Immigration Updates – 16th of September

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    General Updates

    Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland

    Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will bar entry on their external borders for all Russian nationals with a short-stay Schengen visa. The restriction will come into effect in Estonia on 19 September 2022 and will also enter into force in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland no later than that date.

    This is not an outright entry ban and commonly agreed legitimate exceptions will remain in force for dissidents, humanitarian cases, family members, holders of residence permits, for the facilitation of freight and transportation services, diplomatic missions, Kaliningrad facilitated transit of persons.

    European Union

    Effective 12 September 2022, the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia is fully suspended.  Consequently, the general rules of the visa code now apply to Russian citizens. 

    This will result in an increase in the visa application fee from €35 to €80, the need to present additional documentary evidence, increased visa processing times and more restrictive rules for the issuance of multiple-entry visas.

    The EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 June 2007. Its purpose was to facilitate the issuance of short-stay visas (no more than 90 days per 180 days) on the basis of reciprocity.

    On 25 February 2022, the EU adopted the partial suspension of the visa facilitation agreement for diplomats, other Russian officials and business people.

    The full suspension affects all categories of travellers coming to the EU for a short stay. The Commission is expected to present additional guidelines to ensure this suspension does not negatively impact certain people travelling to the EU for essential purposes, such as journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

    The European Commission has published non-binding guidelines for member states’ consulates on the handling of visa applications submitted by Russian citizens.

    Consulates are advised to conduct a strict assessment of security risks, which could possibly lead to visa refusal as well as to the revocation of existing valid visas.

    Consulates could take up to 45 days to take a decision on visa applications (against 15 days in regular cases) so as to ensure more thorough checks on applications lodged by Russians. They can also request additional documents beyond the standard list, to ensure a high level of scrutiny, in particular in cases of possible threats to public policy, public order and international relations

    Russian applicants travelling for non-essential reasons, such as tourists, will face a longer and more thorough process for lodging applications.

    The EU will remain open to Russian visa applicants travelling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

    Ireland

    As part of ongoing measures to deliver improved customer service, Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) will begin a pilot project to trial the use of electronic signatures (eSignatures) on letters issued to certain EU Treaty Rights applicants.

    An e-signature is an electronic version of a deciding officer’s original signature. It has the same effect as an original written signature, known as a ‘wet signature’.

    From 19 September 2022 to 31 December 2022, some applicants, who submit an application on form EUTR 1, may receive a temporary permission letter or a final decision letter with an eSignature of the deciding officer. It is envisaged that these will only be issued to applicants residing in the Dublin area initially, with scope to extend that to countrywide applications in the future.

    It is important to note that these letters are valid documents.

    If an applicant does not wish to receive a temporary permission or final decision letter with an e-signature, they may contact eutreatyrights@justice.ie to request a letter with a ‘wet signature’.

    United Kingdom

    The UK Legalisation Office will now be able to receive documents digitally and will issue electronic ‘e-Apostille’ certificates.

    legalised document is needed in many international transactions including overseas working visas and managing property. Currently customers send their physical documents to the UK Legalisation Office by post or courier and receive the documents back several days later with a paper certificate, known as an Apostille, attached.

    The first UK e-Apostille was issued on 15 December 2021 as part of a pilot initiative. The option to apply for an e-Apostille will now be opened up to more customers.

    How it works

    Applicants will be able to quickly upload digital documents instead of posting them. Documents must be signed using either an Advanced Electronic Signature, or a Qualified Electronic Signature, which offer high levels of validation.

    The Apostille is issued as an attachment to a PDF, with the document/s the certificate relates to also attached. Both the overarching PDF and the Apostille attachment are digitally signed by the Legalisation Office to ensure integrity. The electronic signature(s) of the public official(s) within the customer’s document(s) are also preserved.

    Customers will still have the option of a paper Apostille, and a small number of documents (such as police record documents) will continue to require a paper-based Apostille for specific security reasons

    International acceptance

    UK e-Apostilles have been accepted by authorities in Italy, the Netherlands, Panama and the Philippines.

    Under an international agreement over 100 countries that are signed up to the Apostille Convention should equally accept e-Apostilles. Users are advised to check the requirements of the organisation or individual that has requested the Apostille before they apply.

    Overseas authorities can view an e-Apostille using a PDF reader. They can check all UK Apostilles, including the new e-Apostilles, by entering a reference online to verify an apostille.

    COVID-19 Updates

    Spain

    • On 15 September 2022, the Spanish Ministry of Interior confirmed that the COVID-19 entry restrictions for travellers arriving from third countries (non-EU/Schengen countries) are extended until 15 November 2022.
    • Travellers arriving in Spain BY AIR (except children under 12 years of age and those in international transit), from non-EU/Schengen countries, including Spaniards returning to their home, must have one of these documents:
      • DIGITAL COVID CERTIFICATE OR EU EQUIVALENT: Showing vaccination against COVID-19 OR a negative certificate of an active infection diagnostic test OR a certificate of recovery from COVID-19.
        • Travellers can check if their certificate is valid here or in the Spain Travel Health app (SpTH).
        • Upon arrival at the airport follow the signals indicating the ORANGE WAY .
      • QR SPTH: Travellers without the EU Digital COVID Certificate or EU equivalent must fill in the SPTH Health Control Form manually entering the data of their vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test certificate here or in the Spain Travel Health app (SpTH). 
        • The system will send a QR code that must be presented both prior to boarding, and upon arrival in Spain. 
        • During health control, travellers may be required to present this document certifying vaccination, diagnostic test or recovery.
        • Upon arrival at the airport follow the signals indicating the BLUE WAY.
    • Travellers arriving in Spain BY AIR OR SEA from EU/Schengen countries are no longer required to present a Digital COVID Certificate (or EU equivalent) or QR SpTH health control.
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