In recent days, UK and US government agencies have issued bulletins and updated guidance that will affect travelers, owners of homes outside of their country of residence, and employers and employees seeking work visas.
In the UK, despite the restrictions on travel as a result of COVID-19, over the summer there has been a surge in UK nationals buying homes in mainland Europe (Spain and France, in particular) before the Brexit Transition Period comes to an end on 31 December 2020.
Unfortunately for EU homeowners, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has now issued guidance that halves the number of days UK nationals can freely spend in Schengen area countries (EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein). More specifically:
From 1 January 2021, you will be able to travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism. This is a rolling 180-day period.
To stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel, you will need to meet the entry requirements set out by the country to which you are travelling. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. You may also need to get a visa if your visit would take you over the 90 days in 180 days limit.
In the United States, the Department of State released the October Visa Bulletin. With October being the beginning of the federal government’s new fiscal year, and with COVID-19 and associated visa and travel bans leading to a reduced usage of immigrant visa numbers, there was significant movement in the priority dates. Noteworthy among this movement were substantial jumps for Indian nationals in all employment-based categories, and in the EB-1 category for Chinese nationals.
This release of the new Visa Bulletin was quickly followed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) decision to accept adjustment of status applications (Form I-485) based on the “Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications” chart. This was a departure from recent months, when USCIS required applicants to rely on the “Final Action Dates” chart to determine when they were eligible to submit their Form I-485 and initiate the final phase in the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status.
The combination of the ability to use the “Dates for Filing” chart, as well as the significant movement in priority dates will allow many individuals and their dependent family members to file their adjustment applications in October.