[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.
Australia - Federal Budget Announcements for Immigration Numbers
Australia’s recent Federal Budget included an announcement for annual immigration program numbers for the 2021-2022 year, confirming Migration Program planning levels will be maintained at the current level of 160,000. Allocations for family-based and skilled stream visas will continue in alignment with the authorities’ focus on applications filed from within Australia (“onshore” applications). The government will grant priority to highly-skilled migrants in the employer-sponsored, business innovation, and investor programs, as well as migrants in the global talent program for skilled stream applications. The Australian government indicated it will grant concessions to temporary visa holders in Australia in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to focus on the impact of immigration for long-term economic recovery. Australia’s borders remain closed, with travel continuing to be restricted, and these measures will likely remain in place through the end of the 2021 calendar year.
EU - European Travel Information and Authorization System
The EU Commission has announced that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) for automated border checks for the entry and exit of third-country nationals will take effect at the end of 2022. The ETIAS system was scheduled to be implemented in 2021, but its launch was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Third-country nationals eligible to travel to EU and Schengen countries visa-free as visitors will be required to obtain a travel authorization from ETIAS before they travel. The ETIAS authorization will be valid for a period of three years. Applications may be made via an online system and require an application fee of €7.
The ETIAS system is part of the EU’s “Smart Borders” package, which was designed to automate travel procedures. Additionally, the system will collect information about travel in and out of Schengen member states in order to calculate the length of stays for visitors electronically. This will be a helpful resource for travelers, enabling them to track their stays in the Schengen region given the allowed 90 days of stay in a “rolling” 180-day period for visitors. The system may alert relevant authorities when travelers appear to have overstayed based on the entry/exit data. See the initial EU Commission announcement for more information.
Ireland - Updates to Emergency/Priority Categories for Visa Processing
A recent update to the Irish Department of Justice’s guidance for COVID-19 indicates visa processing for additional visa categories, including Employment Visas and Join Family Visas, have resumed. This update will positively affect Employment Permit applicants who are visa-required nationals and have been unable to obtain visas to enter Ireland. Applications for short-term visas such as visitor visas will continue to be suspended. Additionally, the Department has imposed new visa requirements for citizens of South Africa in light of new COVID variants. See here for more details.
Italy - New Entry Rules Implemented
Travelers from certain European countries are no longer required to quarantine upon arrival in Italy. Health declaration forms are still required for all arrivals, along with COVID-19 Green Certificates confirming a negative test result taken within 48 hours prior to travel. Additionally, travelers from the U.S., Canada, and Japan are no longer required to have a specific essential reason for travel in order to enter Italy. Upon arrival, travelers from these countries must inform the Prevention Department of the local health authority that they have entered Italy, must complete a self-declaration form, present a negative molecular or antigen swab test taken within the last 72 hours before entering Italy, and quarantine for 10 days. After the period of self-isolation, the traveler must take another molecular or antigenic test. Please see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information.