Travel restrictions due to virus outbreak
Due to the current travel restrictions that have been introduced in Sweden, the EU and other countries as a result of the Corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak, Deloitte are providing responses to the most frequently asked questions from individuals and companies with mobile personnel.
On 17th of March 2020 the Swedish government introduced travel restrictions for non-essential travel to Sweden as a response to the recommendations provided by the European Council and European Commission in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the outbreak of the Corona virus (COVID-19) and to reduce its spread across Europe. The regulation enters into force 19th of March 2020 and will be valid for the next 30 days if no decision for extension is made.
According to the regulation, all non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside of the EU/EEA is banned. The UK are still regarded as an EU country in this regard until the end of the transition period 31st of December 2020. The main rule according to the regulation is that third country nationals travelling from a country outside the EU/EEU or Switzerland will be denied entry. There are exceptions, but it will be up to the border police to determine if these are applicable in each case. Swedish citizens that are currently on vacation, on trips or residing abroad are however allowed to travel back to Sweden despite the travel ban. Third country nationals that are residing in Sweden with a legal right to be here have the same right to return to Sweden.
Many other countries such as India, the US and Iran have introduced complete or limited travel restrictions. The restrictions introduced on a global basis have resulted in a large amount of uncertainty for companies with mobile personnel. Deloitte are answering some of the most frequently asked questions below.
Questions and answers from individuals and companies with mobile personnel
I am a third country citizen and have received a first-time work- and residence permit in Sweden. Can I travel to Sweden to start my employment?
Answer: As a main rule, the travel ban restricts all foreign citizens travelling from countries outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland to enter Sweden. Exceptions are made for those third country citizens that already have residence permits and that are returning to their homes in Sweden. If you have received a first-time work- and residence permit, you will not be able to travel to Sweden from 19th of March 2020 to utilize your permit. If you have a residence permit and are currently travelling abroad, you are free to return to your home in Sweden.
For how long are the travel restrictions in force?
Answer: The regulation that has been adopted by the government enters into force 19th of March 2020 and is valid until 17th of April 2020. Hence, the travel restrictions will be in force until 17th of April 2020. However, this could be extended.
I have been granted a first-time work- and residence permit but cannot travel to Sweden to start my employment, what should I do?
Answer: The main rule is that an individual must enter Sweden within four months from the permit’s first day of validity. If a work- and residence permit has not been utilized in four months’ time, it will be withdrawn by the Migration Agency. You can however apply for a new work- and residence permit.
I am living in Sweden but my family have just been granted a permit to move to Sweden, can they travel to Sweden?
Answer: As this category of individuals are not specifically mentioned in the section with exceptions in the regulation it is at the discretion of the border police to decide whether they can enter Sweden or not on a case by case basis.
I have a Swedish work- and residence permit but am currently abroad and cannot travel back to Sweden. Will my extended stay abroad result in any issues with coming applications?
Answer: When applying for a permanent residence permit after four years in Sweden, the Migration Agency are checking if all requirements have been fulfilled during the past permit periods and will decide if you have gained a strong enough connection to Sweden. Periods spent abroad or not working could have a negative effect on your connection to Sweden. Normally, acceptable reasons for not working are sick leave or parental leave. When it comes to other forms of absence, the Migration Agency will determine the effect on a case by case basis. The fact that you cannot travel back to Sweden could be considered.
I am currently in Sweden but my right to stay here will soon expire. I was planning to travel home but my home country has also introduced travel restrictions for citizens. What should I do?
Answer: As long as you have a valid permit or visa you have the right to stay in Sweden. If your permit is about to expire, it is important that you extend your legal right to stay in Sweden before the expiry. If this is not done, your stay in Sweden will be regarded as illegal.
For tourists: You cannot stay in Sweden longer than your visa’s validity. If you cannot return to your home country, you can apply for an extension of your visit within Sweden and Schengen. If you will spend less than 90 days in total in the Schengen area, you can apply for an extension of a visa. If your total stay will be longer, you should instead apply for a residence permit for visits. As the reason for the extension you should inform the Migration Agency about the travel restrictions in your home country due to the Corona virus situation. You cannot work in Sweden on a tourist visa.
For working individuals: If your previous and coming stay in Sweden include work, you should apply for an extension of your work- and residence permit.
Can I travel within the Schengen area?
Answer: The Schengen countries have not introduced any general travel restrictions within the area for EU/EEA-citizens, and this also applies to individuals that hold a permit which grants them the right to stay within the Schengen area when it comes to necessary travel. However, many countries have introduced stricter border controls where the officers determine if the visit is in fact necessary. We recommend caution when travelling and that you check each country’s restrictions before travelling. Deloitte will monitor the developments.
I normally don’t need a residence permit card to enter Sweden, should I get this before I travel to Sweden?
Answer: We recommend that third country citizens that are visa free make sure that they have a valid residence permit card before they travel. This is used as proof that you do have a residence permit in Sweden and therefore can enter Sweden, as this is one of the exceptions from the main rule. Please note that the right to enter Sweden only applies for those who are already living in Sweden.
Should I travel directly to Sweden or can I travel with layovers?
Answer: We recommend that you travel directly to Sweden to avoid questions from the border control in other countries.
Are the travel restrictions that other countries have introduced also valid for citizens of that country?
Answer: For the EU the same rules apply, i.e. that EU/EEA-citizens and Swiss citizens have the right to travel home. When it comes to restrictions for other countries, there are no general rules, so each country’s specific restrictions need to be checked. As an example, India currently has a full travel ban in force while the US let their own citizens . The situation varies, and Deloitte are following the developments.
In a global crisis like this, priorities are centered around the wellbeing of employees and to limit the spread of the virus further. The travel restrictions that have been adopted on a global basis are a part of this work, but have substantial consequences for companies and their employees. We recommend that companies and individuals postpone non-necessary travel, that they carefully plan ahead for travel to other countries by checking restrictions and regulations and that they record all travel for future applications. We also recommend that companies go through their population of mobile personnel to make sure that permits are extended in due time before the previous permit expires. For first-time applications for work- and residence permits where there is no right to enter Sweden under the current restrictions, we recommend that companies consider the possibility of postponing the work in Sweden. For applications that are currently in process with the Migration Agency, the Migration Agency recommend that a new offer of employment with a new start date is submitted.
Deloitte are following the developments within the immigration area when it comes to mobility related questions in relation to the Corona virus (COVID-19).
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