Travel restrictions into and within the EU and impacts on corporate immigration for the Netherlands
Anja Seling and Laura Pino from the Expat Management Group, a dynamic corporate group of recognised legal experts in the Netherlands, talk about how the spread of coronavirus has impacted Dutch corporate immigration.
As a measure to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, on March 16, 2020, the European Commission recommended the EU Member States to introduce a temporary travel ban lasting 30 days for non-essential travel from third countries into the EU.
According to the latest updates, all EU Member States*, and all Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) have implemented the travel restriction.
*Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
The travel ban has been enforced by the Netherlands since March 19, 2020.
To whom does the travel ban apply?
The ban restricts all non-essential travel from third countries into the EU. This includes tourists, business travellers, temporary family visits etc. In practice, this means that the EU Member States and the Schengen associated countries can refuse entry at their external borders to third-country nationals who are non-residents.
Which persons are exempted from the travel ban to enter the Netherlands?
- EU citizens (including UK nationals) and their family members
- Nationals of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (Schengen associated countries) and their family members
- Holders of long-stay visas, including persons with a temporary residence permit (MVV)
- Third-country nationals holding a residence card or a residence permit in accordance with Directive 2003/109/EC (EU Long-term Residence Directive)
- Third-country nationals who derive their right of residence from other European Directives or from the national law of a Member State
- Other persons with an essential function or need (e.g. border workers; persons employed in the transportation of goods (where necessary); medical personnel, persons who have compelling reasons to visit their families; diplomats, transit passengers who wish to travel via the Netherlands to another third country).
How long will the ban be applicable?
Currently, the ban is applicable until April 19, 2020 in the Netherlands, but this may be prolonged. The European Commission has invited Member States and those associated with the Schengen area to prolong the ban until May 15, 2020.
More and more internal border closures within the Schengen area
In addition to the entry ban from outside the Schengen area, more and more Schengen countries are closing their internal borders. Belgium, for example, has closed its borders with the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. Belgium only permits essential movements from critical sectors. Germany is also considering closing its borders with the Netherlands.
What does this mean in practice for foreign nationals wanting to travel to the Netherlands for work purposes?
If you were able to secure a long-stay visa (MVV), you will, in principle, be allowed to enter. However, given that most flights are being cancelled these days, the applicant is most likely not able to reach their destination.
Please take note that national authorities and customs may review the entry of residence permit card and visa holders of other Schengen countries and these travellers will need to demonstrate good / essential reasons to enter. Therefore, for any travels into the Schengen Area, travellers are advised to enter the Schengen Area directly into the country of main destination or residence.
The impacts of COVID-19 on Dutch corporate immigration
In comparison to other countries in the world where immigration authorities do not function at all at the moment, the Dutch immigration authorities (IND) and the Dutch labour authorities (UWV) are still operational and process new applications, renewals and change of status / employer applications, etc.
Consular desks of Dutch embassies and consulates are closed until at least April 28, 2020. They are, however, independently authorised to extend the mentioned periods with another 90 days if you can prove that you were unable to collect your MVV or travel to the Netherlands with your MVV in time because of the coronavirus and / or the closure of the consular desk.
In addition, the IND has limited appointments at the IND desks for what they consider as most urgent. Only if you were able to secure an MVV abroad and have reached the Netherlands, you will at this stage still be able to collect your residence permit card, if this card is necessary for registration at the town hall and / or to take out local health insurance. Providing biometrics, obtaining proof of pending application stickers and collection of residence permit cards for internationals already residing in the Netherlands is not possible at the moment.
The IND confirmed that rights associated with an issued approval for a valid residence permit are applicable also, in case the applicant is not able to collect a residence permit card or residence endorsement sticker due to the current closure of the IND desks. As a result, the applicant can start or continue the activities in the Netherlands based on the approval letter issued by the IND.
The different town halls in the Netherlands decide individually whether they remain open or closed. More and more town halls close or limit their services to “urgent cases” only.
The measures taken by the IND and other Dutch authorities last until at least April 28, 2020, but may be prolonged in view of the developments.
Expat Management Group ensures its clients that services are still provided and assists internationals with their particular queries and concerns on a daily basis.
Given the current situation, Expat Management Group advises you to refrain from non-essential travels from outside the EU but also within the EU, as chances are high that you may be refused at the border. The latest updates on travel restrictions and measures taken within the Benelux countries can be found on their LinkedIn page. You can also contact them via email or phone (0207070551) for more information.