Every 2 months, our experts from around the world put together an Update on the law on immigration & global mobility, setting out recent changes to the law. See our Update for April 2021, with new rules for 22 countries.
Update on COVID-19 restrictions on travel
Argentina's borders will remain closed until 9 April 2021 inclusive for non-resident foreign nationals.
Administrative Decisions (2252/2020, 2/2021, 44/2021 and 268/2021 issued by the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers) have amended the rules on travel and quarantine in Argentina.
Until 9 April 2021 the following applies:
1. The pilot test for tourism from neighbouring countries (introduced by Administrative Decision No. 1949/20) remains suspended.
2. Authorisations that had been granted for direct flights on air routes from and to the UK and Northern Ireland, Brazil, Chile and Mexico are suspended for passengers. The Decisions also provide that the Ministry of Transport (through the National Civil Aviation Administration) may expand the list of countries on prior intervention by the national health authority.
3. Authorisations that had been granted for entry and exit through authorised border crossings are suspended. All land border crossings are temporarily closed.
4. Until 9 April 2021, the following categories of people are authorised to enter Argentina:
- carriers or crew members of any nationality;
- nationals and residents of Argentina;
- foreign nationals expressly authorised by the National Directorate of Migrations to carry out a work or commercial activity; to fulfil an official diplomatic mission; to participate in sporting events, or for family reunification with Argentines or residents;
- foreign nationals declared to be in transit to other countries who will remain at the international airport for less than 24 hours.
Conditions for entry to Argentina
1. Electronic Affidavit for entering Argentina
All travellers must submit an Electronic Affidavit. It is available on the official site of the National Directorate of Migrations (www.migraciones.gob.ar) and must be completed 48 hours before boarding.
2. PCR tests
All travellers must take a diagnostic test 72 hours prior to international travel and receive a negative result for COVID-19 to present with the Electronic Affidavit.
All travellers must carry out a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the country and another on the seventh day of entry as a condition of completion of mandatory isolation. Those who test positive must then take a PCR test.
Additionally, those who have a positive result and their 'close contacts' must comply with mandatory isolation in the places provided by the national authorities at their own expense, until a safe transfer to their place of residence is carried out, if applicable.
Those who test negative upon arrival, must comply with mandatory isolation for seven days at the address reported for this purpose in their electronic affidavit.
mandatory isolation will only be completed with a second negative test carried out seven days after landing.
The cost of PCR test upon arrival and PCR test for genomic sequencing must be borne by the person entering the country.
4. Other and local conditions
Other requirements relate to special traveller insurance for non-resident foreign nationals, the use of the CUIDAR app for Argentinian nationals or residents or for 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 adapt the requirements to the evolving epidemiological situation.
COVID-19 update on consular procedure and immigration
The suspension of consular visa applications remains in force until further notice. Argentine Consulates abroad are only authorised to issue transitory or temporary visas with a special authorisation from the Immigration Office.
The National Directorate of Migrations has arranged to extend the validity of provisional, transitory, and temporary residence permits that expired between 17 March 2020 and 22 March 2021 for an additional 30 days.
Amended requirements regarding COVID-19-related entry to Austria
The new Entry Regulation, which became effective on 1 April 2021 and is (currently) applicable until 31 May 2021 introduced substantive amendments for commuters (who enter Austria for occupational or family purposes or for school or academic activities) regarding the entry to Austria during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Covid tests of commuters are considered 'valid' for seven days from the date of the test collection, if the entry is from an EU/EEA state or from Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or the Vatican and if this state is not listed in Appendix B (countries with a high COVID-19 risk). The person entering Austria must be able to credibly prove that s/he has not stayed in a state or territory listed in Annex B or in any other state or territory as defined in s5 of the Regulation (i.e. all states other than EU/EEA states, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican and San Marino) within the ten days prior to entry.
- If the entry is from a state or territory listed in Annex B or from another state or territory in s5 of the Regulation, COVID-19 tests are only considered 'valid' if taken not more than 72 hours prior to entry.
- The electronic registration ('Pre-Travel Clearance') must be carried out every 28 days for commuters (if personal data changes, a new registration must already be carried out during this period).
