Back in mid-March, when the European Union Commission recommended to the Member States to impose an EU-wide entry ban on non-essential entry for third-country nationals, nobody foresaw this travel ban would remain effective even four months after.
With the end of it nowhere near in sight, many people have found the ban to be messing with their lives, making them more difficult, including work and studies.
Yet, the ones that have found it the hardest to wait for the ban to end are binational lovers that have not seen each other for months.
Couples, one of which is an EU national, have been separated since March at least. With the EU’s facilitation of entry rules that enables families to reunite, lovers hoped they would be able to do the same, but such a thing has not yet happened.
For weeks now, couples have been campaigning on Twitter under the hashtags #LoveIsEssential and #LoveIsNotTourism, calling on the EU bodies and the governments of each Member State to make an exception for them.
The campaign, backed by the support of several MEPs and commissioners has worked, and so far, several countries have reopened their borders, as follows:
Despite that there has been no separate statement issued by Austrian authorities on the exemption of couples from the entry ban, the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs has taken care to add the “visit to the life partner” as a reason worthy of consideration to enter Austria.
“In particular, all people with reasons worthy of consideration may enter the family in individual cases. The reasons must be proven upon entry. The special family reasons include, for example, visits by family members in the event of illness or their own children within the framework of custody duties, a visit to the life partner,” the website reads.
On July 19 the Czech Republic decided to change the rules of entry for unmarried partners of Czech national who have been separated by the EU-wide entry ban, following the example of other EU countries that have taken the same step.
“From Monday, July 20, 2020, it will be possible for third-country nationals, especially visa-free ones, to come to the Czech Republic to visit their partners, provided that several conditions are met. Czech diplomacy was inspired by the system applied by Denmark and Austria for unmarried couples,” reads a press release of the Ministry.
In order for these couples to be able to reunite, they must submit a solemn declaration of their long-term relationship at firstname.lastname@example.org. They should also send proof of their relationship with, i.e. a joint lease agreement, a joint bank account or a birth certificate of common children, etc.
The entry requests will be processed electronically by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which may confirm the possibility of the partner entering the territory of the Czech Republic within three days. The Czech citizen will forward this confirmation to his / her partner, who will prove it upon entering the Czech Republic.
Authorities in Denmark were the first EU authorities to permit girlfriends and boyfriends of Danish residents to enter the country at the very end of June.
“This extension will include boyfriends and girlfriends, grandparents and grandchildren. However, there will be a requirement to show negative test result received at most 72 hours before entry,” a press release announcing the decision reads.
The move was taken after MP Andreas Steenberg from the Social Liberal Party, raised the issue at the parliament.
“Love knows no borders, and now the border is opened,” Steenberg had tweeted upon the decision
In a government meeting held on August 6, Finland has decided to permit lovers to reunite if one of them is:
a Finnish citizen living in Finland,
an EU/Schengen citizen living in Finland
a family member of an EU/Schengen citizen living in Finland
third-country national residing in Finland with a Finnish residence permit
“You can also come to Finland on the basis of a social relationship. In practice, a social relationship refers to a relationship. In principle, border control relies on the passenger’s own declaration of social status; in individual cases, more detailed information can be requested,” the government’s updated information on ‘Who can enter Finland’ explains.
Those who wish to travel to Finland to meet their lover, must contact the Finnish embassy in their country of residence, and require further advice on the procedures that should be taken.
France has also decided to reopen its borders for unmarried partners from third-countries who have their other half in France, though an exact date when that will happen has not been given yet.
According to France’s Secretary of State in charge of tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne a specific mechanism is being established by France, in order to permit lovers to reunite.
“France is setting up a specific system for life partners separated by the closing of borders. From this week, an application for a laissez-passer can be submitted to the consulate the closest,” the Secretary announced in a tweet.
Eligible to benefit from the decision are only third-country citizens whose partner is a legal resident of France.
Thus, those wishing to travel to France to meet their unmarried partners will have to submit the following documents:
A written request from the couple with full contact details, specifying the amount of the stay
Proof of residence in France of the spouse
Evidence having of the previous meetings in France (old plane tickets, invoices, etc.), possibly also the entry stamps in the countries visited together, etc.
Germany has permitted unmarried partners of German citizens and residents to enter the Federal territory, since August 10, on the decision of the German Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer.
According to the Ministry, at least one previous personal meeting in Germany or proof of a previous commonplace of residence abroad is mandatory for entering Germany under this purpose. The following should be submitted:
an invitation from the person residing in Germany
a jointly signed statement on the existence of the relationship
proof of previous meetings with passport stamps travel documents or plane tickets
Those coming from high-risk countries in Germany will be subject to a 14-day quarantine or the submission of a negative Covid19 test upon entry.
