21st February 2023
In our latest blog, we focus on visa requirements, particularly for the placement of third country independent contractors who must have the right work visa or work permit before taking up a role in the EU. Highly skilled contractors and the agencies that place them must always remain compliant with local and international employment and tax laws – or face potential fines or prosecution. We also update you on the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which should come into force in November 2023.
International contractor visa latest
Our first news story from SchengenVisaInfo.com concerns United Arab Emirates (UAE) residents, whose appointments have been delayed until March given the sheer demand for visas. And although the data suggests that processing times in the various embassies and consulates have come down, it means that many travellers will be unable to finalise their Eid holiday plans. As reported by the EU news portal, the six most popular destinations for UAE citizens are France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and Sweden (according to the daily English language newspaper, the Khaleej Times).
And with an estimated 20 requests for travel visas per week, appointment times have had to be pushed back by consulates unable to deal with the volume of travel visas. This has in turn increased the processing time, which currently stands at around one month. For those who are in a greater rush to travel, the advice given to them has been to consider entering via other countries in the bloc, such as The Netherlands and the Czech Republic, which have shorter waiting times. This unprecedented demand for services has created a backlog in applications and has extended wait times.
Those UAE citizens who apply for a Schengen visa, which allows for short-term entry into the EU for a period of 90 days only for tourism purposes, must complete an application form, provide a passport and photos as well as evidence of UAE residence permits (which must still have a further three months to run). Furthermore, they have to provide evidence of their flight tickets, that they have somewhere to stay, have taken out travel insurance and proof of sufficient financial funds. The same process applies to those who don’t hold a UAE passport or are not visa exempt.
EU visa requirements for global contractors
Meanwhile in a bid to clamp down on illegal human trafficking and the somewhat dubious validity of the information provided, Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under instruction from its embassy in Thailand, has since November 2022 suspended the handing out of visas for Thai berry pickers. In a statement, the Ministry of Labour and the Economy said that it had “prepared a proposal to amend the seasonal work regulation”, which would come into force before the harvest season. It would allow pickers to enter Finland if they applied for a seasonal work visa, which is valid for 90 days only.
Interestingly, figures reveal that the 4,000 or so Thai citizens in Finland made up by far the biggest number of foreign berry pickers in 2022 – a similar number are expected to arrive for the summer of 2023. The Arctic Flavours Association in Finland, the national body for non-wood forest products such as wild berries, mushrooms and herbs, has voiced its concern over the suspension of visas, which it deems damaging to the industry. The visa regulation changes do not however affect the right for Thai nationals to apply for other types of visa via the Finnish embassy in their home country.
And finally, following a number of postponements, from November 2023 travellers into the EU will have to apply for ETIAS authorisation, especially those looking to travel in November and December. ETIAS is actually a visa waiver pre-screening system, part of the EU’s visa-free programme that for example affects travellers from countries such as the UK, US, New Zealand and South Africa (63 non-EU countries are exempt from Schengen visa requirements). The application process takes about 10 minutes and costs €7 and lasts for two years. If a passport expires, ETIAS will automatically terminate.
Clearly, there’s a lot of change across the globe that will impact independent contractors and the recruitment agencies that pale them. It’s important to be aware of the many different visas and work permit requirements needed to enter the EU and, crucially, how long they take to acquire.
If you require more information or are unsure about your status or that of your contractor books, our 6CATS International specialists can answer your questions.
6CATS International is part of WorkwellTM Group
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