New list of privileged immigration professions for 2021
In general, third-country nationals who intend to work and live in Austria for a period exceeding six months must achieve a certain minimum number of 'points' in a special Federal system awarding points according to special qualifications and skills, work experience, language skills and age.
However, for certain occupational groups, the generally required minimum number of points is reduced to simplify immigration of well-qualified key workers to Austria since the relevant long-term labour requirements are not covered by the available workforce in Austria. A list of privileged occupational groups is issued every year by the competent Federal Ministry. 45 occupations are now listed for 2021, including the following occupational groups:
- heavy current engineering, mechanical engineering, light current engineering, communications engineering;
- technical chemistry, data processing;
- emergency vehicle mechanics;
- medical doctors and certified health care and nursing staff, etc.
In addition, there are federal state-specific occupation lists for seven federal states in Austria, considering regional specifics.
Implementation of the Posted Workers Directive in the construction industry
The Austrian legislator has implemented the Posting of Workers Directive (2018/957), however, only for the construction industry. This became effective from 1 April 2021.
'Non-genuine' postings, i.e. the employment of workers with their usual place of work in Austria, if the employment is exercised for an employer with its registered office outside Austria (this definition is not set out in the Posted Workers Directive, therefore 'non-genuine'), and fictitious postings will be covered by all areas of the Austrian Construction Workers' Leave and Severance Pay Act (Bauarbeiter-Urlaubs- und Abfertigungsgesetz).
This means employers domiciled outside of Austria have to pay surcharges for public holidays in winter (due to the frequent interruption of employment, construction workers often do not enjoy winter public holidays, e.g. 25 and 26 December, therefore employers must pay a surcharge), for the calculation of the bridging allowance as well as for severance pay.
Furthermore, more favourable CBA regulations will apply to long-term postings. If the posting or supply of workforce exceeds 12 months, the labour law standards laid down in the CBA will apply in full to these employment relationships, where they are more favourable than the corresponding standards in the posting country. The CBA to be applied is the one that applies to comparable employees of comparable employers at the posted employees place of work. If the employer submits a notification in German or English containing a statement of reasons (specific requirements for this are not provided for in the Directive; we assume that it would be reasonable to argue that the service could not be performed within 12 months and why), the period after which the more favourable CBA provisions apply will be increased to 18 months.
Furthermore, new provisions have also been introduced into the Austrian Construction Workers' Bad Weather Compensation Act for postings or assignments lasting more than 12 months (or 18 months if a justification is provided). If an employee is posted or transferred to Austria on a long-term basis, s/he will be entitled to at least 60% of regular wages in the event of a work interruption due to bad weather which would otherwise lead to a loss of wages.
Business immigration: new rules in the Flemish Region from 1 March 2021
The most important changes for the employment of non-EEA/Swiss nationals in the Flemish Region are set out below.
Modification to conditions for legal residence
Third-country nationals can only file an application for a single permit in Belgium when already in Belgium on a legal short stay or a long stay as a student or researcher. Other categories of third-country nationals in long stay (such as sponsors for family reunification) are no longer able to file an application for a single permit in Belgium and must file their application in the country where they are legally residing.
Work permit for a period of maximum 90 days within a period of 180 days
Before, third-country nationals could only apply for a work permit (rather than a single permit for more than 90 days) for a continuous employment period in Belgium of up to 90 days. As of 1 March 2021, a continuous period of 90 days is no longer necessary. Employment requiring more than one visit amounting to a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days also qualifies. This amendment allows third-country nationals to travel to and from the Schengen area several times for work purposes.
Information obligation on termination of employment contract and change to conditions
Before, the employer had to apply for a new work authorisation in the event of a significant change in working conditions that has consequences for work authorisation validity. From 1 March 2021, during the period of validity of the fixed-term work authorisation, the employer must inform the authorities of any significant change in working conditions that could have consequences for the validity of the authorisation. The authorities will then assess within 15 days whether a new work authorisation is required.
From 1 March 2021, an application for renewal is no longer accepted automatically, but will be assessed against the applicable criteria for work authorisation.
There is an exception to this rule for employees who have obtained a work authorisation based on a shortage profession or individual labour market research. For these employees an assessment against the list with shortage professions or labour market research is no longer necessary when applying for work permit or single permit renewal.
