European Commission guidance for Covid-19 Schengen related travel restrictions

European Commission guidance for Covid-19 Schengen related travel restrictions

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In order to assist foreign nationals trying to navigate the travel bans for entry and exit to the Schengen zone and remain compliant during their stay, the European Commission has issued some specific guidance for individuals to follow.

What has changed?

On March 17th, 2020, the EU announced that there would be a temporary travel ban for entry of non-resident foreign nationals into the Schengen Zone for 30 days. The European Commission has provided instructions for both EU member states and foreign nationals to follow, these are outlined below:

  • Visa-exempt nationals currently in an EU member state. Individuals who will overstay their 90 days within 180-day Schengen allowance due to travel restrictions are advised to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit in their country of stay.
  • Visa nationals currently in an EU member state. Individuals who will overstay their 90 days within 180-day Schengen allowance due to travel restrictions are advised to initially apply for an extension of their current 90-day Schengen visa based on force majeure (unforeseen circumstances). If the extension is likely to expire prior to the individual’s departure, they should also apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit.
  • The European Commission is encouraging EU members to waive any penalties or sanctions on individuals due to an overstay related to Covid-19 travel restrictions and should not let this impact any future permit or visa applications.
  • Many EU countries have suspended visa services however, contrary to this the European Commission is advising that they should as a minimum continue offering visas for those individuals who are exempt from the travel bans implemented.
  • The European Commission has requested that the individual EU countries permit cross-border movement for those in key sectors such as healthcare and agriculture. This guideline contradicts some border controls implemented by certain EU member states as they have fully banned entry for non-resident foreign nationals.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the key message to all visa holders is that any travel must be considered “essential” and proof of such will be required when attempting to enter any EU country. 

Who is affected?

All foreign nationals already in the Schengen Zone whose 90-day allowance is due to expire during their stay and who are unable to leave due to travel restrictions, or those who intend to enter the Schengen zone during this time.

For further information concerning your employee’s or individual obligations relating to travel within the EU during the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at immigration@sterlinglexicon.com. 

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Leanne Cottrell
Leanne Cottrell

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