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.
Canada - COVID Restrictions and Entry Requirements
The Government of Canada expands restrictions to international travel by land and air, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As of February 15, 2021, travelers arriving to Canada by land, subject to very limited exceptions, are now required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travelers entering Canada by land will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine, at their own cost. Foreign nationals travelling to Canada, for a non-discretionary purpose, who do not present a valid COVID-19 molecular test result will be denied entry, subject to very limited exemptions. Canadians citizens and permanent residents who do not present a valid COVID-19 molecular test will be allowed entry, but may be subject to a fine of up to $3,000 CDN per day or face criminal prosecution.
As of February 22, 2021, all travelers arriving to Canada by air, subject to very limited exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada prior to exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period, at their own cost. Air travelers will also be required to reserve, prior to their departure for Canada, a 3-night stay at a government authorized hotel, at their own cost, while they await the results of their COVID-19 test.
Moreover, as of February 22, 2021, all travelers, whether arriving by land or air, will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border by land or boarding a flight.
EU - Posted Worker Social Security Provision in Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Accepted
The EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement ("EU-U.K. Agreement"), which sets out the relationship between the EU and U.K. post-Brexit, includes an opt-in provision regarding the treatment of social security arrangements for posted workers. EU member countries notified the EU Commission at the end of January 2021 regarding whether they would adopt the provision. The EU Commission has announced that all 27 EU members have chosen to implement the provision regarding posted workers. The provision allows the continued affiliation with a posted worker's home country social security system for a maximum 24 months. This means posting a worker from the U.K. to an EU country is possible for up to two years without social security implications from the host country. Please see the EU Commission website for more information.
EU Council - Continued Review of Travel Restrictions
The EU Council continues to review epidemiological conditions to revise the list of countries from which travel is currently restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommendations are made based on COVID-19 case numbers, economic and social considerations, and reciprocity. For the most updated list of recommendations and travel information, please see here. Please note that each EU member state will implement the recommendations individually. Due to recent surges in COVID-19 case numbers, many EU countries have implemented new quarantine and testing requirements for entry both from internal EU countries and non-EU countries.
Germany - Registration of International Travelers Prior to Arrival
The German authorities published a website for travelers to register electronically prior to arrival and to review the applicable quarantine requirements. For more information, please see here.
Ireland - Temporary Changes to Visa Requirements and Remote Work Update
The Irish Department of Justice has recently announced new temporary measures as part of the government's COVID-19 pandemic efforts. The new measures include requiring visas for passport holders from a number of countries in South America and citizens of South Africa. Additionally, the new measures indicate that the authorities will also to temporarily cease accepting new visa and preclearance applications from all relevant countries except in certain priority or emergency situations. Information regarding the new measures are available on the Department's website (here).
Additionally, as remote work continues to be an ongoing tool and requirement throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ireland has issued guidelines and strategies indicating that remote work will become a permanent fixture for Irish employers. The "Making Remote Work: National Remote Work Strategy" recently published by the Irish authorities recognizes the benefits to employers and the general public due to increased remote work opportunities. The strategy includes a plan for each quarter of 2021 to maximize the benefits and mitigate negative aspects of remote work in Ireland. See here for more information.
South Africa - New Critical Skills List Published for Comment
The Department of Home Affairs has published a draft of the long-awaited new Critical Skills List (CSL) pertaining to the Critical Skills Work Visa (CSWV) category and applications for Permanent Residence Permits (PRPs) based on Extraordinary Skills. The draft CSL is available for public comment until March 31, 2021. Once the comment period is concluded, the Department will review and issue a final CSL. It is anticipated that the final CSL will be published in April or May 2021, though there is no specific target date as of yet. The new list will become effective upon publication, meaning foreign nationals will only be able to qualify for CSWVs or PRPs based on the qualifications set out in the new CSL. Applications that are pending at the time of the publication will continue to be evaluated based on the existing CSL qualifications.
United Kingdom - Certificate of Sponsorship Allocations
U.K. companies holding a U.K. immigration license will likely have received an email from the U.K. Home Office recently informing that the window for the 2021/2022 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation is open.
This relates to the U.K. Skilled Worker/Intracompany Transfer Sponsor license, and specifically refers to the allocation of what are now known as "Undefined CoS" which may be used between April 2021 and April 2022. This covers the following:
All Skilled Worker (formerly Tier 2 General) Certificates to be used by individuals who are applying for their visa INSIDE the U.K. This could include current employees who are extending their Tier 2 (General) visa, or new hires who are already in the U.K., perhaps working with another employer.
Any employees from overseas who will require an Intra-Company Transfer visa (as well as any employee already in the U.K. in this category who needs to extend their visa).
Skilled Worker visa applicants who are outside the U.K. DO NOT come into this category. They will use a Defined CoS - these are applied for on a case by case basis and do not fall into this annual allocation.
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.