Clarification of Flemish 'user' condition for secondments
A work authorisation may only be issued when the employer, or for secondments, the 'user', has a registered office or an establishment unit in the Flemish Region. By way of exception, an authorisation may still be issued when the employee is subject to Belgian social security.
Update of the Vander Elst exemption
Following an update of the Vander Elst exemption, European temporary agency offices may temporarily second foreign temporary agency workers to the Flemish region without work authorisation if a number of conditions are met (provided of course that Flemish legislation on temporary agency work is complied with).
Through this amendment, the Flemish Government has adapted to EU case law on free provision of services and the use of temporary agency workers within Europe.
Update to refusal grounds
The current refusal grounds are now split into mandatory and optional grounds.
From 1 March 2021:
- It is also be possible to apply for a work authorisation for a shortage profession from Belgium and not only when the employee is still abroad.
- The exemption or work authorisation to attend training at a Belgian office of a multinational group is extended to delivering
Business immigration: new list of shortage professions in Flanders
The new list with shortage professions for granting a work authorisation to third-country nationals employed in the Flemish Region is available.
This list, which is updated every two years, is based on (middle-skilled) profiles for which there is a shortage of employees at the time. The new list, which applies from 1 April 2021, includes the existing shortage professions and adds four:
- electrical and electronic products assembler;
- CNC machine tool setter/operator; and
- baker and/or pastry chef.
If a Belgian employer relies on a third-country national to occupy a role in Flanders included in the Flanders shortage professions list, the employer will not have to prove that there is a structural shortage of suitable workers on the labour market when applying for a work permit or single permit.
This list only concerns employment in the Flemish Region. The Walloon Region has similar rules with its own list of shortage professions for which a work permit or single permit can be granted without labour market test. There is no such list or rules for the Brussels Region.
Business immigration: new electronic platform for single permit applications
Employers wishing to employ foreign employees in Belgium will be able to submit their single permit application via the electronic one-stop shop Working in Belgium.
Large-scale testing of the new electronic platform, which should guarantee a simpler and more fluid procedure, started on 1 April 2021. Employers will for example be able to check the status of their ongoing application via this platform
Major changes to the Foreigners in Bulgaria Act
An ex-officio check by the State Agency for National Security has been introduced to verify the accommodation address indicated in an application, if reasonable doubt exists the foreign national will indeed reside there.
Application sets are forwarded by the Migration Office to the Employment Agency for a compliance review relating to the foreign national's labor market access. The Employment Agency must process the application set within 15 days of its receipt and can request additional documents through the Migration Office.
New rules set out the Migration Office's duty to alert applicants of defective applications and the need to provide additional document electronically.
Once the application is granted, the employer is notified and the foreign national must submit their type D visa application before the Bulgarian consular office within 20 days from the notice date.
The foreign national should submit a copy of their visa and an insurance covering the entire residence term before the Migration Office:
- within 14 days from entering the country with the type D visa for Combined work and residence permit applicants; and
- within seven days for EU Blue Card or ICT permit applicants (previously it was 14 days prior to the expiry of the visa).
The residence permit is issued within three business days and then a residence permit ID card application must be submitted.
- Employers must notify the Migration Office about any change in the declared circumstances which has occurred during the application process as well as of any employment termination within three business days (previously these applications were submitted to the Employment Agency).
New COVID-19 restrictions on entry to Chile
All passengers (including Chileans and residents) must complete an obligatory ten-day quarantine upon arrival in Chile.
Beginning on 31 March 2021, all passengers arriving in Chile (including Chilean citizens and residents) must complete the first five days of quarantine in a transit hotel. During this time, all passengers will be required to take a PCR test.
If the test is negative, passengers will be allowed to continue on to their final location (hotel or residence) to finish their required quarantine. Passengers are responsible for the cost of the five-day hotel stay.
If the test is positive, passengers will have to continue with their quarantine in a sanitary residence without any charge.
Temporary restrictions on crossing national borders due to COVID-19
On 1 April 2021, a Croatian National Civil Protection Directory decision on temporary limitations and prohibitions of crossing national borders (the 'Decision') came into force.
