July 2021 Global Immigration Alert

Seyfarth Shaw LLP
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[co-author: Ryann Stout]

Please note: while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the below contains information regarding global restrictions and closures as they stand today. Given the constantly changing nature of this situation, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources, in “real-time” before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.

EU - Digital COVID Certificates

The EU Digital COVID Certificate was developed to facilitate the intra-EU travel of EU citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. As of July 1st, 2021 EU Member States can start issuing and accepting the EU Digital COVID Certificate. The certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature, and the European Commission has built a “gateway” through which all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. Please see further details here.

EU Travel Restrictions - Online Travel Tool

The Re-Open EU database (published by the European Union) is available for travelers to prepare for trips to and within the European Union. It shows up-to-date travel restrictions, entry requirements, and health measures. Please see here to access the Re-Open tool.

India - Visa Extensions for Foreign Nationals in India

The Indian authorities have recently announced that current holders of Indian visas unable to return to their home countries due to COVID -related restrictions will be permitted to remain in India until August 31, 2021 without facing penalties due to overstaying their visas. Such visa holders will not be required to submit applications for extensions of their current visas, and they may apply for entry/exit permissions without the risk of receiving an over-stay penalty or fine. Please see the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs press release for full details regarding this concession.

Israel - Pre-Entry Permits No Longer Required for Vaccinated Travelers

Starting July 1, 2021, travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may enter Israel without first obtaining a pre-entry permit. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior will publish guidelines regarding what forms of documentation will be accepted as evidence of vaccination for the purposes of entry. Please see here for more information regarding pre-entry permits.

Panama - Special Short-Stay Visas for Remote Workers

A new visa category called “Short-Stay Visa as a Remote Worker” has been implemented in Panama in hopes of encouraging non-residents to consider Panama as a destination for remote work and telecommuting. This category is available to foreign nationals who meet the following criteria:

  1. Have a contract as an operative of a foreign company of transnational character or be an autonomous worker in telework modality.
  2. Perform functions that take effect abroad.
  3. Receive income from foreign sources, with an annual salary of at least $36,000 USD or its equivalent in foreign currency.

The “Short-Stay Visa as a Remote Worker” may be granted for up to nine months, and may be extended once for the same period of time. It permits the holder to work in Panama remotely for a foreign employer without requiring any additional procedures such as obtaining a work permit.

Switzerland - Easing of COVID Measures and EU Digital COVID Certificate

The Swiss Federal Council announced the easing of some COVID-related measures effective June 26, 2021. Remote work is no longer a requirement but remains a recommendation, and regular workplace COVID testing is no longer required. Travelers from the Schengen area are no longer required to quarantine upon arrival in Switzerland, and COVID testing as part of entry procedures is only applicable to travelers arriving by plane who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) list of countries and risk-level determinations is updated on a continuous basis.

Additionally, the Swiss Federal Council confirms Switzerland will adopt the EU Digital COVID Certificate system (see description in first section, above). A Swiss certificate recognized by the EU is currently in development as well. Effective July 1, 2021, the EU COVID Certificate will be recognized by Swiss authorities as proof of vaccination.

Please see the SEM and Federal Office of Public Health websites for the latest updates regarding COVID policies and travel restrictions.

UK - Short-Term Travel and Business Visitor Entry

Standard visitors may stay in the UK for up to 6 months and perform activities including business visitor activities such as attending meetings, conferences, seminars, and interviews. Business visitors should clearly indicate “business” as the purpose of travel when arriving in the UK, especially in the case of EU citizens who are no longer permitted to perform work activities in the UK without obtaining a relevant work visa or leave. While the processing of business visitor visa applications remains suspended by the Home Office, existing visa holders or non-visa nationals who can travel with just their passport may enter. We recommend that you monitor the government-published guidance closely in advance of travel in the event of any changes. There is also an option to sign up for alerts from the Home Office to stay up to date (see here).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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