Since September 7, unmarried partners of Italian citizens and residents “with whom they have a stable emotional relationship, even if not cohabiting” can enter the Italian territory to join their lover, under the emergency decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the same day.
All those reaching Italy under this purpose will have to go under quarantine for a period of two weeks. Upon arrival, these travellers will also have to complete a self-certification form, which will be released in the following days.
The move of the Italian government to permit entry for unmarried partners of Italian citizens and residents from the COVID-19 entry ban follows a promise given by the Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza on July 30, that the government will work towards a solution on the issue.
On July 10, Norway announced that starting from Wednesday, July 15, those in a relationship of at least nine months and other family members from countries outside the EU/EEA will be eligible to enter the country in order to join their loved ones.
“The Government will open from July 15 for entry for foreigners from countries outside the EU/EEA, so-called third-country nationals, who have family or an established boyfriend relationship in Norway. But there are no exceptions to the quarantine duty or the normal conditions in the Immigration Act,” reads a press release of Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
Announcing the decision, the Minister of Justice Monica Mæland, said that the Coronavirus situation has particularly hit families and unmarried lovers severely, noting that those planning to travel to Norway still needed travel documents as visas.
She also emphasized that the rules on entry restrictions come in addition to the general rules on entry into the Immigration Act. This means that even if the entry restrictions are removed, the general requirements for travel documents, visas, etc. will still apply in full.
When it comes to lovers, the following conditions must be met in order for the non-EU/EEA citizen to join his/her lover in Norway: the parties will meet each other physically, and the relationship must be at least nine months long.
The person living in Norway provide the third-country citizen with a self-declaration that the latter must present upon arrival in Norway, confirming that the two requirements are met.
The Netherlands has also reopened its borders for non-EU lovers whose partner is living in the Netherlands.
The decision has been taken by the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus, who decided to relax the entry ban under conditions for the entry of loved ones from third countries who have a long-distance relationship with someone from the Netherlands, starting from July 27.
“The adjusted arrangement only applies if it concerns a visit for a short stay. This applies to a maximum duration of 90 days in the Netherlands within a total period of 180 days. Because, in line with the European agreements on entry measures, there must be a lasting relationship, the scheme will be subject to the following conditions,” a press release of the concerning Ministry explains.
Those wishing to come to the Netherlands under these changes, must prove they have a relationship of at least three months before the ban was introduced, during which period the couple has seen each other ‘regularly’ in person.
A handwritten declaration must be submitted by the couples, in which they declare that they indeed have such a relationship.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it had decided entry for the unmarried/unregistered partners of EU citizens who wish to reunite in Spain, on August 20. In collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Interior, the Spanish MFA also established an entry procedure for those wishing to enter Spain under this purpose.
Foreign nationals who wish to enter Spain to visit or reside with their partner should contact the corresponding Consular Office and submit there the documentary evidence proving their relationship, by submitting the following documents:
Proof that the foreigner is travelling with the EU citizen or to be reunited with them. I.e. plane tickets on the same flight, a notarized statement by an EU citizen, etc.
Proof of a stable and lasting relationship:
documents from local authorities reflecting the existence of the lasting relationship, which must be apostilled or legalized
documents from Spanish authorities or bodies, i.e. proof of an appointment to enter into a contract of marriage in Spain, registration on the census, etc.
joint rental contracts, joint bank account statements, joint invoices, joint ownership of assets, invitations to family events such as weddings, etc.
Switzerland permits third-country nationals that have their unmarried partner in Switzerland, to reunite with them since August 3.
Third country residents wishing to join their lover in Switzerland should show proof that their relationship has existed for a time before the pandemic outbreak, as follows:
A written invitation from the partner who is living in Switzerland
A copy of the partner’s Swiss passport or foreign national identity card
Proof on the existence of the relationship, that the couple has been in regular contact and they have met in person at least once before entry ban was imposed, as a confirmation of partnership signed by both partners, correspondence by letter or email, photos/videos, etc.
Those in need of a visa to travel to Switzerland will be able to apply for one at the local Swiss visa office, given that they meet all entry requirements. Whereas those who do not need a visa, still need to obtain a certificate that confirms their eligibility to enter Switzerland.
Those coming from high-risk areas will have to quarantine upon arrival, for ten days.
*This article is being updated continuously with the most recent changes regarding the issue.
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