In essence, the current Croatian travel ban measures restrict individuals' travel based on the country/region of EU/Schengen area from which they travel. Another distinguishing factor is whether a person was just transiting through these countries and/or areas or stayed there.
The least restrictive measures are imposed on individuals crossing the Croatian border arriving from one of the countries/regions:
- listed on the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 'green list' (the 'Green List'); or
- listed in Schedule I of the Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of this restriction (the 'EU Recommendation List').
These individuals can cross the Croatian border without an obligation to present any further proof and/or test, if they do not show any signs of illness and have not been in close contact with an infected person. If they are in transit, they must prove at the border crossing point that they have not stayed in the transit areas countries/regions not included in the Green List or EU Recommendation List.
Other individuals (i.e. travelling from outside the EU/Schengen area, or from countries or regions of the EU/Schengen area not on the Green List or the EU Recommendation List) must provide one of:
- confirmation of a negative PCR test or a fast antigen test no older than 48 hours before crossing of the border; or
- confirmation of a positive PCR or a fast antigen test no older than 180, but older than 11 days before crossing of the border, confirming that the person has recovered from the virus; or
- a relevant vaccination certificate.
If this is not possible, another possibility is to perform a PCR test or fast antigen test immediately upon arrival in Croatia. In this case the person must self-isolate until a negative test result is obtained (if no test can be taken, self-isolation lasts for ten days).
As an exception, certain categories of individuals are not required to provide a negative PCR test, even if they are travelling from areas not on the Green List or the EU Recommendation List, based on the nature of their profession and/or economic reasons. They include medical workers, frontier workers, drivers of the 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, among others.
After expiry of the current Decision (15 April 2021), amendments to the travel ban rules are to be expected depending on the epidemiological situation in Croatia.
Update on COVID-19 travelling restrictions in the Czech Republic
In addition to the division of the countries of the world into four groups based on the risk of COVID-19 infection, the Ministry of Health has also introduced a fifth group of countries with extreme risk of the infection caused by new COVID-19 variants, in particular the South African and the Brazilian variants. Czech nationals, as well as foreign nationals with residence in the Czech Republic, are prohibited from travelling to these extremely risky countries (unless they are nationals of these countries or the purpose of the travel is urgent and notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance). The prohibition currently extends to more than ten countries and should last at least until the end of May.
Brexit: UK residents in Finland must change their permit type for a new right of residence by 30 September 2021.
As a result of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, UK citizens, who have registered their EU right of residence in Finland have to apply to change their previous registration based on the right of residence in the EU for a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).
UK citizens who have resided in Finland for less than five years and have registered their right of residence as EU citizens need to apply to change their right of residence as EU citizens to a right of residence under the WA.
Some UK citizens may already have a permanent EU right of residence in Finland, if they have resided in Finland for at least five years. UK citizens who have a certificate demonstrating their permanent EU right of residence should apply to change their right of residence into a right of residence under the WA agreement. The application is free of charge.
UK citizens who have resided in Finland for at least five years and have registered their right of residence as EU citizens should apply for a right of permanent residence under the WA. They can be granted a right of permanent residence under the WA, if they meet the requirements for granting the permit (in addition to having lived in Finland for an uninterrupted period of five years).
UK citizens who arrived (for the first time) in Finland after 31 December 2020, cannot apply for a right of residence under the WA. The application should be made in the same manner as individuals coming from non-EU countries.
Applications for the right of residence under the WA can be submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service from 1 October 2020 to 30 September 2021. The adopted act affects approximately 5,000 UK citizens living in Finland.
After having been granted a right of residence under the WA, UK citizens may continue their stay in Finland following the
end of the transitional period on 31 December 2020. The right of residence is granted until further notice and it is only valid in Finland.
Further information regarding UK citizens in Finland is available here.
Current restrictions on entering Finland and changes to immigration services as a result of COVID-19
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions in place for entering Finland. These restrictions change frequently; up-to-date information is available here.
Information regarding the effects of coronavirus on the services and operations of the Finnish Immigration Service is available here.
