2021 - How Covid is impacting Residence Permit Applications and Travel to the EU
In 2021 there has been a spike in the number of residency permit applications from people interested in obtaining a residency in Europe.
The most sought-after destinations were those lesser impacted by Covid and those with robust healthcare systems in place.
Because of their reliable excellence in this aspect, leading European countries like Germany and Austria attracted the attention of numerous wealthy individuals looking for a new residence.
Did Covid Change the Application Process?
Residene permits for Business Owners, self-employed and persons of independent means
In Germany it is now mandatory to book an appointment at local immigration authorities and to respect the sanitary procedures. In Austria no personal meetings are possible; the Austrian immigration authorities receive documents only by mail to avoid contact with their clients.
Nevertheless, Embassies of Germany, Austria and other European countries are still open, just requiring to book appointments, which is ordinary procedure and to observe the hygiene measures. Residence permits are still being processed and immigration as a (to-be) resident to Europe is possible without any concerns.
On the other hand most countries delay the processing and issuing of work permits for non-essential workers, in order to reduce the general influx of travellers to Europe and reduce the risk of the spread of the Corona virus. Nevertheless, also from this rule exceptions possible, especially for essential workers like nurses and many other professions. Other exceptions are on a case by case decision.
Tourist Visas & Business Visas
Already in early 2020 the European Union has temporarily banned the travel of visitors to Europe. This affects mainly tourists since exceptions for essential business travels are possible and have been used by our clients.
The issuing of visas is a national matter, even though Schengen visa rules apply. The Schengen member countries have agreed on a coordinated approach to ease the travel restrictions over time. Countries use a color code to segment certain countries as - green, orange, yellow and grey - based on the local Covid situation abroad in the country of orrigin. The governments also agreed on common criteria that should apply when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions, and generally agree to a common approach for travellers from ‘red areas’.
Travel Rules, Covid Tests & Vaccine Passports
The countries of the European Union have individual rules for boarder crossings, most countries require still a Covid-19 PCR test which is not older than 72 hours before entry to the destination. Some countries require travellers to quarantine in transit countries for a certain time, before entering the final destination.
Vaccine passports are in many countries in preparation, and an implemented common EU or international approach is still outstanding. The idea behind this is to counter many attemts to enter with fake Covid tests or vaccine certifications.
The International Air Travel Association has a launched its so called Travel Pass Initiative which is applied by its member airlines. Its purpose is to inform travellers on which tests, vaccines and other measures they have to fulfill before their journey. The app based system informs about details on where travellers can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner.
The European Parliament has suggested that EU governments should not impose quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures on people holding COVID-19 vaccine certificates. The proposal was one of several agreed in a vote about the vaccine certificates. The Parliament has now finalized its negotiating position with member states and the European Commission. This brings the EU a step closer to launching a document that would open up travel within the 27-member bloc during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Corona virus pandemic didn’t change the process of obtaining a residency permit in the European Union, but travel for tourists is still hemmed. A ray of hope for tourists is on the horizon, since one should also consider that it is in the economic interest of the EU and its many tourism dependent countries to support the tourism industry by opening up before the summer arrives; but this still in a away which allows to combat the ongoing pandemic.
Therefore, we expect a clearer and easier way to travel to Europe very soon. Fingers crossed.
About Citizen Lane
As your personal partner for Citizenship and Residence Planning, at Citizen Lane we are pleased to provide you with comprehensive advice in relation to the various options to seek residency in Europe.
For more information and guidance on choosing the best program or immigration option, which suits your personal, professional and tax needs, contact us today.