LONDON, March 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Travel to the Schengen area is likely to become difficult for those applying for a visa, according to EU's new Coronavirus response team. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also confirmed, after the Cobra meeting at Downing Street on Monday morning, that coronavirus is unfortunately likely to spread in the UK, although, for the time-being, people should go about "business as usual". CS Global Partners, a London-headquartered agency specialising in investor immigration, reports that demand for alternatives to international mobility and citizenship of safer countries is growing.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced in a press conference on Monday morning that the EU has now established the Corona response team based on three pillars: medical, mobility and economy. Meanwhile, the British government said it would publish its nation-wide action plan on Tuesday, the BBC reports.
According to EU's Schengen travel advice, third country nationals may be refused entry, as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced on Monday that the risk to public health in the European Union has increased from moderate to high. 'Third countries' refer to those outside of the EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), UK, San Marino, Monaco and Switzerland. However, the EU Commission says proportionality of border control is expected, while health checks will be reinforced at the external borders of the Schengen area.
The European Corona response team website states that, "under the Schengen Border Code, all decisions to refuse or accept entry to the territory of a Member State must be subject to an individual assessment undertaken by the competent authorities. It is the responsibility of the Member States to refuse entry on public health grounds to individual third country nationals."
Paul Singh, Director of CS Global Partners, a London-headquartered government marketing agency specialised in investor immigration, says that demand for citizenship by investment (CBI) has increased in light of the latest coronavirus developments. "We work with three Caribbean governments – Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia – promoting their CBI programmes worldwide and assist authorised agents with any enquiries their clients may have regarding obtaining economic citizenship of any of these three countries. There has been a significant increase in demand for information on how to obtain second citizenship from the Caribbean specifically, which are known for their experience, faster processing that takes between two to four months, and no residence requirement although this is compensated by tougher due diligence checks," Mr Singh states.
He says that the outbreak has led to citizens of affected jurisdictions to look for a plan B: "Our office in China in particular is reporting that one of the main reasons Chinese applicants are seeking to obtain citizenship by investment now more than ever before is to get their families to safety and security fast."
Entry into countries escalating their border control restrictions depends on where the person has travelled from and does not appear to be based on one's nationality, Mr Singh reports. "Fortunately, we have not heard of any nationality-based prejudice at border controls, but those travelling from affected areas may be denied entry in certain countries. Some of them resort to self-quarantining for 14 days in a connecting country before entering the more restrictive jurisdictions," he concludes.
As far as those applying for a short-stay Schengen visa, the EU Commission has announced that they may be unsuccessful should they be considered a threat to public health. "Member States can refuse an application for a short-stay visa as well as entry to the Schengen area to visa holders on grounds of threat to public health." This is because "not posing a threat to public health is one of the conditions for obtaining a short stay visa (Visa Code) and an entry condition under the Schengen Borders Code."
As regards passenger rights, the EU Commission says that airlines may invoke the "force majeure" clause to refuse compensation or delays: "Airlines can cancel flights two weeks before the scheduled departure and no compensation is due." This is not the case for rail, whereas for those travelling on cruise ships, "provisions on delay and compensation do not apply". The EU Commission says that travellers can expect flight suspensions within the EU, though the same non-discriminatory proportionality and transparency principles apply.
A list of the most updated official sources of information on the COVID-19, broken down per country from the EU/EEA and the UK, can be found here.