Green Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Green

How To Handle Visa Overstays And Issues Due To Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

airport terminal

Please note the situation is changing daily and the information below may be out of date by the time you’re reading it. Because of the quickly developing situation, I’ve included advice and a template you can send to the relevant embassies to get more information.

Closing borders has left people stranded worldwide and many of you, on tourist or other visas, wondering what will happen once travel is permitted again. You might be in a situation where your visa in a foreign country is or has already expired. Below is a template you can use to send to the appropriate embassies.

Template To Send Embassies

Subject: Question – Overstaying Because of COVID-19

Good afternoon,

I’m would like to know the correct procedure for travelers who will be overstaying their visas in (COUNTRY) due to travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and border closings related to COVID-19.

What must be done on our side to make sure we are following the rules in these extreme circumstances?

I would really appreciate if you could point me in the right direction as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance.

This template was highly successful in getting prompt replies from many embassies. Additionally, many nations have already posted or replied back to me with their current procedures. Please be sure to verify anything posted below, it is posted only for informational purposes.

European Union (EU)

In Chapter V Article 33 of the EU Visa Code regarding Extensions, the following is applicable:

The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa shall be extended where the competent authority of a Member State considers that a visa holder has provided proof of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing him from leaving the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the period of validity of or the duration of stay authorised by the visa. Such an extension shall be granted free of charge.

The global pandemic falls under force majeure and visa extension fees have been waived. Get in touch with the embassy of the EU/Schengen country you are currently in to apply for an extension if you are worried about overstaying. Currently, 90 extensions are being issued in most cases for Schengen tourist visas.

buckingham palace

United Kingdom (UK)

The latest information can be found here.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

u.s. capitol building

United States (US)

Tourist Visas:

Note that the expiration date on a U.S. visa does not determine how long one can be in the United States.  The way to confirm one’s required departure date is here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

Those who need to extend their stay must apply with USCIS.  Their website is here:  https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

Non-Tourist Visas:

Please refer to ECA communication dated February 7, 2020, for guidance, specifically the section on exchange visitors currently inside the United States. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. Go to: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations and https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

China

Latest updates here.

The National Immigration Administration has rolled out special measures to facilitate foreigners’ stay in China as well as their arrivals and departures amid the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

With no need of a separate application, foreigners in China will have their stay or residence permits extended automatically for two months during the epidemic period, Liu Haitao, an official with the administration, said on March 1 at a news conference in Beijing.

Immigration offices nationwide will issue urgent exit and entry permits within 24 fours for those coming to China for anti-COVID-19 missions, including medical assistance, drug development and academic exchanges, Liu said.

They could also apply for a special visa at Chinese ports of entry if their journey is made on too short a notice, he added.

Like Chinese citizens, foreign residents in China can file applications online and have documents delivered to their homes after the issuance, Liu said.

South Africa

The latest announcements can be found here.

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic and originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by COVID-19, and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire or has already expired, will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa provided they meet all the prescribed requirements. Visas valid until 31 July 2020 may be issued to such applicants.

Any foreign national who originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such a destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by the COVID-19, and who is the holder of a temporary visa which expired since 01 December 2019 and those which will be expiring up to 31 March 2020 will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa without the need to first obtain FORM 20 (Authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending an application for status)

These are temporary measures and is applicable until further notice.

Thailand

The latest information can be found here. New rules and restrictions for all travelers as of March 22nd.

There is a provision (clause 2.28) in the current Immigration Order 327/2557 concerning the extension of stays that allows immigration to give 30-day extension “based on embassy request”. If you have exhausted all possible extensions of your entry stamp, you may use this embassy letter to extend your stay in Thailand due to travel restrictions in your country or due to the cancellation of the flight. This extension is applicable to any type of entry stamp (visa on arrival, visa exemption, tourist visa or non-immigrant visa). You need to contact your embassy in Thailand if they are able to issue the letter. It is also good to note that some immigration offices may issue the extension without the embassy letter as long as you are able to show proof of cancellation of your flight.

Note: All nationalities currently holding a 60-day tourist visa can still obtain a 30-day visa extension just like before. All nationalities under the visa exemption scheme currently holding 30-day entry stamp are still able to extend for 30 days at the local immigration office, just like before.

