Immigration weekly update: January 13, 2022

Immigration updates for China, Brunei, India and more


Brunei Darussalam: Temporary suspension and travel guidelines

Due to the emergence of the Omicron variant resulting in surge of cases, the Brunei authorities have announced the following guidelines effective from January 1, 2022:

  • Temporarily omit all countries from the Travel Green List effective from January 1, 2022.
  • All individuals are required to undergo a RT-PCR test 48-hours before departure from their country of origin to Brunei Darussalam.
  • All individuals are also required to undergo mandatory self-isolation at designated hotels only (duration of quarantine to be determined).
  • All inbound travelers are required to undergo an ART test upon arrival in the country as well as an RT-PCR test on the fifth-day post-arrival.
  • Foreigners who wish to enter Brunei Darussalam for essential purposes are required to obtain Entry Travel Pass approval.

Temporary suspension on Cross-Border activities shall be extended from January 1, 2022, to January 15, 2022. Entry of foreign nationals via land / seaports, including transits through Brunei Darussalam, except for entry and transit travels that have been granted approval by the Government of Brunei Darussalam. They will be subject to existing entry conditions and procedures, for the following purposes:

    • Official Government travel
    • Students who are required to attend school
    • Emergency services (such as ambulances, police, and military)
    • Vaccinated foreign-registered transport operators with Cross-Country Permits issued by the Government of Brunei Darussalam for import deliveries of essential goods.

Entry and exit-country of commuters via land and seaport travel for the purpose of work.

Temporary suspension on entry and exit-country travel approvals for: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

  • Essential travel entry into and exit from Brunei Darussalam for the above-mentioned countries are now allowed, effective from January 1, 2022.
  • For foreign nationals who have been granted pre-approval to enter Brunei Darussalam from the above-mentioned countries, and were then suspended due to previous announcements, they are required to re-submit their entry travel applications before entry into Brunei Darussalam.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Prime Minister’s Office (in English and Malay).

China: Isolation requirements before flying to China

Arrivals to China should self-isolate before departure to qualify for a green Health Declaration Code (HDC) before boarding a flight to China. In addition, either a self-declared Health Monitoring / Commitment form, or a Quarantine Certificate issued by their employer, must be uploaded as part of the process of obtaining the HDC.

Vaccinated passengers should have completed their last dose at least 14-days before the departure flight and upload a Vaccination Commitment Letter.

Some countries are also requiring additional PCR testing in addition to the standard PCR+IgM antibody testing 48-hours before the departure flight. This additional PCR test should be done at a different testing institution than the one doing the standard PCR+IgM test. Some countries are also now asking for IgG test results and for countries that have only released updates in the last two weeks, the testing requirements are now adjusted to two separate PCR tests instead of PCR+IgM.

Those who have a history of infection or are close contacts of suspected / confirmed cases should follow a different procedure to obtain the HDC code. Generally, this will involve the following extra steps:

  1. Lung X-ray / CT scan and 2 PCR tests 24 hours apart – the exact timing depends on the embassy in question.
  2. Pre-review by the embassy.

Self-isolation before the departure flight is usually no less than 14-days (in the case of San Francisco it is three months).

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Chinese Embassies globally.

India: Extension of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card re-issuance

Renewal of the OCI Card is currently mandatory for cardholders who turned 20 or 50 last year. This must also be done if there is a change to the passport. The Indian government has extended OCI Card re-issuance deadline to December 2022 to take account of potential processing delays during the pandemic.

It is recommended that OCI cardholders who turned 20 or 50 last year, or will do so this year, must complete the renewal before the new / extended deadline expires. During the relaxation period, we recommend OCI holders to carry both old and new passports where the OCI card is not reissued.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the American Bazaar Online.

Revised guidelines for international arrivals

The Indian government has revised the existing guidelines for international arrivals into India. This shall be effective January 11, 2022, until further notice. List of countries from where travelers would need to follow additional measures, including post-arrival testing (countries at-risk) can be found here.

