Latest updates in
global immigration

Global immigration rules are changing by the day, as governments around the world respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and many visa centres are operating at a reduced capacity.

As certain restrictions and exemptions are still in place in most countries, travellers should be aware of the current rules in their destination country before travelling.

With this in mind, Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following key updates in global immigration this week.

USA: Latest COVID-19 travel updates

From 26 January 2021, all inbound air travellers including US citizens and lawful permanent residents must provide documentation of a negative viral COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel, or documentation of recovery from a previous COVID-19 infection, including positive test results and a letter from a health care provider or public health official clearing the passenger for travel.

President Trump has issued a presidential proclamation that lifts the regional COVID-19 public health bans in place for Brazil, the European Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom starting on 26 January. The bans affect foreign nationals who have been physically present in one of these countries within 14 days of travel to the United States.

The Biden Administration has stated that President-Elect Biden will reverse the new proclamation and retain all existing regional COVID-19 public health travel bans.

Japan: Suspension of “Business Track” and “Residence Track” schemes

Japan’s “Business Track” and “Residence Track” immigration schemes were previously designed to allow travellers to exceptionally enter Japan for short-term business activities or long-term residency respectively.

However, due to the current state of emergency regarding COVID-19, on 13 January the government decided on the suspension of both tracks with all countries and regions covered under the framework. This means that new entry of foreign nationals into Japan under these two tracks will not be permitted, and the suspension will run until the state of emergency declaration is lifted.

Furthermore, the relaxation of restrictions on movement during the period of 14-day quarantine under “Business Track” will no longer be permitted for Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with the status of residence until the state of emergency declaration is lifted.

Ireland: Preclearance scheme for non-EEA family members of UK nationals

Following the end of the Brexit transition period, Ireland has introduced a Preclearance Scheme for non-EEA family members of UK nationals. All non-EEA nationals seeking to join or accompany their UK national family member in Ireland will need to apply (depending on nationality) through a preclearance or visa scheme from outside Ireland.

The Preclearance Scheme only applies when a UK national has come to live in Ireland after 31 December 2020. If a UK national is living in Ireland on or before that date, they and their eligible non-EEA family members will be a beneficiary under the Withdrawal Agreement.

If the non-EEA family member is a visa-required national, then they will need to apply for a Join Family Entry Visa outside of Ireland. If successful, they will receive an Irish Entry Visa Endorsement in their passport.

If the non-EEA family member is non-visa required national, then they will have to apply through the Preclearance Scheme, outside of Ireland. If successful, they will receive a preclearance approval letter which must be presented to an Immigration officer at the port of entry.

SSW Global Immigration

At Smith Stone Walters, moving people across borders is our business.

Our team of immigration experts manage and support immigration moves throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. We have spent years refining our global immigration capability, with a carefully selected choice of local partners to meet every client need.

If you need advice or support in reaching your business’s global immigration goals, Smith Stone Walters would be delighted to help. Contact us today to discuss your requirements – we are immigration experts.

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