Taiwan

The latest announcement:

Automatic 30-day extension for foreigners entering Taiwan on or before March 21 with visa waiver, visitor visa, or landing visa (no application is required) (overstayers excepted).

Mexico

The latest here.

The period of stay allowed will not be more than 180 days, at the end of which you must leave the country by any means because said immigration status does not allow you extend the period of stay in the country or change the condition of stay. Due to the foregoing, and because the Mexican immigration authority has not restricted departures from the country, it must foresee their departure from national territory by another means of transportation available or other than by air in the event of cancellation of the service. It will also be convenient to contact your embassy or consular representation in Mexico in order to obtain the corresponding assistance for your return. Greetings.

Turkey

There has been no general announcement made, so far it seems decisions are being made on a country to country basis. Here’s the latest for U.S. citizens. The current recommendation being made is:

The Government of Turkey announced that due to COVID-19, they are extending visa validity for tourists in Turkey, who cannot leave due to international flight suspension.

That said, we have been sending information on existing flights. Please consider taking a limited commercial option – such as a flight to Doha, Qatar, on Qatar airways, which has connection options to the United States. As long as you purchase a ticket with connections to the United States as your ultimate destination, you will be allowed to board your flight from Istanbul.

We recommend you drive to Istanbul, and take existing flight options out, before commercial flight options disappear.

Turkey (cont.) – Information For Australians

If you are not already, we highly recommend that you monitor the Australian Embassy in Turkey’s Facebook page, Twitter (@AusAmbTurkey) and webpage. For urgent consular assistance, please call our 24 hour Emergency Call Centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.

Visas

We acknowledge that it’s difficult to get the correct advice on extending your visa in Turkey. At this stage, we have not been informed that Turkey will be automatically extending its visas for foreign citizens still in the country as a result of COVID-19. To get an extension, you should try to make contact with local authorities as your first point of call. If you’re still not sure who to contact or how to get an extension, we recommend that you contact the Australian Embassy in Turkey by email on [email protected].

You can also subscribe to updates from Smartraveller for changes to the situation in Turkey.

Updates Incoming

This page will be updated as new information comes in but with this being a developing, global crisis it won’t be possible to post all the information here. Check through to the links however for more information, I’ll be sure to keep adding and updating those as frequently as possible.

Enjoy This Drone Movie Of The Scottish Highlands, Including Isle Of Skye

A few days ago I gave you my best travel advice on how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh. Although that’s a short time in Edinburgh, it’s an even bigger shame to visit Scotland and not make it to the Highlands. If these photos didn’t convince you, perhaps this drone movie guest starring the Isle of Skye will.

Legally, Scotland is one of the easiest places to fly a drone in the world but logistically, the weather can really test your skills. Thankfully, I didn’t crash into anything (this time) however if you’re a noive drone pilot, be sure to learn from these mistakes.

How To Spend 48 Hours In Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city looks like a little storybook medieval tourist destination with plumbing our ancestors lived without. Many of the major tourist destinations are concentrated in the old part of Edinburgh, making it a walk-able city to explore without rushing, even if you only have 2 days.

I lived in town for a time and if you’re planning your first visit, here’s how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh. You can see it all in the video above or read on.

On The Mile

The old part of Edinburgh at first sight is where you might go say to yourself, “oh I get it. Harry Potter makes a lot more sense now.” Not the magic, but the imagery. The Royal Mile is where you’ll spend a lot of your time since it’s the main corridor through the old city. Before planning anything though, know that the weather changes very, very frequently. In most other places a 5 day forecast can all happen in Edinburgh within an hour.

arthur's seat

Keeping that in mind, if you’re up for a solid amount of exercise, start your plans with a hike up Arthur’s Seat. The extinct volcano is a 20 minute walk from the Royal Mile, and another half hour to get to the top. Rain often closes down the main paths but if it’s dry for enough of the day, the views from Arthur’s Seat are beautiful. Warm weather? Sun? You can easily spend hours up there. Everyone else just in it for the views, set aside 2 hours – hopefully sometime in your 48 hours the paths to the top are clear.

