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Global: UPDATE – Omicron Variant Surge Prompts Continued Changes to Travel Protocols and Requirements

As the final days of 2021 come to a close and the Omicron variant surges throughout the world, international travel continues to see rapidly changing requirements, protocols, and entry restrictions.

Since Newland Chase’s earlier update on Omicron’s effects on global travel, several new and varying trends have emerged:

  • Travel Restrictions for Southern African Countries – after many countries implemented travel restrictions against certain Southern African countries at the outset of Omicron, several countries have recently begun to remove those countries from their respective restricted lists.
  • New Travel Restrictions for Impacted Countries – as the Omicron variant swiftly spreads throughout the world, newly-impacted countries find themselves facing a variety of different restrictions. As before, these include, but are not limited to:
    • Entry bans – exemptions for urgent or emergency reasons may apply
    • Additional quarantine and testing measures
    • Addition to high-risk country lists – for example, Red List, Countries with Area of Variant Concern, etc.
    • Suspension of international flights from applicable countries
    • Pause in visa and permit processing for applicants from applicable countries
  • Vaccination Considerations – prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant, many countries were shifting their travel and entry requirements away from regional- or country-specific frameworks to vaccination status being the determining factor for restrictions/protocols. At the outset of Omicron, many countries quickly reverted to regional- and country-specific restrictions. However, recently some countries are returning once again to travel protocols being entirely based on vaccination status or a hybrid model that combines country-specific and vaccination status considerations.
  • Prolonged Automatic Visa and Permit Extensions – with a new increase in the difficulty to travel internationally, some countries have automatically extended certain visas and permits that were set to expire in the last weeks of 2021 and/or the beginning weeks of 2022. These automatic extension are welcome news and additional stability for foreign nationals living abroad or traveling internationally who may not be able to return to their home country as planned.

While the above trends remain temporary in nature, many countries have either introduced new or changed restrictions, or extended the current ones into January 2022. It is anticipated that new and extended restrictions will continue into at least early 2022 and beyond if Omicron continues to be a major concern.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information on what is required to enter the most frequented destinations in global travel safely and securely, please see CIBTvisas’ Entry Guide. This free online tool is updated daily and provides details on country-specific entry restrictions, entry and health requirements, in-country experience, transit restrictions, and re-entry requirements.

Newland Chase Insights

Interestingly, while we saw fairly uniform reactions when the Omicron variant was first detected, the recent global response has varied significantly from country to country. As such, it remains critical for travelers, their employers, and global mobility teams to keep up-to-date on regulations, restrictions, and concessions in countries applicable to their or their employees’ travel.

Newland Chase and CIBTvisas will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout the world. Be sure to utilize CIBTvisas’ Entry Guide for country-specific travel guidance, requirements, and updates. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.