. Practically, given the above, most companies continue to ask their HQSs to undertake a self-isolation regime.

Irina Anyukhina, Partner, Margarita Egiazarova, Senior Associate, ALRUD

Serbia

Current entry requirements  

To enter Serbia, foreign nationals must have either: 

  • a negative PCR test or a negative FIA Rapid Antigen test for US citizens that is no more than 48 hours old; 
  • confirmation of vaccination issued by Serbia, or a foreign country which has concluded an agreement on acceptance of vaccination with Serbia (Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, UAE, the Czech Republic and India) or has de facto reciprocity in acceptance of vaccination; or 
  • a certificate of COVID-19 infection indicating the foreign national has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last six months, issued by the competent authority in Serbia or a foreign country which has de facto reciprocity in acceptance of these certificates; or 
  • an EU digital certificate or digital certificate issued by the competent authorities of countries outside EU that are part of the EU Digital COVID certificate system.

 

However, this does not apply to: 

  • citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, North Macedonia and Montenegro, when entering from these countries;  
  • other foreign nationals with approved residency in the countries mentioned above, if they deliver a negative PCR or Antigen test to the public health institute within 48 hours from crossing the Serbian border; 
  • foreign citizens in transit through Serbia for a period not longer than 12 hours from entry. 

 

All travellers arriving in Serbia from countries considered at special risk of spread of COVID-19 (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi), are allowed to enter Serbia if they present one of the first three documents mentioned above. Foreign nationals must also present an email received after registration via this site (Foreigners Surveillance Registration section) as proof of successful registration prior to arrival in Serbia and a completed and personally signed statement of consent accepting quarantine.  

All travellers from these countries will be subjected to 14 days’ home quarantine with mandatory testing within the first 24 hours from entry and on the seventh day.  

Domestic and foreign citizens entering Serbia for business reasons are allowed to enter if they notify the Serbian Chamber of Commerce prior to arrival and submit a negative PCR test or negative FIA Rapid Antigen test to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce within 24 hours of crossing the border.   

The same rules regarding conditions for entering Serbia apply to domestic citizens and foreign nationals with approved residency, except that confirmation of vaccination is accepted irrespective of whether Serbia has concluded an agreement on acceptance with the relevant country.

Milena Papac, Partner, Karanovic & Partners 

Slovakia

Update on rules for entering Slovakia 

The Omicron variant has triggered the need to amend the rules for entering Slovakia. With effect from 1 December 2021 the rules set out below apply. 

For all individuals returning from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Israel, Hong Kong, and Seychelles: 

  • Quarantine is mandatory. This ends either on the 14th day without taking PCR tests, or after receiving two negative RT-PCR test results, the first test taken not earlier than on the first day after arrival and the second on the eighth day after arrival. 
  • Quarantine is also mandatory for household members of these travellers.   
  • Travellers must register using a specific form available here. Travellers using air transport must also complete another form available here 

 

For other arrivals, the rules depend on whether travellers are vaccinated or not.  

Vaccinated individuals:   

  • Must register using a specific form available here. (irrespective of number of entries, the registration is valid for six months).  
  • Must provide proof of vaccination (EU Covid-pass or confirmation of vaccination, or any equivalent confirmation issued by a third country translated into Slovak, Czech or English).  
  • Arrivals by air must also register using a specific form available here. Entering Slovakia from countries other than those listed above also requires a negative RT-PCR test not older than 72 hours (note: currently the test is not required for 64 countries; see Annex No. 1 here, in Slovak). 

 

Non-vaccinated individuals: 

  • Must register using a specific form available here 
  • Must quarantine. Quarantine ends either on the tenth day after arrival if they do not PCR tests, or after receiving a negative RT-PCR test result, which can be taken not earlier than on the fifth day after arrival.  
  • Quarantine is also mandatory for household members.  
  • When using air transport, the same additional obligations apply as for vaccinated individuals. 

 

There are still some additional exemptions for specific social groups (students, children, individuals traveling for medical diagnostic or treatment reasons, commuters, etc.).  

Dajana Csongrádyová, Senior AssociateMarek Bugan, AssociateNITSCHNEIDER & PARTNERS, advokátska kancelária, s. r. o. 

Spain

Changes to immigration procedure in the audiovisual and cultural sectors

On 13 November, changes to the procedure for the entry and stay in Spain of third-country nationals who carry out activities in the audiovisual sector or an artistic activity, either public performance or recording for mass media broadcast were published in the Spanish Official Gazette (BOE) the Order PCM/1238/2021.

There are three main scenarios.

Less than 90 days in any 180-day period.

No work authorisation is needed for a stay of less than 90 days in any 180-day period. Entry will be under the Schengen regulations. If foreign nationals are subject to a visa requirement, a uniform visa will be issued.

If the 90-day period must be extended for unforeseen reasons, it is possible to submit a stay permit up to 180 days. The application shall be submitted at least 30 days before the expiry of the initial allowed 90-day stay period in the Schengen area.

Audiovisual sector visas between 90 and 180 days.

Activities for a period between 90 and 180 days may be carried out under a visa for stay for the audiovisual sector. The visa application should be submitted at the Spanish consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, either in person or by their legal representative or a representative of the company hiring or posting them.

Audiovisual sector residence permits for more than 180 days.

