HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 04.05.2020

May 04,2020



South Africa


  1. Tofe Ayeni et al., “Coronavirus: Can Those Stranded From Cairo to Cape Town Come Home?”, The African Report, April 28, 2020
  • The South African government has helped repatriate 600 of its nationals from around the globe, while more than 3,000 others await similar good fortune.
  • The department of international relations and co-operation has moved to reassure those South Africans who remain stranded abroad that it is working with foreign governments to ensure the citizens’ safe return home.
  • Furthermore, South Africans are permitted to return home from neighbouring countries using land borders under strict controls.




Costa Rica


  1. Alejandro Zúñiga “Foreigners in Costa Rica Can Now Legally Drive After Three-month Limit”, The Tico Times, April 29, 2020
  • Tourists with a valid foreign driver’s license can legally operate a vehicle in Costa Rica beyond the typical three-month limit, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) has announced.
  • In a press release issued Wednesday night, MOPT said the following: We extend through May 15 the grace period for drivers whose license has expired after March 20, 2020, so that during the period from March 20 to May 15, 2020, they are not fined for this cause. In addition, for those who are in Costa Rica as tourists and have entered the country after December 17, 2019, we authorize an extension until July 17, 2020 to renew, in the case that their homologation status is expired.


United States


  1. Aline Barros, “US Waiving Visa Interviews for Some Agricultural Workers”, VOA News, April 30, 2020
  • The U.S. government is allowing for an extension of visas for agricultural workers already in the country, and officials also authorized consular officers to adjudicate some H-2A visa applicants without in-person interviews.
  • A State Department spokesperson confirmed through email Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had consulted with Department of Homeland Security officials and had authorized consular officers to waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2A applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
  • “We anticipate the vast majority of otherwise qualified H-2A applicants will now be adjudicated without an interview. All applicants undergo the same security checks, regardless of whether they are interviewed or processed via interview waiver,” the spokesperson said. 


  1.  “USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests”, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, May 1, 2020
  • In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending the flexibilities it announced on March 30 to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to certain: Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14); Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers; and Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
  • This flexibility applies to the above documents if the issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive.
  • USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking action.



  1.  “USCIS Offices Preparing to Reopen on June 4”, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, April 24, 2020
  • On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • USCIS is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4.
  • Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.






  1. Seoul and China May ‘Fast-Track’ Visas for Business Travelers”, Korea JoonAng Daily, April 28, 2020
  • Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Xing Haiming said Monday that Korea and China have agreed to a "fast-track" system for businesspeople to be exempted from entry restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. 
  •  “The fundamental content has been agreed upon, and we are fine-tuning the details,” Xing said, which may be announced as early as this week.


North Korea


  1. Jang Seul Gi, “N. Korea Orders Workers in China to Stay Until End of the Year”, Daily NK, May 1, 2020
  • “North Korean workers at restaurants and factories in Liaoning and Jilin provinces had their stays extended until year’s end,” a Daily NK source in China said on Apr. 27.
  • According to multiple Daily NK sources, the decision was issued to North Korean officials responsible for overseeing the workers at North Korea’s diplomatic missions in China.
  • Importantly, the new order guarantees an extension for all workers; this means that workers who entered China with student training visas or without visas at all no longer have to fear that they may be sent back without warning.




  1. Extended Stay for Foreigners Until End July Formally Endorsed”, Bangkok Post, April 26, 2020
  • Another automatic extension for foreigners holding visas and border passes for three months has officially taken effect.
  • The three-month extension from May 1 to July 31 was printed in the Royal Gazette on Friday. The announcement was made by the Interior Ministry and was signed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.
  • The extension covers foreigners holding all types of non-immigrant visas, including visas on arrival, visa-free arrivals and border passes, according to the Royal Gazette.






  1. France Extends Validity of Visas & Residence Permits for Another Three Months”, Schengen Visa Info, April 27, 2020
  • France has decided to extend the validity of all residence permits with an expiration date between March 16 and May 15, 2020, for another three months, as the number of persons infected with COVID-19 in France and in the world continues to increase.
  • According to a notice published by the French government, the three-month validity prolongation of the permitted period of stay for non-French nationals in France during the pandemic follows another three-months extension granted on March 18.




  1. Germany Extends International Travel Warning Until June 14”, Schengen Visa Info, April 30, 2020
  • The Federal government of Germany has decided to extend the warning against international travel, at least until June 14, the German Foreign Office announces.
  • The warning, particularly for tourism purposes, has been in force since March, in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and was supposed to last until May 3, but the German Foreign Office proposed to extend it “until further notice”, at least until June 14, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.




  1. Poland Extends Internal Border Controls Until May 13”, Schengen Visa Info, May 1, 2020
  • Poland’s government has decided to extend internal border controls with Germany, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia until May 13.
  • The Interior Minister of Poland, Mariusz Kaminski signed an amendment to the regulation on internal border control in order to keep full frontier checks until May 13, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports. The frontiers will be passable only at designated places, as well as the checks at seaports and airports.
  • According to the ministry, the entry is allowed to Polish citizens, their spouses and children, permanent and temporary residents, foreign diplomats and their families.




  1.  James Rodgers, “Hit Hard by Coronavirus, Russia’s Tourism Industry Seeks Easier Visas for Visitors”, Forbes, April 25, 2020
  • The coronavirus has halted an upward trend in tourism to Russia. Now the Russian tourism industry reportedly wants the government to help it recover by making it easier for visitors to get a visa—and by offering visas valid for multiple visits, over a period of up to five years.
  • Russia has already announced proposals for easier entry for foreign tourists to come into effect in 2021.