Effect of A1 certificates
In a judgment rendered on 2 March 2021, the French Cour de Cassation held that the existence of an E101 or A1 certificate alone does not constitute an obstacle to the criminal liability of undeclared work (travail dissimulé) for having failed to file a pre-hiring declaration (declaration préalable à l'embauche), because the purpose of this declaration is not solely to enroll a new employee in the French social security system, but also to combat 'under the table' jobs and tax fraud and to request pre-hiring medical visits for employees.
More generally, the existence of an E101 or A1 certificate is not an obstacle to criminal liability for undeclared work, related to undeclared employees or undeclared activity, where the mandatory declaration that was not made is not solely related to a social security organism, salary, or social security contributions. For example, failure of a company to register with the registry of trade and companies (undeclared activity) or failure to provide employees with payslips (undeclared employees) could trigger criminal liability for undeclared work.
The scope of this judgment is arguably limited by fact that the company concerned was a Slovenian temporary employment agency found to be established and thus taxable in France. As a result, this judgment should not be interpreted to mean that all employers who post employees to France must submit pre-hiring declarations for those employees.
Update on COVID-19-related immigration measures
The validity of third-country nationals' definitive residence permits and certificates of submission of an application for a residence permit (blue certificates) that have expired or will expire from 1 January 2020 to 31 July 2020, from 1 August 2020 to 31 March 2021 (the validity of these permits has been automatically extended pursuant to previous provisions) and from 1 April 2021 to 30 December 2021 is automatically extended until 31 December 2021. (Ministerial Decision No. 7396/2021)
The definitive residence permits that will be issued in renewal of the above residence permits will enter into force the day following the initial expiry date of the extended residence permit.
Update on COVID-19-related travel measures
Residents from EU countries as well as from Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, UAE and the UK are allowed to travel to Greece. Permanent residents of other countries are only allowed to travel to Greece for essential reasons.
There is currently no sea connection with Turkey and Albania, with the exception of cargo ships. In general, arrivals by sea by private vessels and other professional tourist ships, regardless of flag or destination abroad, as well as the disembarkation of passengers from these boats is prohibited.
In view of the epidemiological situation in the Balkans and Turkey, all Greek external land borders are only open to 'essential travellers' apart from Promachonas BCP in Bulgaria, which is also open to travellers from the countries listed above.
'Essential travellers' at land borders are:
- Greek citizens and permanent residents.
- Transport workers and travellers for essential professional reasons can enter from BCPs Kakavia, Evzoni, Kipi (as of Monday 1 March 2021 Promahonas and Kipi daily open only 7.00-23.00 and Kakavia and Evzones daily open 7.00-19.00). As of Monday 1 March 2021, there is a daily limit of 400 entries per day for those entering from Kakavia and Evzones.
In the case of Greece-Albania borders, this also applies to Albanian citizens of Greek origin (Homogeny). Employees of international land transport services, regardless of nationality, must, after entering Greece, without undue delay, either transit or head to their destination and then self-isolate for seven days. Employees entering Greece from Kakavia and Evzones should self-isolate for 14 days. If these employees
are required to execute a new international route within the above-mentioned time period, the restriction is lifted.
There is an exception for members of international or European organisations regardless of nationality who enter to work in Greece or transit through Greece. They must prove their function with appropriate documentation. For the Greece-North Macedonia borders, there is an additional exception for EULEX staff and their family members who are allowed to enter Greece for medical reasons (BCP Evzoni).
As of November 2020, anyone travelling to Greece from foreign countries should be aware that Greece is in lockdown and they will be required to have a negative PCR test result for COVID-19, performed up to 72 hours before entry. This includes air and land arrivals to Greece. Children under ten are not subject to the obligation to a PCR test.
All travellers will still have to complete and submit their Passenger Locator Form and may be subject to random testing upon arrival to the Greek border. In the event of a positive result, they will be contacted and placed on 14-day quarantine, with expenses covered by the Greek state.
All travellers entering Greece should self-isolate for seven days at home or at their temporary residence. Travellers from the UK should be tested for new variant COVID-19 on the seventh day of self-isolation and should remain in self-isolation until their test results become available. Those entering from Kakavia and Evzones should self-isolate for 14 days.
