February’s Visa-Free Digest

A Comprehensive Analysis of Last Month’s Changes to Visa-Free Travel Across the Globe.

AfghanistanEuropean UnionTurkey
ArgentinaGuyanaUktaine
BahrainIndiaUnited Arab Emirates
BangladeshIrelandUnited Kingdom
BoliviaIsraelUnited States
BrazilKenyaUruguay
Burkina FasoMoroccoUzbekistan
CanadaOman 
ChilePakistan 
ColombiaParaguay 
CyprusPeru 
Democratic Republic of the CongoQatar 
EcuadorSaudi Arabia 
EgyptSouth Africa 
EnglandSuriname 

Europe

Named relevant countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, England, European Union, Guyana, Ireland, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Uruguay

On 1 January, following the end of the Brexit transition period, nationals of the United Kingdom no longer benefit from freedom of movement in the European Union. Nationals of the United Kingdom may instead travel to the European Union on a visa-free basis for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

On 19 January, Digital and Culture Minister for the United Kingdom, Caroline Dinenage, stated that the United Kingdom would not pursue a visa waiver for British musicians and crews to tour the European Union as it would not be compatible with the Government’s commitment to “taking back control” of the United Kingdom’s borders. The announcement follows an open letter calling for visa-free travel, signed by more than 100 artists.

On 21 January, Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, met with President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and diplomat, Josep Borrell. Borrell stated he would focus on long-term concessions requested by Turkey, including visa-free travel to the European Union.

On 28 January, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine extended the visa-free travel regime for citizens of the United Kingdom until 30 January 2022. Prior to this, visa-free travel for citizens of the United Kingdom was valid for a temporary one-year period. Citizens of the United Kingdom may travel to Ukraine visa-free for stays not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period.

Covid-19 Responses

On 18 January, England suspended all travel corridors and removed all countries and territories from its travel corridor list. All foreign nationals arriving in England are now subject to a 10-day self-isolation requirement.

On 26 January, the Government of Ireland announced a ban on visa-free travel until at least 5 March for citizens of South Africa and citizens of the following South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. The goal of the travel ban is to decrease the likelihood of new strains of Covid-19 arriving in Ireland.

Americas

Named relevant countries: Canada, Cyprus, India, Suriname, Ukraine, United States

On 5 January, a meeting was held between the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and Cyprus’ Ministers of Justice and Interior, Emily Yiolites and Nicos Nouris. The Ministers discussed the issue of visa waivers and the prospect of Cyprus joining the US Visa Waiver Programme. Cyprus is one of very few nations that has yet to be accepted into the Programme.

On 9 January, speaking at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention organised by India, President Chandrikapersal Santokhi of Suriname announced that his country is prepared to implement visa-free travel for visitors from India. He said that visa-free travel would bring prosperity to the two countries and add value to various sectors, including education and science.

On 22 January, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, and the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, held a telephone conversation in which they discussed visa liberalisation for citizens of Ukraine. Shmyhal noted his readiness to receive a group of experts in Ukraine to monitor the country’s compliance with Canada’s criteria.

Middle East

Named relevant countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

On 6 January, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates resumed diplomatic relations with Qatar, after diplomatic ties were cut in 2017 and all air, land, and sea borders were closed between the disputing countries. While some restrictions remain in place, nationals of Qatar may now benefit from visa-free access to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On 19 January, the Royal Oman Police announced via Twitter that Oman had extended the visa exemption period for nationals of 103 countries from 10 days to 14 days.

On 18 January, the Foreign Ministry of Israel announced that the United Arab Emirates suspended its visa waiver agreement with Israel until 1 July 2021 in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The suspension comes just days after the United Arab Emirates ratified the agreement, which was signed in September 2020.

Asia

Named relevant countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uzbekistan

On 5 January, during a joint meeting of traders from Afghanistan and Pakistan held under the chairmanship of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pak-Afghan traders and exporters asked for the establishment of visa-free entry for the business community. The measure, they argued, would bolster trade operations between the two countries.

On 15 January, Uzbekistan Ambassador to India with concurrent accreditation to Bangladesh, visited the Bangladesh Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Representatives of the two countries discussed, among other things, the issue of visa waivers between Bangladesh and Uzbekistan for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

Africa

Named relevant countries: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Morocco

On 28 January, the Embassy of Morocco in Burkina Faso announced that Morocco had implemented the agreement exempting visa requirements for Burkinabe citizens that was signed on 23 October 2020.

On 29 January, extensive deliberations took place between delegations from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. The two countries agreed to initiate a reciprocal visa-free agreement for citizens of the two countries.