  1. Swiss Authorities to Ease Certain Entry Restrictions From May 11”, Schengen Visa Info, April 30, 2020
  • Among the restrictions eased, the Federal Council announced that from May 11, the backlog of applications filed by non-Swiss citizens to work or rejoin family in Switzerland will be processed.
  • As per workers from third countries, who have a permit to work in Swiss but haven’t got a visa due to entry bans, they will also be eligible to enter the country. Applications for the employment of third-country nationals that were submitted before March 19 will also be processed.
  • Cross-border work permits will be processed if they are based on a contract concluded in writing before March 25.


United Kingdom


  1. Nick Kituno, “Visas for Further 3,000 Overseas Workers Extended”, HSJ, April 30, 2020
  • The Home Office today announced midwives, radiographers, social care workers and pharmacists in the NHS and independent sectors were covered by the move. Workers’ family members are also eligible. It does not include physiotherapists, who have urged ministers to expand the government scheme.
  • The announcement follows the extension of visas for 2,800 overseas NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics last month.
  • Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “The Home Office moved rapidly to extend visas for nurses, paramedics and doctors earlier in the pandemic. It is therefore good news that further steps are now being taken for other staff groups, though we echo the concern of colleagues in social care that the needs of their vital care workers continue to be ignored.”






  1.  IIhama Isabalyeva, “Rules for Issuance of Electronic Visas to Foreign Tourists Change in Azerbaijan”, Trend News Agency, May 1, 2020
  • The law on tourism was amended in Azerbaijan in relation to the issuance of electronic visas to tourists, Trend reports on May 1.
  • The current legislation states that the application for the issuance of an electronic visa is considered within three days, in the case of an application for accelerated receipt of it - within three hours, and if there is no reason to refuse, then the visa is issued and sent to the email address of the applicant. Information is also sent to the applicant’s email in case of refusal to issue a visa.
  • The proposed amendment states that the application for obtaining a single or multiple-entry electronic visa is considered within three working days, in the case of applying for expedited obtaining a single-use electronic visa - within three hours, and when applying for a single-use electronic visa at international airports in Azerbaijan - in real time.




  1. Rezaul H Laskar, “Kuwait Offers to Evacuate 45,000 Indians Who Benefited From Visa Amnesty Scheme”, Hindustan Times, May 1, 2020
  • Kuwait on Friday offered to evacuate thousands of illegal Indian workers who benefited from a general amnesty, even as people familiar with developments said the two sides were in touch to resolve the issue.
  • The Kuwaiti government has offered to send back the workers to their countries “free of cost and by its own civil airlines”, Al-Najem said. “Kuwait is looking forward to work with the Indian government to implement its massive evacuation plan to bring back the Indians who are willing to come back voluntarily to India after the complete lockdown ends on May 3…,” he added.
  • The statement was issued hours before the Indian government announced a two-week extension of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown alongside the phased easing of restrictions in some areas.




  1. Yoni Weiss, “Due to COVID-19, Israel Extends Validity of Visas”, Hamodia, April 30, 2020
  • The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA) announced that it has automatically extended the validity of visas in several categories for individuals holding visas expiring between March 12, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Most branches of the Interior Ministry are closed due to the coronavirus regulations.
  • The PIBA said that individuals in Israel holding a visa in one of the categories below do not need to renew their visas at a PIBA office if departing before June 30: B1 (Work Visa); A1 (Eligible under the Right of Return Visa); A2 (Student/Trainee/Intern visa); A3 (Religious Study and Practice Visa); A4 (Companion Visa for A2 and A3 Visa holders); A5 (Temporary Resident Visa).
  • In addition, resident visas for individuals who legally resided in Yehudah and Shomron through March 12 have been automatically extended until June 30.




  1. Pakistan Extends Visas of All Foreigners Till June 30”, SAMAA, April 30, 2020
  • Pakistan has extended visas of all foreign nationals in the country until June 30, its interior ministry said Wednesday.
  • The decision was made keeping the coronavirus situation in view, according to the statement. The ministry hoped that these foreign nationals would not have to face any difficulties.
  • Visas of foreigners that had expired since March 15 were extended three weeks ago too till April 30.


Saudi Arabia


  1. Saudi Arabia Announces Refund of Work Visas Fee”, Daijiworld, May 1, 2020
  • Various nationals who had intended to travel to Saudi Arabia on work visa but couldn't do so due to the suspension of international flights as a result of coronavirus lockdown could relax as Saudi Arabia has initiated refund of work visa fee.
  • Due to the ongoing pandemic and disruption in the flights, several work visas were cancelled. Therefore, the ministry of human resource and social development along with the ministry of foreign affairs has announced the refund. Saudi Gazette reported that the cancellation and refund of stamped visas would be considered only from the date of issuance of the royal decree on March 18.






  1. Victoria Latest State to Help Temporary Migrants Excluded From Federal Coronavirus Support”, The Guardian, April 30, 2020
  • In the absence of federal intervention, Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT, Queensland and Victoria have all announced support schemes to assist temporary visa holders, including international students, asylum seekers and working visa holders.
  • Victoria this week announced a relief payment of up to $1,100 as part of a broader emergency support package, available to tens of thousands of international students living in the state.


  1. COVID-19 Impact: Important Update on IELTS and PTE Test Dates for Australian Visa Applicants”, SBC Punjabi, May 2, 2020
  • IELTS and PTE are two of the five English language proficiency tests that are accepted in Australia for higher education and migration. Depending on the requirement of the visa, aspirants are mandated to achieve a specified score in the test to be able to lodge their application.
  • The Department of Home Affairs has said it is aware that there has been disruption to the availability of English language testing centres due to COVID-19.
  • “Where an English language test is required and a visa applicant is unable to attend due to temporary closures, further time will be provided for the visa applicant to meet this requirement” said the spokesperson of the Department of Home Affairs.




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