Coronavirus travel restrictions

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Coronavirus travel restrictions

China and various other countries have implemented restrictions on entry and exit, visa and work permit issuance, closed ports, tightened quarantine rules and taken other measures in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions may affect international business travel and assignment plans. Below are the travel restrictions for China and the US. For travel restrictions in other countries, go here


  • •Effective immediately, Shanghai will impose stricter quarantine measures on people arriving from South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Norway. People who have lived or travelled in key countries in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Shanghai at the Hongqiao and Pudong international airports will be taken to districts' temporary checking and observation sites upon arrival by district staff. Previously, private vehicle pick-up at the two airports was allowed. After arriving at temporary observation sites in each district, people will then undergo nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus, which is a new procedure. Those with negative test results will be escorted to their residences or designated sites by district officials to undergo 14-day quarantine, while people testing positive will be transferred to designated medical treatment institutions. People arriving from key countries who are quarantined at designated sites need to cover accommodation and meal fees themselves. The same expanded measures apply to those who arrive in Shanghai via other ports in China from key countries.
    •Effective immediately, all international arrivals in Beijing will be quarantined for 14 days at designated facilities. Expenses incurred will be paid by the travellers.
    •Effective immediately, people who have lived or travelled in South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany and the United States in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Shanghai must undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at designated places.
    •In Shanghai, high-level foreign talents over the age of 65 are exempted from submitting the insurance policy, commitment on insurance and commitment letter from tri-parties while applying for the work permit in Shanghai;
    •The processing times for work permit cancellation in Shanghai will be reduced from 10 working days to 3 working days;
    •In Shanghai, E-signature on employment termination letter or emails as well as WeChat messages can be accepted as evidence in support of the termination of employment relationship between the Chinese employer and foreign employee during the epidemic control period.
    •While renewing the work permit in Shanghai, the authority accepts the tax payment evidence uploaded online by the Chinese employer. The foreign employee (who made the commitment on salary/ IIT before) does not need to go to the tax authority to get a printout of their tax payment record, which was previously required by the SAFEA authority.
    •In Shanghai, the requirements on the salary/ IIT commitment will be relaxed to a reasonable extent while foreign employees (who made the above commitment earlier) renew their work permit during the epidemic control period (provisionally from February to April).
    •Foreign employees in Shanghai are allowed to submit their online application for work permit renewal before its expiry date during this epidemic control period. Previously, such a renewal application shall be submitted online 30 days before the expiry date.
    •Foreign nationals in Shanghai whose visas or residence permits have expired and who are not able to exit China during the epidemic control period, can have their visas or residence permits extended automatically for another two months (by NIA). They are allowed to apply for a work permit during the above extended period.
    •All Chinese visa applications in Singapore must be supported by supplementary information regarding the applicant’s travel history and a health declaration.
    •The China Visa Service Centre in Hong Kong is still accepting visa applications but processing is delayed. Additional health declaration and travel history are required. Applications for applicants arriving from other countries/regions will be accepted after completion of a 14-day quarantine period.
    •At present, except for the closure of the exit channel at Wuhan ports, all port visa agencies are operating as usual. Visa-free transit for foreigners is still effective, and all land, sea and air ports of China are functioning.
    •Foreign and mainland Chinese nationals can enter or exit as usual with their valid international travel documents, although many other countries have adopted entry restrictions for travellers from mainland China (see below).
    •Foreign nationals going to China to work are highly encouraged to enter with a Z (work) visa after having obtained the notification letter of work permit, rather than trying to obtain the notification letter of work permit while in China on a business (M) or tourist (L) visa. Those who fail to enter China within the validity of their Z visa due to COVID-19 are allowed to enter China with another type of visa. The Chinese employer should provide an explanation statement in support of the use of an alternative visa.
    •Chinese immigration authorities will exempt foreign nationals whose temporary visas or residence permits expire during this period of disruption from penalties, or impose lighter penalties, depending on the circumstances. Newland Chase’s team in China is available to provide guidance and assistance with renewals and de-registration.
    •Holders of valid endorsements to Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan who are affected by the epidemic and fail to enter the above places within the validity period can re-apply for certificates of the same type and validity period for free when the outbreak is over.
    •Shanghai labour authorities have suspended the submission of physical documents for work permit applications (including initial, renewal, transfer, and cancellation). Instead, all applications will be processed online only during this period, with a commitment letter provided by the Chinese employer. The commitment letter should affirm the authenticity and validity of their online submission and original documents should be kept for further check. A similar online practice has been adopted in other regions in China, such as Beijing, Zhejiang and Guangdong.
    •Shanghai immigration authorities require applicants who have entered Shanghai directly to conduct a 7-day self-isolation, and those who have entered Shanghai via another Chinese city to undergo a 14-day self-isolation, before taking their visa interview.
    •Foreign nationals are advised not to attempt to return to or enter Shanghai from Hubei and other affected provinces. If they do so, and are successful, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
    •The Shanghai International travel Medical Center, and the equivalent authorities in other cities, have the discretionary power to permit or refuse foreign nationals to undergo a medical examination based on their entry, residence, travel and other documents.
    •In Beijing, the immigration authorities are asking all foreign nationals and Chinese citizens to hold off submitting their visa/stay/residence permit applications in person if it is not urgent. Those who require urgent assistance with applications are encouraged to make appointment reservations in advance. As mentioned above, Beijing has adopted an online submission and commitment letter process for work permit renewals and cancelations.
    •In Shenzhen, the immigration authorities have opened green channels for expedited applications for emergencies and urgent requests. The authorities have also implemented other convenient measures to facilitate visa applications for those remaining in Shenzhen during this outbreak period.

United States


  • •Effective midnight EST on Monday 16 March (04:00 GMT Tuesday 17 March), the travel ban is extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
    •The US Embassy and Consulates in India are cancelling all nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments scheduled on or after 16 March until further notice. Existing appointments will not be automatically rescheduled.
    •The US consulates in Dominican Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, France, Lebanon, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and elsewhere are also suspending or limiting routine visa services.
    •The president has announced the suspension of entry as immigrants and nonimmigrants for travellers of any nationality who have been in the Schengen area in the previous 14 days. This does not apply to the UK, Ireland or other non-Schengen states, nor to US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) or their family members, or to C (transit) or D (sea crewmember) nonimmigrants. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 pm eastern daylight time on 13 March 2020. The president called it a 30-day travel ban in his speech, but the published presidential proclamation does not specify an end date for the suspension.
    •The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary has announced that he intends to issue a supplemental Notice of Arrivals Restriction requiring US passengers who have been in the Schengen Area to travel through select airports where the US Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures.
    •US consulates in Italy are limited to emergency American Citizen Services and emergency visa services.
    •Regular visa services at US consulates in China are suspended.
    •Foreign nationals (other than immediate family of US citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have travelled in mainland China within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.
    •Those planning trips to the United States who are resident in China, have travelled to China recently or intend to travel to China before entering the US are advised to postpone their US visa interview until 14 days after their departure from China.
    •US citizens who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
    •US citizens who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring.
    •Foreign nationals (other than immediate family of US citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have travelled in Iran within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.

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