Breakfast

Arthur’s Seat or not, enjoy breakfast at Southern Cross Cafe. They’ve got typical Scottish breakfast in vegetarian versions if you prefer, good coffee, with a nice atmosphere saturated with free wireless Internet. Plan to arrive around 10:30am at latest, it gets crowded closer to noon. Then walk down Cockburn (pronounced koh-burn you pervert) for shopping if you need to buy gifts.

southern cross cafe

Cockburn will lead you down Market Street, make a left, then walk 10 minutes up Ramsay Lane. At the top of the street you’ll find Camera Obscura, a good museum especially if you’re traveling with children. To the right is the Edinburgh Castle, not particularly interesting inside so stick to the courtyard in front for city photos to the right and left.

Working Up An Appetite

I’m burning some calories for you now toward Grassmarket (15 minute walk) where on weekends there are often food and other shopping stalls. Otherwise it’s a fairly bland blend of window gazing. From there you’re going to walk up toward Victoria Street, more shopping plus Instagram opportunities.

edinburgh castle

Like a lot of places here, JK Rowling may have been inspired by Victoria Street and nearby at the The Elephant House she wrote parts of the books. Many people just want a picture from outside so now’s your chance. Overpriced coffee with lousy service? Come back closer to 8pm, it’s much quieter then.

Assuming you didn’t eat at The Elephant House, walk up to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern and enjoy a late lunch with a beer with whisky dessert. You’re back now on the Royal Mile. Walk into St. Giles Cathedral, make a small donation for photos, tell your friends it’s where Avengers was filmed.

Planning The Rest

Hopefully you’ve read this far, because I suggest booking tickets to an underground ghost tour with Mercat. They meet right outside of St. Giles and take you to the vaults underneath Edinburgh. These walking tours are around an hour and a half, afterward you might be hungry again (I don’t blame you). The Albanach is right across the street.

st giles cathedral

This is a very full one day but the weather dictates a lot in Edinburgh. Anything outdoors (e.g. Arthur’s Seat) should be put first in your 48 hour schedule. Pepper in your plans a visit to Golden Hare Bookshop, whisky shopping at Royal Mile Whiskies, not to mention whiskey drinking at these 3 places.

Without a doubt, there’s a lot more to do than all I mentioned above. Warmer weather means more outdoors but bigger crowds and the cooler months ad-hoc planning with the weather (just like in Iceland). There are a few more suggestions here for your trip to Edinburgh, with a lot of reasons to visit the Scottish Highlands while you’re nearby.

Finally, remember it’s pronounced Edinburrah, a water drop or two in whisky is acceptable let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Cheers!

Asen’s Fortress Is A Hidden Day Trip In Bulgaria

asen's fortress

More than a few visitors coming to Sofia or Plovdiv tend to miss Asen’s Fortress, an easy day trip from either city tucked away in Bulgaria’s mountains. Likely built by the Thracians roughly 2500 years ago, its unassuming remains obscure the fort’s interesting past. Only two hours away from Sofia and less than 30 from Plovdiv, there are several tour operators running shuttle buses here but if you’re up for it, renting a car gives you more options with fewer crowds.

asen's fort bulgaria

During the fall, winter, and colder days of spring you’re likely to be the only visitors around, having the entire fort to yourself. Walking around the grounds though might not be for everyone, there are a lot of stairs and steep climbs to be aware of. Even so, just stepping out to the front entrance can give you nice views of below.

asens fortress church

Well preserved and restored if you do make the climb up you’ll see the Church of the Holy Mother of God. Built in the 12th or 13th century, it was the only remaining part of Asen’s Fortress which was mostly destroyed in the 14th century.

asen's fortress

Asen’s Fortress was strategically located close enough to the Ottoman capital Istanbul to be a viable staging ground for competing brothers warring to become sultan. Fratricide was common through this era of Ottoman history meaning brothers would murder one another to become sultan.

Church of the Holy Mother of God

Seeing the obvious issues a place like Asen’s Fortress might cause, it is thought Sultan Suleiman destroyed it to prevent a figurative thorn in his western side.

bulgarian flag

You can often catch wonderful views, even on a cloudy day as the winds tend to carry breaks in between the mists of the mountainside below.

asens fort

Asen’s Fortress is open Wednesdays through Sundays from early in the morning through later in the day (8am-5pm). There’s a nominal fee to enter this beautiful place to explore. During the colder months remember to wear good shoes, watch your step, and make your plans around any potential snow.

Further north you can find Belogradchik, a fort built into the natural rock formations, climb Vitosha if you’re staying in Sofia, while all the time keeping in mind they nod backwards here. So when ordering one of these local dishes at a restaurant, they will be bringing you a coffee – unless they’re nodding up and down.

