On December 8, 2022, the Council of the European Union voted unanimously to accept Croatia’s bid for admission to the Schengen Area. The decision means that as of January 1, 2023, all internal land and sea border controls between Croatia and neighboring Schengen states will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted starting March 26, 2023. Croatia will also begin issuing Schengen visas beginning January 1, 2023, and will make full use of the Schengen Information System. Croatia’s addition to the Schengen Area is one of a series of recent developments in the country’s increasing integration with the European and international communities. These developments include Croatia’s adoption of the euro, addition to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and grant of free movement in Switzerland.

Continue Reading Schengen Area Adds Croatia to Free Movement Zone

The European Commission has announced the creation of an automated electronic visa waiver program, the European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS), to be launched in May 2023. The new visa waiver program is intended to facilitate travel across borders while better identifying security risks for the bloc. ETIAS is one of several recent updates to the European Union’s migration scheme, including the digitalization of Schengen visas.

Continue Reading EU Announces Long-Awaited Electronic Visa Waiver Program

On April 27, 2022, the European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – proposed the digitalization of the Schengen visa process. If implemented, the proposal would enable an online visa application platform and replace visa stickers in passports with a secure electronic status. Applicants may still need to visit consular posts to submit biometric data, such as fingerprints. Under the Commission’s proposal, Schengen Area member countries would have five years from the date of implementation to switch to the digitalized visa platform.

Continue Reading EU Moves Toward Digitalizing Schengen Visas

On April 22, 2022, the Irish government announced an expansion of the eligibility criteria for the country’s multiple entry short stay visas. The changes mean that foreign nationals from all visa-required countries will now be eligible to apply for a five-year, multiple entry short stay visa.  The government’s announcement is intended to ease administrative burdens and facilitate multiple short-stay trips by visa-required nationals as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading Ireland Expands Eligibility for Multiple Entry Short Stay Visas

On March 28, 2022, the Italian parliament approved a law creating a new “Digital Nomad” visa for remote workers from outside the European Union (EU). The government has thirty days to implement the law and to provide the operational details, including the required documents and application procedures. Once implemented, the new visa is expected to provide flexibility for non-EU nationals seeking to live and work in Italy without first obtaining sponsorship from an Italian employer. Italy’s adoption of a Digital Nomad visa follows the introduction of similar immigration pathways in Romania, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

Continue Reading Italy Creates New “Digital Nomad” Visa

Note:  Originally published on March 3, 2022, on Mayer Brown’s dedicated Ukraine Crisis Spotlight site.

The European Union (EU) passed a “Temporary Protection Directive” for Ukrainians and others fleeing the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The directive will provide immediate, temporary protection to these individuals. The provision is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances when the member states’ asylum systems would be overwhelmed by a mass influx of refugees.

Continue Reading EU Welcomes Ukrainians Fleeing the Conflict

Note:  Originally published on March 4, 2022.  The number of people departing Ukraine has been updated from over 1.2 million to over 2 million.

Over two million people have departed Ukraine for neighboring European countries since the Russia-Ukraine military conflict escalated on February 24, 2022, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data portal. A spokesperson for the UNHCR reported that as many as 4 million Ukrainians—nearly 10 percent of the country’s population—are expected to flee to other countries if the fighting continues.

Continue Reading Ukraine: Two Weeks Into the War with Russia, Over Two Million Displaced

Effective January 1, 2022, Switzerland will grant complete freedom of movement to Croatian nationals. The government’s announcement means that Croatians will soon be able to live and work in Switzerland subject to the same immigration and work authorization rules as other EU nationals.

Continue Reading Switzerland Announces Freedom of Movement for Croatians, Visa-Exempt Status for Australians

The official 30 June deadline to submit an initial application under the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) has now passed.  There were a flurry of last minute applications and reports of people being unable to submit their applications due to technical difficulties caused by the number of people logging onto the on-line form.  There is a significant backlog of applications and some applications have yet to arrive with the Home Office as they had to be submitted by post.  Fortunately, whilst an application is pending, an applicant continues to have the right to live and work in the UK.

Whilst the deadline for applications has come and gone, there may still be hope for some who may not have managed to submit an application in time.

Continue Reading Closure Of The EU Settlement Scheme – Not Quite The End . . . Yet