Hong Kong no longer recognises the British National (Overseas) Passport as a valid travel document
The PRC and Hong Kong Government announced that they will no longer recognise British National (Overseas) ('BN(O)') passports as valid travel documents or proof of identity with effect from 31 January 2021. Hong Kong permanent residents will therefore need to use their Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards ('HKID') as proof of identity, and either their HKSAR passports or HKIDs for immigration clearance when entering or departing Hong Kong.
In response to this change, the Mandatory Provident Fund ('MPF') Schemes Authority (responsible for regulating, supervising and monitoring the MPF system) have confirmed that scheme members will no longer be able to rely on BN(O) passports as evidence in support of applications for early withdrawal of their accrued MPF benefits on the ground of permanent departure from Hong Kong.
Amendments to the Hungarian labour inspection rules affect posted workers and third-country nationals
From 1 March 2021, a new Government Decree regulating labour inspection has taken effect, see here for details.
One of the changes is that the authority's inspection covers working activities outside the scope of the Labour Code, which, for example, take place in the framework of working under a contract regulated by the Hungarian Civil Code.
In the event of employment of a third-country national without a work permit, the authority will impose an itemised labour fine, ranging from four times the payment made to the employee (but at least eight times the minimum wage) for a first offence, to eight times the payment made (at least fifteen times the minimum wage) for repeated offences. The fines are lower if employment continues after the expiry of the work permit, or if the employer is a natural person.
In addition, the inspection of posted workers is more comprehensive in the new Decree.
Further extension to immigration permission in Ireland until 20 September 2021
All individuals who hold valid permission to be in Ireland will be permitted to remain until 20 September 2021 even if their current permission expires before then. The automatic renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission held by the individual and subject to the same conditions which attach to that permission.
This is the seventh extension of permission granted in Ireland since the outset of the pandemic. In effect, this means that anyone who held valid permission to be in the State in March 2020 is legally permitted to remain until 20 September 2021 even if their current permission would have otherwise expired.
Automatic extension of the validity of residence permits until 30 April 2021
On 2 March 2021, the National Social Security Body (INPS) published a note clarifying what residence permits benefit from the automatic extension of validity until 30 April 2021, set out in Decree 2/2021.
The extension also covers, among others:
- the conversion of residence permits from study to employment and from seasonal work to employment;
- travel documents issued to holders of international protection;
- the validity of authorisations (nulla osta) issued for seasonal work, family reunification and for work in particular cases (such as research, blue card, intra company transfers),
Current restrictions on travel to Luxembourg
Following the European Commission recommendations on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU, a Law and related regulations provide for:
- The extension of the temporary ban on entering Luxembourg for third-country nationals, until 30 June 2021 inclusive.
- An exemption from this ban applies for citizens of San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and the Vatican/Holy See, and their family members.
- Some categories of third-country nationals are authorised to enter Luxembourg territory due to their status or the purpose of their travel.
There is a regularly updated list of third countries for which the temporary restrictions have been lifted and whose residents are exempted, from 1 July 2020, from the temporary ban on entering Luxembourg. Currently, it covers: Australia; China, Hong Kong and Macao (subject to reciprocal agreement with the EU), South Korea, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand.
From 29 January 2021 to 15 May 2021, the health measures set out below apply to travel to Luxembourg by air.
Anyone, regardless of nationality, aged six or over, wishing to travel by air to Luxembourg must present a negative COVID-19 test (paper or electronic) at the time of boarding, carried out less than 72 hours before the flight. The negative test result must be presented, if necessary accompanied by a translation, in one of the administrative languages of Luxembourg or English, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese. This applies to all departures to Luxembourg, including those from EU states or the Schengen area.
The negative test result requirement also applies to individuals residing in a third country currently exempt from the ban on entering Luxembourg, including for non-essential travel (see above).
However, from 1 April 2021, people traveling by air
from a third country to Luxembourg no longer have to undergo an additional rapid test on arrival at the Luxembourg airport.
Some exemptions apply concerning the obligation to present a negative COVID-19 test, in particular:
- Individuals employed in the transport sector and airport transit passengers.
- Individuals making a return air journey, for less than 72 hours, from Luxembourg to a Schengen or EU Member State, provided that they have not left the Schengen area or the territory of EU Member States during this period.
