Latest updates in global

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.

Montserrat: Remote Workers Stamp Programme launched

Over the last year, many countries across the world have had to reconsider their approaches to a rapidly changing working culture as a direct result of COVID-19.

Towards the middle of 2020, some countries started considering the concept of remote work visas, interchangeably known and as digital nomad visas. The idea was to introduce a visa that would allow employees to work remotely from another country, whilst promoting a healthy work/life balance.

As of February 2021, Montserrat becomes the latest country to launch a digital nomad visa scheme, following their neighbours in Barbados. The Remote Workers Stamp programme allows eligible individuals to apply for a 12-month valid stay in Montserrat.

A distinguishing feature of this digital nomad visa is that in comparison to others, the Montserrat visa scheme is more flexible in regards to entry conditions and compliance requirements.

To be eligible to apply under the programme, candidates must be able to prove:

  • They are in full-time employment
  • They have an annual income of at least $70,000
  • They have health insurance coverage

Remote Workers Stamps cost $500 for individuals, $750 for families of up to three and $250 for every additional family member thereafter. The average processing time is seven working days, but in some cases this may take longer.

Kazakhstan: Current e-visa system to be refined

In 2020 the government of Kazakhstan expanded their list of visa-free countries to a total of 74, as well as introducing e-visas for citizens of over 100 states. From the beginning of 2021, the government have made a pledge to consider an additional 16 countries to the original 74 granted back in 2020.

In an attempt accommodate the growing number of visitors into Kazakhstan, the government will be making improvements to their current on boarding e-visa system. The government has announced that they are working on simplifying the arrival process, and are aiming to facilitate an efficient system that supports immigration demands.

Officially launched in 2019, the e-visa system allows visitors to apply online and upload information such as full legal name, purpose of trip and date of birth. Currently, citizens residing in 140 countries worldwide qualify for the e-visa programme in Kazakhstan, including, Iran, India and China.

Once an application is submitted, approval generally takes up to five working days. However, as part of the government drive to improve the system, a piloted system has been created to explore the possibility of automatically registering foreign visitors as part of the check-in procedure.

Spain: Travel ban for non-EU nationals extended

Further travel restrictions for non- EU nationals have been announced by the Spanish government this month, informing the public that the travel ban will be now be extended until 31 March 2021.

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants, the authorities have decided to close EU borders to all travellers outside of the Schengen zone, and travellers will only be considered for entry if they can demonstrate that their trip to Spain is absolutely necessary.

However, there are a few countries outside of the EU that will permitted to enter Spain as a result of their low number of COVID-19 cases. The list is currently limited to the following countries:

  • Hong Kong
  • Macao,
  • China
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • South Korea
  • Rwanda
  • New Zealand

For the latest advice on travelling to Europe, please contact SSW.

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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