International Relations Digest: May

A Comprehensive Analysis of Last Month’s Changes in International Relations and Travel Arrangements Across the Globe

  • Europe
    Named relevant jurisdictions: European Union, Russia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Americas
    Named relevant jurisdictions: United States, Cuba, El Salvador, United Kingdom
  • Middle East
    Named relevant jurisdictions: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Armenia, Kuwait
  • Asia
    Named relevant jurisdictions: Philippines, Ukraine, South Korea, Maldives, Kazakhstan
  • Africa
    Named relevant jurisdictions: Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Uganda
  • Oceania
    Named relevant jurisdictions: New Zealand


On 5 May 2022, the European Union’s Commission published a set of guidelines for the embassies and consulates of the EU member states regarding the partial suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military. Member States’ visa-issuing authorities in Russia and other world countries are guided to suspend agreements that creates visa application facilities when processing applications lodged by specific categories of persons close to the Russian regime, which include:

  • citizens who are members of Russia’s official delegations
  • members of Russia’s national and regional Governments and Parliaments
  • Russia’s Constitutional Court and Supreme Court
  • holder of Russian Federation valid diplomatic passports
  • Russian businesspeople and representatives of business organizations

On 12 May 2022, Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Donika Gervalla announced that Kosovo has officially submitted the application for membership in the Council of Europe. Citizens of Kosovo could have many benefits from the country’s membership in the Council of Europe, including having access to the Court of Human Rights and head to the institution if their rights have been violated by the state of Kosovo or any other Member State of the Council.

On 17 May 2022, the Belarusian government announced that the visa-free entry regime for Latvian and Lithuanian nationals, which was implemented on April 15, 2022 and set to end on May 15, 2022, has been extended until December 31, 2022. The visa-free regime allows these citizens to cross the Belarusian border without a visa at checkpoints on the Belarusian-Latvian and Belarusian-Lithuanian borders an unlimited number of times for temporary staying up to 90 days in a calendar year, and to visit the border zone without a pass.


On 3 May 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that immigrant workers would be permitted to use their expired work permits for an additional 18 months. The extension, outlined in a Temporary Final Rule that will go into effect on May 4, 2022, is part of a larger government effort to reduce the enormous backlog of 1.5 million work permit applications that has stymied USCIS in recent years.

On 3 May 2022, the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba processed its first immigrant visa applications in more than four years, although it said it would limit the newly renewed services to parents of US citizens, a fraction of those seeking visas to move to the United States.

On 10 May 2022, the United Kingdom announced that it had implemented a visa requirement for Salvadorans seeking to enter the country due to a spike in asylum applications from Salvadoran citizens. Over the past five years an increasing number of Salvadorans have been driven to emigrate due to gang violence and poverty in their home country.

On 26 May 2022, the United States Customs and Border Protection will increase the fee it levies on inbound international travellers from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to $US17 from $US10, according to a notice in the Federal Register. The fee does not include a $US4 administrative fee.

Middle East

On 11 May 2022, the United Kingdom Home Office announced that from 1 June 2022, citizens of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will be able to travel to the UK without a visa for up to six months, after obtaining an electronic visa waiver.

On 13 May 2022, the Armenian government announced that citizens of Kuwait will be able to travel to Armenia visa-free and stay in the country for up to 180 days during the year.


On 29 April 2022, the Philippine government introduced a concession that allows fully-vaccinated Ukrainian nationals to enter the Philippines without a visa by presenting proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to departure or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to departure from the country of origin and COVID-19 travel insurance with minimum coverage of USD 35,000. Previously, Ukrainian nationals had to obtain an entry visa to enter the Philippines.

On 4 May 2022, the South Korean Interior Minister announced that that South Korea will allow visa-free entry through Jeju and Yangyang international airports starting 1 June 2022, resuming a visa-waiver programme that has been suspended for more than two years due to the pandemic.

On 9 May 2022, the Government of Maldives and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an Agreement on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements. The agreement will allow the exemption from visa requirements for both country’s nationals, for single or multiple entry, exit or transit for both country’s nationals, for a period of 30 days.


On 3 May 2022, the governments of Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon signed an agreement which, when adopted by both governments, will allow nationals of one country on diplomatic, official and ordinary passports to travel to the other country without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. The agreement is expected to come into effect once the parliament of each country has adopted it and is expected to increase tourism and business-related travel in both countries.

On 24 May 2022, Uganda became the first East-African country to fully shift to the new electronic passport, beating fellow East African Community members who have been deferring the implementation deadline for the new secure documents. Ugandans who have not acquired the new generation passport now cannot travel out of Entebbe after the country phased out the old document reading machines.


On 1 May 2022, New Zealand re-opened its borders to visitors from visa-waiver countries for the first time in over 2 years. Visitors must be vaccinated and undertake a pre-departure test and a further test on arrival. The border reopening will help boost tourism ahead of New Zealand’s upcoming ski season. But the real test of how much the tourism industry rebounds will come in December, when the peak summer season begins in the Southern Hemisphere nation.