- Individuals who have had a recent COVID-19 infection within three months prior to travel and who have completed the isolation period imposed in the relevant country who no longer have symptoms of infection. These individuals can present a medical certificate attesting to these facts, allowing them to board a flight to Luxembourg without having to undergo a new PCR or antigen test.
Since 23 September 2020, to track the evolution of the spread of COVID-19, any passenger entering Luxembourg by air must fill in the Ministry of Health passenger tracking form within 48 hours before arrival. The data of individuals concerned is anonymised 14 days after receipt.
New Zealand and Australia announce 'Trans-Tasman Bubble'
On 6 April 2021, the New Zealand government announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on 19 April 2021.
To be eligible for travel between these two countries, travellers must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-day period, and they must not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test taken during that 14-day period.
All other travellers are still required to enter government-managed isolation and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Zealand and must secure a place in a facility prior to travel. Places are extremely limited and currently, travellers are reporting significant difficulties in securing places to align with desired travel dates.
Current COVID-19 travel restrictions in Poland
1. Entry to Poland
Generally, the external (non-EU) borders of Poland remain closed for tourists. The Polish authorities have prepared an exhaustive list of travellers who may enter Poland. Exceptions apply, such as for foreign nationals travelling in the course of professional activities and specified third-country nationals (such as Belarus and UK nationals).
Individuals crossing the Polish border must undergo a ten-day quarantine. A list of cases indicates what categories of individual may enter Poland without the obligation to undergo quarantine. This includes, for example, individuals:
- who come from Schengen countries by land or sea for professional reasons;
- who come from Schengen countries by plane and have a negative result of a RT-PCR or antigen test for COVID-19 performed within 48 hours before crossing the border counted from the moment of the test result;
- who were vaccinated against COVID-19 with vaccines authorised for use in European Union;
- who have undergone isolation or have been hospitalised due to a COVID-19 infection and are crossing the Polish border not later than six months from the end of that isolation or hospitalisation.
In the event of border control checks, documents confirming exemption from quarantine obligation must be presented (e.g. confirmation that the individual has been vaccinated).
Further restrictions on entering Romania in the pandemic
Individuals coming to Romania from states or territories with high epidemiological risk (according to the updated official list) have the following options:
- Present a certificate of the negative RT-PCR test performed no more than 72 hours before boarding or entering the national territory. In this case, they must quarantine measure at home or at a declared location for a period of ten days.
- If they do not present a negative RT-PCR test, quarantine is mandatory for 14 days, at home or at a declared location.
Entities that conduct international road or airline transport to Romania from the areas listed with high epidemiological risk must prohibit individuals from boarding if they do not have the appropriate justifying documents (e.g. if they do not present a negative PCR test performed 72 hours before boarding; or in in absence of proof of vaccination with the second dose of vaccine at least ten days prior to travel, etc.).
There are a series of exceptions from quarantine measures for certain categories of individuals travelling from risk areas and proving certain services, including:
- cross-border workers entering Romania from Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine or the Republic of Moldova, as well as Romanian citizens employed by economic operators from these countries;
- employees of Romanian economic operators who perform work outside Romania;
- representatives of foreign companies that have subsidiaries, branches, representative offices or similar in Romania.
In some regards, stricter rules are enforced for travellers from the UK.
List of states whose citizens can enter Russia while borders are still closed extended
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 January, February and March, the list was extended to include the following states:
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.
Flights to the UK suspended
On 21 December 2020, the Russian Government decided to suspend air traffic with the UK (which was opened from 1 August 2020) in order to inhibit the spread of the new COVID-19 variant. Currently, the suspension is valid until 16 April 2021 inclusive.
In addition, all travellers coming from the UK (special categories permitted to enter Russia, e.g. Highly Qualified Specialists) must undertake obligatory 14-day self-isolation.
Application procedure for entry to Russia changed
The Government has approved a Decree adopting new procedures for filing applications for foreign nationals' entry to Russia, as well as a standardised form for submitting the required data (Decree of January 26, 2021 No. 140-r).
Currently, after a company applies to the profile ministry, the ministry submits an application for the entry of a foreign national by filling a form on the public services portal (EPGU).