Scottish Highlands Photos Are Why You Need To Visit Right Now

scottish highlands

Scotland as a people and a nation is seductive in all the varieties of that word. The northern reaches of the country it’s mountainous Highlands have an effect visitors so common it may be telling the story of the human heart. Perhaps I’m overly romanticizing but spend as much time over as many visits to Scotland as I have – and the rain, stories of honorably hopeless battles – plus lots of whisky will do that to you too.

The weather forecast here should be given in quarter hours, otherwise it’s like a 12 month forecast most anywhere else.

eilean donan castle

It will rain, it will be windy. Chilly but just warm enough after a short walk to make your armpits sweat. Maybe all of this. Maybe none of it. Likely all at once or not at all.

scotland highlands

I could tell you of the history here. There’s a lot of it. But just look up and know that to have lived here the Scot’s ancestors had to be crazy, tough, and carry a good sense of humor.

eilean donan castle

Fighting off the world’s best armies, Nordic psychopaths whose descendants would later give us Dancing Queen, plus each other at times probably meant you had to enjoy the moment in between.

scotland mountains

Got 10 minutes of sun? Take advantage of it then when the rain hits, drink the night away. The same is still true today for locals and tourists alike.

scottish mountains

The Scottish Highlands are one of the least densely populated areas in Europe (roughly 8 people per square kilometer) which comes with its own gruesome history.

scotland waterfalls

When you arrive you’ll be welcomed. A Saturday night drink in a local Portree pub will have you talking with locals, in between singing sessions.

portree isle of skye

More people should come here you think. But not too many, they’ll just muck it up.

scottish mountains

The Highlands are a geography that are unforgiving. Welcoming too. If tales of warriors fighting to the last person against hopeless odds to defend their land makes you nostalgic for centuries when you (thankfully) weren’t alive… or cows that look like they smoke weed all day make you say “aww” – or both – then you’ll love this part of Scotland.

highland cattle

The landscape and culture here speak to many parts of the human experience which is why it’s so alluring. Scotland’s Highlands are endearing but like the weather, for reasons that are unpredictable. It’s a region with a rolling story across seasons that are just as varied.

eilean donan castle

I’ll have more practical information for you in the coming days on visiting Scotland’s Highlands but why you should visit is where you can start. The reason is somewhere in us all, which is why you’ll love it too.

The Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel

filtered water bottle

Water is essential for biological life but also the biggest ripoff in an airport. Not to mention it’s usually sold in plastic containers so a filtered water bottle can not only save you money but creates less waste as well. There are a variety of options for travelers making a straightforward accessory a potentially complicated decision.

To make it easy, there are basically two types of filtered water bottles to be aware of and these are the best filtered water bottles of each to travel with.

In Short, Two Types

Basically there are two primary types of filtered water bottle – those designed for hikers and those for tap water. For most travelers, the latter is what you’re looking for. The majority of filtered water bottles are made to purify tap water, which is useful at airports, new cities, or at the gym. Essentially, they improve the taste of and eliminate the most common bacteria (down to 0.01 micron) you might come across in already treated water.

The SurviMate won’t filter heavy metals or viruses meaning you can’t just fill it up from a lake and chug. But it can help you get cleaner water from drinking fountains at airports plus has replaceable filters.

Straight Outta Nature

On the other hand if you’ll be hiking or know you won’t have access to treated water, the GRAYL filters out nearly all bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals. GRAYL uses a manual pump system that can remove larger sediments as well. It might be a bit overkill depending on where you’ll be traveling but for the best portable water protection, the GRAYL is worth the investment.

More Options To Choose From

Of all the filtered water bottles I tested, the primary differences between the types were small. Tap water filters generally have a .01 micron limit and many SurviMate knockoffs don’t have replaceable filters. (Many claim the filters are “coming soon” but SurviMate’s been around a while and have filters that last a year under regular use of 4 liters/1 gallon per day.)

As for the wilderness water filters, the prices generally go up based on the amount of water being filtered but for backpackers a typical water bottle size is ideal. Other options like UV pens I’ve found aren’t as reliable since they can’t remove large particles or heavy metals from water like the GRAYL. You can check this map to see where you can and can’t drink the local water, filter tap as you go, or GRAYL for the great outdoors.

Loading