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Immigration Digest

Immigration updates for the United Kingdom, Kosovo, Canada, Luxembourg, and Iceland.

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United Kingdom – Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) implementation for travellers to the UK

In an effort by countries to secure their borders, digital travel entry authorisation schemes such as the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in the United Kingdom, the United States Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), and the European Union (ETIAS) program (projected for 2024), will assess the eligibility of admission of foreign visitors who do not require a visa.

In the United Kingdom, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) expected for tourism and business travel begins for nationals of Qatar on 15 November 2023, with applications accepted on 25 October 2023.

The second launch phase is expected next year on 22 February 2024 for nationals of the remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates.  Any future launch phases will be announced by the government.

An ETA is not required in certain instances – more information here.

Kosovo – Visa-free travel within the Shengen zone

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union has recently approved Kosovo’s entry to the EU’s single visa-free travel area within the Schengen Zone – a move which has been in talks between the European Commission and Kosovo since 2012.

Canada – An additional 13 countries can apply using the digital Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) platform to visit Canada

Canada has announced that it is expanding its visa-exempt air travel list to 13 more countries for travellers who have previously held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years or hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.  Visitors must apply online for the eTA entry document to enter or transit by air through Canada.  Further details are here.

The 13 countries admitted, effective 6 June 2023 are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

Luxembourg – Replacement policy effected for printed residence and permanent residence cards

The government of Luxembourg has announced that, effective 3 August 2023, biometric residence and permanent smart cards will be mandatory, and printed cards will no longer be accepted even if they remain in-date.  Foreign nationals who are family members of an EU citizen residing in Luxembourg must replace their old version of the printed card as soon as possible with a biometric smart card to avoid any potential complications.

Iceland – Embassy operations suspended in Russia

Iceland has made the difficult decision to suspend its foreign ministry in Russia beginning 1st August 2023, due to limited bilateral relations related to social, economic, and political factors.  Russia has also been called upon to reduce its diplomatic activities at its embassy Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, until there are changes to the present conditions.

However, Iceland has stated it will prioritise establishing an embassy in Moscow upon a return to normalcy.

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