What travel restrictions do Argentina and Brazil face right now?
The covid-19 crisis has led to a dramatic downturn in global mobility. LACCA asked member firms of Ius Laboris, the world’s largest HR and employment law firm alliance, to provide guidance on the pandemic’s impact on travel, global mobility and immigration for businesses in Brazil and Argentina.
Partner Maria Luisa Soter of Brazil’s Veirano Advogados and associate German Capoulat of Argentina’s Funes de Rioja & Asociados break down key guidelines for their respective jurisdictions related to travel and visa requirements that are in effect.
Is Brazil under lockdown right now?
Maria Luisa Soter: Brazil has not put in place an official national lockdown but many of the country’s governors have essentially shut down their states since 30 March. Travel restrictions and temporary flight suspensions have, however, been put in place.
What are the general travel restrictions into the country at present, and what exceptions are there?
Soter: There is a prohibition on foreign nationals travelling to Brazil, by land, air or sea, with a few exceptions as follows: foreign professionals on a mission for an international organisation, as long as duly identified; foreign employees accredited to the Brazilian government; and foreign nationals whose entry is specifically authorised by the Brazilian government in the public interest.
Foreign nationals coming from Venezuela [are also exempt], regardless of the method of transportation and the place of origin. There is also an exemption for any foreign national who is an immigrant with a definite residence authorisation to reside in Brazil for a fixed or an indefinite term; who is a spouse, partner, child, parent or guardian of a Brazilian citizen; or who holds a national migration registry card.
Are there any other land, air or water-specific restrictions to be aware of?
Soter: There are some other specific exceptions for land transportation including: for the execution of cross-border humanitarian actions previously authorised by the local health authorities; and, except in the case of the border with Venezuela, traffic of border residents in twin cities with a solely land-based border, upon presentation of a border resident document or other supporting document, provided that reciprocity in the treatment of Brazilians by the neighbouring country is guaranteed.
A foreign national who is in one of the land border countries and needs to cross it to board a flight back to his or her country of residence may enter Brazil with authorisation from the federal police. In this event, an official request from the embassy or consulate of his or her country of residence will be necessary, as well as the presentation of the flight confirmation, and the foreign national must go directly to the airport.
Disembarkation from water transportation may be authorised if medical assistance is required or the foreign national needs to take a connecting flight to their country of origin.
For air transportation, passengers are permitted into international transit, as long as they do not leave the international area of the airport and the country of destination will admit their entry.
What about cargo transportation?
Soter: There are no restrictions whatsoever on cargo transportation, even if, in the case of land transportation, the driver does not meet the exception requirements.
Do employees still have to do work-related travel?
Soter: Employees can refuse to travel to a high-risk area on business. If they became infected in this context, it would be an occupational illness.
What is happening with visas right now?
Soter: Although new prior residence authorisations for visa applications can still be submitted to the General Coordination of Labor Immigration, these applications are analysed and put on hold until travel bans are suspended, and the Brazilian consulates abroad resume their regular operations.
The exception to this rule is for foreign nationals with an essential function or need – in which case, the application will be analysed and granted in the normal way, and the consulate will issue a visa.
The General Coordination of Immigration will examine visa applications that have already been submitted. However, the final decision will not be published immediately, except for an applicant with an essential function or need. In that case, the final decision will be notified to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, so that it can authorise the Brazilian consulate abroad to issue the visa.
Except for foreign nationals with an essential function or need, even individuals who have already been granted a visa but have never entered Brazil must postpone non-essential travel, as they will not be allowed entry to Brazil. The first entry under a work visa can occur within 12 months from the date of issue.
Is Argentina under lockdown right now?
German Capoulat: Argentina has been under a national lockdown since 19 March and the government recently extended the quarantine until 10 May. Travel restrictions, flights suspensions and mandatory home isolation measures have been put in place. Argentina has closed its borders to non-resident foreign nationals until midnight 10 May. Only Argentines and foreign nationals with temporary residence in Argentina are entitled to return.
Can foreigners still make visa applications for Argentina?
Capoulat: Consular visa applications for the temporary or transitory residence of nationals or residents of countries included in the covid-19 “affected areas” – China, South Korea, Iran, Japan, USA, UK, European Union states and Schengen area countries – have been suspended until further notice.
Electronic travel authorisation applications of nationals or residents of countries included in the covid-19 “affected area” have been suspended until further notice.
Travel restrictions placed on non-resident foreign nationals and the closure of the Immigration Office until 10 May mean that there will be no new applications for transitory or temporary residence in Argentina until the travel ban has been lifted.
What about residency extensions for those already in Argentina?
Capoulat: Foreign nationals with valid temporary or transitory residence in Argentina are unable to apply to extend until the mandatory isolation period has ended and the Immigration Office has reopened to the public.
The Immigration Office has extended provisional, transitory and temporary residence expiring between 17 March and 15 May and between 16 April and 15 May for 30 days.
What quarantine rules are in place for people in Argentina?
Capoulat: Home isolation is in place for all individuals in Argentina until 10 May. Anyone arriving in Argentina (nationals and residents) must home isolate for at least 14 days. Only essential workers are exempt from compliance with home isolation.
How has commercial travel been affected?
Capoulat: On 27 April, the National Civil Aviation Administration issued a decree banning ticket sales for commercial flights to, from, or within Argentina until 1 September, which is one of the harshest travels bans in place worldwide. Many other countries in Latin America, including Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, have banned all commercial flights for the time being.