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Summer 2020 Travel Advisory, U.S. Embassy/Consular Services, and COVID-19 Restrictions

As summer approaches and countries begin to re-open, some companies and individuals are thinking about resuming international travel. If international travel is required for your work or other reasons, be prepared for strict restrictions and potential last-minute cancellations. This GT Alert provides considerations with respect to international travel amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

  1. U.S. Embassies and Consulates Continue to Offer Limited Services Worldwide

In March 2020 U.S. embassies and consulates suspended routine visa services until further notice. However, during the last few weeks, several jurisdictions have re-opened visa appointment calendars for the summer months. Although there is no official guidance from the Department of State, visa applicants should schedule their visa appointments as soon as calendars are opened to get in queue, as there may be long processing and wait times due to case backlog. However, these visa appointments may be rescheduled by the embassy with little or no warning, as the COVID-19 situation remains fluid. In most cases, a visa appointment will be re-scheduled at no additional cost, with DS-160 forms remaining valid for one year. Specific U.S. embassies/consulates are implementing the following:

  • France: The U.S. Embassy in Paris opened its calendar in May, and non-immigrant visa applicants were able to schedule visa appointments beginning in June. During the week of May 18, 2020, the embassy cancelled all June visa appointments. As of the date of this alert, the calendar is open starting in July 2020, and individuals can schedule appointments. No cancellation of July appointments has occurred to date.
  • Italy: Visa appointments remain suspended until further notice.
  • Sweden: The embassy has opened its calendar for the summer months. However, processing times may increase due to limited staffing.
  • Poland: The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and the Consulate General in Krakow is only accepting emergency, mission-critical visa services. All other appointments have been cancelled. As of June 2020, the embassy and consulate have opened appointment calendars for July 2020.
  • Turkey: The U.S. embassy and consulates continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as resources and local conditions allow. The embassy has not confirmed when routine visa services will resume.
  • Israel: The embassy continues to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as resources and local conditions allow. The embassy has not confirmed when routine visa services will resume.
  • Mexico: Visa applicants can schedule appointments beginning in July 2020. No cancellation of appointments has occurred to date. Consulates continue to accept nonimmigrant visa applications on a limited basis for emergency travel only.
  • Argentina: Visa applicants can schedule visa appointments beginning in July 2020. No cancellation of July appointments has occurred to date.
  • Brazil: Embassies and consulates have cancelled all routine visa appointments but continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as resources and local conditions allow. Visa applicants can schedule appointments beginning in July 2020. No cancellation of appointments has occurred to date.
  • Chile: The U.S. Embassy in Santiago has suspended routine consular visa services until further notice.
  • India: U.S. visa application centers located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata, and the six document delivery centers located at Jalandhar/Chandigarh/Pune/Ahmedabad/ Bangalore/ Cochin will remain closed until further notice.
  • Japan: Consular services remain suspended. Visas are only being issued in cases of emergency.
  1. Country-Specific Entry Requirements and Movement Restrictions

As the COVID-19 situation remains fluid on a global scale, all international travelers should remain flexible with their travel plans. Current travel bans and restrictions notwithstanding, most nationals are allowed to return to their home countries. In some cases, a visa applicant may not be required to appear for a visa appointment in their home country. However, if it is decided that the visa applicant will travel to a third country (not their home country) to obtain a visa, consider that such third country may be restricting foreigner entry. If allowed entry, the applicant may be required to self-quarantine for 14-30 days before being permitted to appear for a visa appointment. Also, depending on the visa applicant’s nationality, the visa applicant may be required to obtain a visa to enter the third country. Following are country-specific entry requirements and movement restrictions:

  • France: On May 7, 2020, France announced that its borders will remain closed to non-European Union countries until at least June 15, 2020. International travelers arriving in France must self-isolate for 14 days if they have no symptoms. If someone is displaying symptoms, they must self-isolate for 30 days. International travelers must carry an attestation form (see attestation form in French; see attestation form in English).
  • Italy: The Italian government issued a decree stating that from June 3, 2020, individuals arriving in Italy from the European Union, Schengen, the United Kingdom, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City State will no longer be required to self-isolate. For individuals traveling from a country not listed above, including the United States, travel to Italy will be allowed only for work related reasons, urgent health needs, or to return to a place of residence, and such individuals are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Although there is no specific guidance from the Department of State, international flights may resume in June, and U.S. embassies and consulates may re-open shortly thereafter.
  • Sweden: Inbound travel from non-EU countries will continue to be restricted until June 15, 2020. Most non-stop flights from Sweden to the United States have been suspended.
  • Poland: Poland’s border restrictions have been extended through June 12, 2020. All foreigners, except for certain exceptions, are barred from entering Poland, even for transit purposes. The suspension of international passenger air travel has been extended to at least June 6, 2020. Polish citizens and foreigners with permission to work and reside in Poland who return from abroad will be required to undergo a health inspection, are required to provide contact information, and to quarantine (police-enforced) for 14 days after returning. Individuals who violate movement restrictions can be fined up to 30,000 PLN. See Poland’s temporary limitations here.
  • Turkey: All foreigners will need an HES (Hayat Eve Sığar) code for domestic and international flights after midnight June 5, 2020. Please see the applicable airline website for more information. Foreigners who have been present in the following countries will not be permitted to enter Turkey: Algeria, Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Mainland China, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Turkish citizens/residents who were in these countries in the past 14 days are allowed to enter Turkey but must quarantine for 14-days.
  • Israel: On March 18, 2020 the Government of Israel announced that most foreigners (exceptions apply), who are not Israeli citizens or permanent residents, will not be allowed to enter Israel. All arriving passengers, including U.S. citizens, may be subject to a health screening and/or a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-established quarantine center. Individuals who have the ability to maintain proper home isolation (such as a completely separate housing unit with no other occupants) may be allowed to undergo the 14-day required self-isolation at their residence.
    • West Bank (Israel-controlled): Most checkpoints between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and surrounding suburbs in the West Bank remain closed. All travelers passing through any open checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank may undergo increased scrutiny and significant delays. Further checkpoint information is available here.
    • West Bank (Palestinian Authority): The Palestinian Authority has extended the state of emergency until July 4, 2020. Movement between Israel-controlled areas and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas is restricted. As of March 6, 2020, the Palestinian Authority has restricted all foreigners from entering areas of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control. All checkpoints between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and its surrounding suburbs in the West Bank remain closed. Further checkpoint information is available here.
    • Gaza: The Government of Israel has stated that travel in and out of Gaza through the Erez crossing is restricted to urgent humanitarian cases. Those coming into Gaza will be required to quarantine for 21 days.
  • Mexico: The U.S. and Mexican governments have extended land border travel restrictions until June 22, 2020. Individuals arriving via air are subject to health screenings. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms are subject to additional health screening and quarantine.
  • Argentina: The Government of Argentina has announced that the national quarantine that began on March 20, 2020 has been extended through June 7, 2020, with heightened restrictions in the greater Buenos Aires area. The Argentine government has imposed strict movement restrictions, which are region-specific. Per the latest Argentine government policy, any foreigner who is not a resident of Argentina will not be permitted to enter Argentina. The U.S. Embassy has stated it is not aware of an estimated end date for this travel ban. Multiple countries in the region are implementing travel restrictions with little advance notice.
  • Brazil: Brazil has imposed a ban on foreigners entering the country by air through June 21, 2020.
  • Chile: Chile’s borders have been closed to foreigners since March 18, 2020. Chilean citizens and permanent residents are exempted and may still enter Chile at this time. On June 3, the Chilean government extended quarantine periods for most regions through June 12, 2020. All foreigners and Chileans entering Chile are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Chile has declared nationwide curfew requirements from 10:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m.
  • India: India has imposed strict travel restrictions on foreigners. Depending on the country from which passengers arrive, there may be a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period. Anyone arriving by air is also subject to health screening and testing.
  • Japan: On May 25, 2020, the state of emergency was lifted for all of Japan. However, Japan’s international borders remain essentially closed to foreigners.
  1. President Trump’s Executive Orders

On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order entitled Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. This executive order only affects the issuance of immigrant visas (green cards) at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad until June 22, 2020. However, the executive order specifically mandates the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State to review non-immigrant visa programs and recommend other measures that will protect the hiring and employment of U.S. workers. A new executive order that could further restrict the issuance of non-immigrant visas at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide may be issued in the coming weeks.

  1. Bottom Line

Travel restrictions, embassy/consulate closures, and health restrictions are being implemented and updated by governments on a regular basis. If international travel is required, plan early and confirm required documentation and information for each country before departure. Also, remain flexible and be prepared for delays. View country-specific information here.

For more information and updates on the developing COVID-19 situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019.