Foreign nationals, in turn, will be able to track whether permission to cross the border has been issued through their personal account on the portal of state services. Transport companies will also be able to check the status of these passengers using the EPGU service.
Multiple entry for Highly Qualified Foreign Specialists and their family members
On 6 February 2021, the Russian Government issued a Decree granting Highly Qualified Foreign Specialists (HQS) and their family members the right to multiple entry to Russia.
Before this and as a result of COVID-19 temporary limitations, HQS and their family members were entitled to enter Russia only once irrespective of the reason for leaving Russia with further re-entering.
Now, once included in the list of persons authorised to enter Russia, the HQSs in question are entitled to repeated entries and must only observe sanitary requirements (pre-travel negative PCR test that is a maximum of 72 hours old, 14-day self-isolation if entering Russia for work purposes). Please note that these amendments only apply to new applications for entry submitted after 9 February 2021.
Permanent residence permits and minimum salary increase for Highly Qualified Foreign Specialists: proposed changes
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development has prepared a draft federal law granting Highly Qualified Foreign Specialists (HQS) and their family members the right to obtain residence permits for an indefinite term.
Currently, these foreign nationals may only obtain a residence permit for the employment contract's validity period but no more than three years.
In addition, it is proposed to increase the minimum monthly salary required to engage a foreign employee as an HQS from RUB 167,000 to RUB 250,000.
Current requirements for entry into Serbia
To enter Serbia, foreign nationals must have negative PCR test or a negative FIA Rapid Antigen test for US citizens that is no more than 48 hours old. Domestic citizens and foreign nationals with approved residency who do not have a negative PCR test may enter Serbia with obligation to report to the COVID-19 ambulance within 24 hours and adhere to a ten-day home quarantine (which is terminated if they later report a negative PCR test). However, both categories can be excused from these obligations if they have been vaccinated in Serbia and have confirmation of full vaccination issued by the competent Serbian body.
COVID-19 restrictions upon arrival in Slovakia
Slovakia has adopted and updated the regulation on COVID-19 restrictions that apply upon arrival, effective from 22 March 2021.
Everybody entering Slovakia must register via a special form available on this website, and remain in quarantine accommodation or in home quarantine until they receive a negative PCR test result. This test may be carried out no earlier than on the eighth day after arrival in Slovakia/isolation. If the person is a citizen of EEA, Switzerland or the UK, the test result is not required and there is a possibility of remaining in isolation for 14 days. This ends on completion of the 14th day if the traveler has an asymptomatic course of isolation.
The rules are less strict for citizens of EEA, Switzerland, and the UK, performing work in Slovakia with a certificate/confirmation from the employer. These employees must register using the form described above. However, the obligation to undertake quarantine does not apply if they have a negative antigen test result that is not older than 48 hours or a negative PCR test result that is not older than 72 hours when crossing the border.
For business travel by managing directors or professional representatives, there is a possibility of applying for a special exception from these restrictions. This application must be made to the appropriate Slovak Ministry. The processing of the application may take approximately three working days.
The general rule also provides for several exceptions, such as for truck drivers, students, staff working in crisis infrastructure, etc. However, these individuals must comply with other special obligations.
Updated regulations on travel to Sweden
The Swedish government has updated its travel ban on non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside the EU. This ban is now valid until 31 May.
The entry ban previously also applied to Denmark and Norway, but from now it no longer applies to any citizen or their family members from EU/EEA countries (and Switzerland). Please be aware however that foreign nationals need to present a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter Sweden.
New Immigration rules introduce a Graduate route and other changes
On 4 March 2021 the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, HC 1248. With some exceptions, the changes are in force from 6 April 2021. Changes of interest to employers include:
- From 1 July 2021, the introduction of a new Graduate route for international students who successfully complete a bachelor or higher-level degree or eligible professional course in the UK. Doctorate level graduates will receive three years' permission, and other graduates will receive two years.
- Amending the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list to include further health and care sector occupations and modern foreign language teachers.
- Introducing a minimum hourly rate of GBP 10.10 to the requirements for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route.
- From 21 May 2021, various amendments to the Global Talent route, including enabling applicants who have received a prestigious prize such as an Academy Award or Golden Globe to qualify without the requirement to obtain an endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.