A residence authorisation allowing the holder to work, and corresponding visa if applicable, must be applied for prior starting work activities.

Family members accompanying participants may obtain visas and authorisations allowing this.

This amendment is quite revolutionary because it removes substantial administrative hurdles and time restrictions that previously applied for companies operating in the audio-visual and artistic sectors, allowing them to undertake their activities easily in Spain.

Mounia Jrabi, Executive Immigration Practice Leader, Sagardoy Legal & Expat SLP

Turkey

Omicron variant travel restrictions

Flights from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe are suspended. Passengers who have been to these countries in the past 14 days who wish to enter Turkey from another country are allowed to board the flight if they can submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival in Turkey.

Upon arrival, they will be quarantined for 14 days in government-designated locations. After ten days, quarantine can end if they receive a negative PCR test result. If the traveller’s day 14 PCR test is positive, current Ministry of Health guidelines will be followed.

Accommodation and transfer costs must be covered by passengers and paid before travel. Passengers who fail to submit proof of accommodation payment will not be permitted to board flights to Turkey.

Current COVID-19 travel restrictions

Passengers arriving from Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan must submit a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival to Turkey.

Passengers on direct flights from Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan and passengers who have been to these countries in the last 14 days shall be exempt from quarantine if they can document that they have had two doses of any of the vaccines approved by WHO or the Ministry of Health of the Turkish Republic (single dose for Johnson & Johnson) and 14 days have passed since the last dose. If not, these passengers must quarantine at their residence. If the day 10 PCR test is negative, quarantine ends. Passengers who do not take a day 10 PCR test must quarantine for 14 days. If the day 10 or 14 PCR test is positive, current General Directorate of Public Health guidance will be followed.

Passengers travelling from Iran and Egypt must submit a PCR test taken within 72 hours before entry, or a vaccination card

showing that they have received two doses of any of the vaccines approved by WHO or the Ministry of Health of the Turkish Republic (single dose for Johnson & Johnson) and 14 days have passed since the last dose.

Rules for minors

Passengers under age of 12 are exempt from the PCR/antigen test report and proof of vaccine requirement.

Passengers over 12 and younger than 18 travelling with their parents and arriving from the countries above can board the flight if they can submit a PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival or a document stating that they have had two doses of any of the vaccines approved by WHO or the Ministry of Health of the Turkish Republic (single dose for Johnson and Johnson) and 14 days have passed from the last dose. These passengers must take a PCR test at their residence and are exempt from quarantine if the result is negative.

Useful travel information links

The International Airport Transport Association (IATA) provides country-by-country English language alerts here.

Countries can be easily added to this list so please check for updates.

Check for updates to air travel restrictions on boarding and reservation changes here.

Other updates are available from the Turkish Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure website and the

Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation website.

As in many countries, the situation fluctuates on a daily basis, so travellers should check for updates.

Metin Ertürk, Business Development Manager, Bener Law Office, Turkey

United Kingdom

Omicron variant: red list countries and new restrictions

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe were added to the COVID-19 travel red list for England from 12:00 GMT on Friday 26 November 2021. Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia were added from 04:00 GMT on Sunday 28 November 2021.

What arrangements have been put in place?

Direct flights from the first six countries to England were briefly banned between 12:00 GMT on Friday 26 November 2021 and 04:00 GMT on Sunday 28 November 2021.

Individuals who are not British citizens, Irish citizens or UK residents are not allowed to enter England unless they have only transited the relevant countries airside in order to catch a connecting flight.

British nationals, Irish nationals and UK residents who have been in any of the countries within the last ten days and arrive after 04:00 GMT on Sunday 28 November must undertake pre-departure COVID-19 testing, complete a passenger locator form and book a quarantine hotel package including day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests in advance of their arrival.

All fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in England from any country from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday 30 November 2021 must take an NHS PCR day 2 test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Other international travellers must follow additional guidance depending on whether they have been in a red list country in the ten days before arriving in England.

Guidance on processing of visitor applications from these countries confirms that although applications will still be accepted, they will not be processed or concluded until travel restrictions are lifted, unless it is accepted that there is an urgent compelling or compassionate reason for travel.

Why have these measures been introduced?

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 (also known as the Omicron variant) has been designated as a variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency. The variant has a large number of spike protein mutations and other mutations in comparison to the original strain that causes COVID-19 illness. Investigation needs to be undertaken to determine whether existing vaccines and treatments are less effective against the variant, as well as whether it is more transmissible.

Further guidance will be issued once investigations have progressed and any mitigations have been recommended. In the meantime, it is possible that further countries will be added to the red list as the variant spreads.

Increased interest in government authorised exchange schemes to enter the UK

We are currently seeing increased interest in the UK’s  Government Authorised Exchange visa, which is designed for temporary workers intending to undertake a short period of work experience (including internships) or training, an overseas government language programme, research or a fellowship.

Due to the ending of free movement for EEA/Swiss workers after 31 December 2021, many more people now require sponsorship by an approved overarching body responsible for administering an exchange scheme for a particular purpose or organisation. Some exchange schemes enable work in the UK for a maximum of 24 months, while others are limited to a maximum of 12 months.

Individuals should consider taking advice on which scheme may be appropriate for the activities they intend to undertake, and ensure they have the relevant visa in place before arriving in the UK.

Supinder Sian, Partner, Lewis Silkin