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Welcome changes to Isle of Man pandemic travel restrictions

IOM and EU flags
EU family members: time is running out
14/06/2021
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Welcome changes to Isle of Man pandemic travel restrictions

Douglas promenade fireworks

UPDATE: Two steps forward, one step back. Due to the appearance of the Omicron strain of Coronavirus, the “red list” has been re-opened, with those travelling from South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe once again subject to mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival in the UK. We hope that this will be a temporary measure only, and that relatively normal travel will resume by early 2022.

After months of uncertainty and some punishing restrictions on travel to and from the British Isles, those looking to immigrate to the Isle of Man have much to celebrate with a relaxation of Isle of Man pandemic travel restrictions and the reduction in the number of countries on England’s “red list” to zero, explains Kinley Legal’s Lindsey Wylie.

47 countries removed from the “red list” from 7 October 2021 included major points for emigration to the Isle of Man including both South Africa and the Phillipines. All remaining countries on the “red list” were removed from 1 November 2021, meaning that no fully vaccinated travellers are currently subject to mandatory hotel quarantine in England while in transit to the Isle of Man.

While we have always advised our clients not to be deterred by the Coronavirus restrictions and to start the immigration process as soon as possible, it is understandable that many people who had been planning on immigrating to the Isle of Man from a red list country put their plans on hold due to the logistical headaches involved in physically moving to the Isle of Man and the eye-watering costs and inconvenience of having to isolate in a government hotel in England for 10 days before being allowed to travel onwards to the Isle of Man.

In addition, British visa application centres in “red list” countries earlier this year “paused” all visitor visa applications, including those for the Isle of Man, even though visitors could still otherwise have legitimately have travelled to the UK and Isle of Man with a 10-day stopover in a third country. Visitor visa applications are now being processed again, leading to increased pressure on British visa application centres all over the world.

This article will focus on the travel restrictions as they apply to the rest of the world, however Kinley Legal’s Leah Sizova previously covered the position of a person arriving in the Isle of Man from a red list country in an earlier blog post.

For travellers from the so-called “rest of the world”, your isolation and testing requirements on entry to the Isle of Man will depend on whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not.

What is a fully vaccinated traveller?

This is not as simple a question as it might appear.

To be eligible to come to the Isle of Man as a fully vaccinated traveller, an adult must have completed a course of an “approved vaccine” (that is, two doses of either Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or one dose of Johnson and Johnson, or formulations of these such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda) at least 14 days before you arrive in the Isle of Man.

People who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine not yet recognised by the Isle of Man and UK as an approved vaccine, such as the Sputnik V vaccine, are treated as not being fully vaccinated for Isle of Man and UK entry purposes. From 22 November 2021, the UK has announced it will recognise the Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin vaccines, and it is likely the Isle of Man will recognise them from the same date.

The approved vaccine will also need to be administered under a recognised vaccination programme and you must have an approved proof of vaccine for travel. The current list of countries with a recognised vaccination programme accepted by the United Kingdom (and likely to be adopted by the Isle of Man in due course) can be accessed here. This list includes the latest additions like South Africa and the Philippines, but it is understood that the list of recognised vaccination programmes will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months.

Your vaccine certificate must be issued by your national or state-level public health authority, be in English, French or Spanish and include your full name, date of birth, vaccine brand and manufacturer, date of vaccination for every dose and the country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer.

I am a fully vaccinated traveller – what does this mean?

If you are fully vaccinated then you are not required to isolate or undergo testing on entry to the Isle of Man – this is the no isolation, no testing pathway. This applies to both residents and non-residents, however this does not mean that you can just arrive in the Isle of Man with your certificate in hand. Instead, you will need to complete an online application form and submit proof of your status and be given permission to enter before you arrive in the Isle of Man. If permission is granted, you also need to complete additional landing forms depending on your mode of arrival.

I am not a fully vaccinated traveller – what does this mean for me?

For new arrivals to the Isle of Man who are eligible to travel from the rest of the world but who are not fully vaccinated, you need proof of a negative COVID-19 test before you arrive at a UK port and, before transiting to the Isle of Man, you will also need to obtain an Isle of Man entry certificate. You will have to book and pay for a day 2 and day 6 COVID-19 test. You will also need to quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 7 days.

How might this affect your immigration plans?

While not perfect, this latest round of changes is a step in the right direction, and the situation is likely to improve as more countries are taken off the red list and more vaccination programmes are recognised. We would encourage those thinking about moving to the Isle of Man to start that the immigration process as soon as possible as getting the necessary immigration documents and approvals can often be a lengthy process.

While we can quickly mobilise to prepare your applications, the waiting time to process visas can be lengthy (sometimes taking several months). This is especially true at present while the various agencies responsible for processing applications, both domestically and in the applicant’s home country, struggle to process the backlog of applications as a result of lockdown restrictions.

The picture is improving and generally we are seeing less biometric visa application centres having to close as a result of local pandemic measures however, while these centres are operational we are noticing a lag in decisions filtering to applicants and increased demand for biometric appointments.

Additional pressure will be placed on the system now that Visitor visa applications, which were temporarily paused for red list countries, have now started again and this may impact on the availability for biometric appointments in your home country. Brexit will also have a renewed impact on British visa application centres in Europe, as EU and EEA citizens now often require British visas, and little has been done to increase the capacity of visa application centres to cope with the new demand.

What’s next?

If you would like to make an appointment for a call or online meeting to discuss your immigration options and for details on how to navigate the often confusing travel restrictions as they apply to you and your family, please get in touch by e-mail at immigration@kinleylegal.com or complete our simple contact form, and we would be pleased to help.