CORONAVIRUS: Travel and Immigration Disruption [UPDATED 31 January 2020]
China and various other countries have implemented entry and exit bans and other policies in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions may affect international business travel plans and foreign nationals already overseas whose immigration documents are due to expire.
Chinese immigration authorities are expected to grant a grace period to foreign nationals whose temporary visas or residence permits expire during this period of disruption. Newland Chase’s team in China is available to provide guidance and assistance with renewals and de-registration (contact details below). Immigration services for Chinese citizens in Wuhan have also been suspended, including passport processing and exit-entry permits and endorsements for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. 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. Also, exit and entry offices at all ports continue to provide services to citizens returning to China. On 23 January, the government of Wuhan in Hubei province suspended all public transport and canceled rail and air departures from the city. Hundreds of flights to and from Wuhan were canceled. The travel ban has since been extended to several other cities in Hubei province. The Beijing and Shanghai authorities have announced the suspension of exit and entry services until Sunday 2 February. Shanghai and several other provinces have announced that all non-essential enterprises will remain closed until 9 February.
The government has asked most civil servants to stay at home and most immigration services are suspended until at least Sunday 2 February. The government has also taken measures to limit travel between Hong Kong and the mainland, including the suspension of new visas to individual mainland tourists, closing six borders, halving the number of flights to and from mainland China, suspending the MTR’s intercity services, and closing West Kowloon station, which serves the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Residents of Hubei, and anyone who has visited Hubei in the last 14 days, have been banned from entry to Hong Kong.
Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who have visited Hubei in the last 14 days, as well as holders of PRC passports issued in Hubei, will be quarantined. From 2 February, all new visitors with recent travel history to mainland China will not be allowed to enter or transit Singapore, and holders of PRC passports issued in Hubei, will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore. Previously issued short-term and multiple-visit visas, as well as visa-free transit facilities, and the issuance of new visas, for all those with PRC passports, will also be suspended with immediate effect. The Ministry of Manpower will reject all new work pass applications for foreign workers from Hubei until further notice. Renewal applications for existing Work Pass workers from Hubei will not be affected.
Chinese visitors from Hubei Province are prohibited from entry. Applications from Chinese citizens from other Chinese provinces for tourism, social exchanges, professional exchanges or aesthetic medical care will be temporarily suspended. Applications for business activities, excluding contract execution and corporate internal transfer (including accompanying individuals), will be suspended. Entry of Chinese citizens who have obtained an entry permit will be postponed. Chinese citizens who have been permitted to enter Taiwan must conduct self-health management for 14 days. Entry of Chinese students studying in Taiwan will be postponed until 9 February 2020. Restrictions on residence will be imposed on a Chinese spouse returning from China (including Hubei Province) and such spouse is required to conduct self-health management for 14 days. Chinese citizens will be temporarily prohibited from visiting Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu Islands for all purposes, including social exchanges, cultural and artistic exchanges, enrolment and tourism.
Macao has suspended entry for non-residents from Hubei province and those who have visited Hubei in the last 14 days, unless proof of non-infection is provided. Travellers from Hubei already in China can stay but must enter quarantine. Japan will deny entry to travellers confirmed to be infected with coronavirus from Saturday 1 February, and any foreign nationals who have visited Hubei in the last 14 days. Malaysia has put on hold the issuance of all types of entry visa, work permit and dependent permit from passports issued in Wuhan City. Vietnam has temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to China, Hongkong and Macau passport holders. South Korea will not impose any penalty fee on foreign national visitors and residents who are coronavirus patients for exceeding the period of stay until they are recovered and officially confirmed by the medical institutions. Kazakhstan has closed all transport links with China and suspended all visa on arrivals from China. Philippines and Sri Lanka have suspended all visa on arrivals from China. Russia has closed its borders with China to all traffic, and has also suspended the issuance of electronic visas to Chinese nationals. Mongolia and Nepal have also closed their borders with China.