Connecticut, US

Apr 01 2020

Further Guidance on Schengen COVID-19-Related Travel Ban and Solutions for Overstay

European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom

 

The European Commission has made the following key recommendations to European Union countries concerning the Schengen travel ban issued in light of COVID-19:

  • Visa-exempt nationals who overstay their 90 days of allowable stay in a 180-day period should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Visa nationals who overstay their Schengen visa duration should be able to apply for a 90-day extension. Upon expiry of this extension, visa holders should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Authorities should remind visa holders that they must justify their purpose of travel, which typically must be deemed essential, when seeking entry.
  • EU countries are urged to waive sanctions or penalties related to overstays and to be lenient with current overstays when assessing future visa or residence applications.

The situation

The European Commission has issued key recommendations for European Union countries to adopt concerning the Schengen travel ban issued in light of COVID-19. 

A closer look

The guidance includes the following key points:

  • Visa-exempt nationals. Visa-exempt nationals who overstay their 90 days of allowable stay in a 180-day timeframe should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Visa nationals. Visa nationals should be able to primarily apply for a 90-day Schengen visa extension based on force majeure (unforeseen circumstances). Once that term is exhausted, visa holders should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit.
  • Waive sanctions. EU countries are urged to waive sanctions or penalties related to overstays and should disregard current overstays for future visa or residence applications.
  • Minimum visa service. EU countries should continue offering minimum visa service for those exempt from the travel ban. Many EU countries have already suspended all visa services.
  • Essential travel. Responsible authorities should remind visa holders that they must justify their purpose of travel (proof of essential travel is now required in most countries) when seeking entry into the European Union.

 

Impact

The recommendations addresses key concerns following the EU travel ban to limit transmission of COVID-19, and, if adopted, should help clarify the legal position of foreign nationals both in the European Union and seeking entry while the ban remains in force.

Despite available EU-level guidance, Fragomen has reported differences in implementation (both more and less restrictive) between EU countries. Travelers are advised to clearly document their purpose of travel to prevent entry and re-entry issues.

Background

  • Schengen entry ban. The EU announced on March 17, 2020 that a temporary entry ban would be put in place for 30 days (which can be extended), to limit transmission of COVID-19. Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia had already implemented a full entry ban for non-resident foreign nationals when the EU ban was announced.
  • Individual EU country border controls. Since the EU travel ban was announced, the European Commission requested EU countries to allow cross-border movement of posted and seasonal workers, especially in vital sectors (healthcare, agriculture, transport, information technology, among limited others). This guideline comes as many EU countries (Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) introduced border control measures, ranging from a full entry ban for non-resident foreign nationals; urging those with newly-approved permits to postpone travel; to limiting entry to those transiting to their country of residence or those with essential travel purposes only.
  • Worldwide entry bans and other measures. Since December 2019, numerous travel restrictions and quarantines continue to develop as global governments deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The below map depicts the current measures implemented worldwide.

                       

Looking ahead

Many EU countries have set restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of which are set to expire in late April and may be extended.

Please check Fragomen’s dedicated COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date information.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].