Further guidelines for international arrivals for (pre and post-arrival) can be found here.

It is recommended travelers check the latest travel guidelines before commencing travel as the guidelines are changing on a regular basis. For real-time updates, it is recommended to connect with the airline travelers have booked tickets with.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Government of India.

Philippines: BI Annual Report

Within the first 60 days of every calendar year, all registered aliens holding, or in the process of obtaining, paper-based Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) or ACR I-Cards shall report in person to the BI Main Office or any BI-designated offices. Aliens must present their original ACR I-Card and valid passport as well as pay an annual report fee (₱300) and a legal research fee (₱10).

The BI urged foreigners to immediately register with the BI’s online appointment system (here) so they would be given their schedules on when they will make their annual reports. No walk-ins shall be entertained and 800 slots for the AR are reserved per day. BI Accredited Agents are allowed to transact on weekdays, provided they follow the number coding scheme schedule.

Remote AR 2022: The BI Commissioner may authorize annual reporting during Saturdays upon written request of a third party if the number of aliens reportees is more than 100.

Not required to report: Foreign nationals in the Philippines under an ACR I-Card exempt category, such as:

  • 47(a)2 visa holders
  • Retirees
  • Special non-immigrant E.O. 226 visas under Regional or Area Headquarters or Regional Operating Headquarters of multinational companies

Exempted from personal appearance (may file through a representative with a Special Power of Attorney):

  • Children aged below 14
  • Adults aged 65 years old and above
  • Those who are mentally or physically incapacitated; provided a PWD ID is presented
  • Pregnant women and unwell aliens; provided a medical certificate issued by the attending physician or hospital where such alien is confined is presented

Consequences for non-compliance:

  • Pay ₱500 as an Express Lane Fee
  • Submit a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) for the belated compliance and pay ₱1,010 as MR fees
  • In addition to the annual reportorial fees, pay a fine of ₱200 per month of delay up to a maximum of ₱2,000 per year of delay. A fraction of a month shall be considered one month
  • The BI may also impose visa cancelation, deportation, or imprisonment for non-compliance

This summary was prepared suing information obtained from the Philippines News Agency.

Singapore: Update to border measures

The Singapore Authorities are continuously reviewing the Covid-19 current situation and after gathering more information on the Omicron variant, travellers entering Singapore via the Work Pass Holder Lane (WHPL) under Category II, III and IV countries / regions classification and required to serve seven or 10 days Stay Home Notice either at the Place of Residence or SHN Dedicated Facility (SDF) upon arrival, are no longer required to undergo the On-Arrival Covid-19 PCR Test (OAT).

For travelers who have travel history to Category II, III or IV countries / regions  and arrived from January 7, 2022, Changi Airport will automatically refund the test fees seven  working days after the booked arrival date.

Travelers who have paid for their on-arrival Covid-19 PCR test separately at the airport or land / sea checkpoints, please refer to the following:

  • For bookings made at the airport, travelers who wish to cancel their trips, or have other queries, please refer to the following instructions:
    • If they have a Safe Travel Concierge account with CAG: Login to the account, navigate to ‘My Trips’ and choose the trip that they wish to cancel.
    • If they do not have an account, they may wish to email to request assistance in cancellation and refunds.
  • For bookings made at the land / sea checkpoints, travelers may wish to directly email for their refund or cancellation requests.

The Singapore Authorities will closely monitor the evolving Covid-19 situation and update the border measures as the situation changes.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of Health.

Thailand: Covid-19 update

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has decided to re-open three more Sandbox destinations: Krabi, Phang-Nga, and Surat Thani (only Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao) from January 11, 2022, onwards – in addition to Phuket province.

Also from January 11, 2022, the CCSA approved the lifting of travel restrictions on arrivals from eight African countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. This means all travelers from those countries will be allowed to apply for the Thailand Pass under either the Sandbox Programme or the Alternative Quarantine System. Although, the “TEST & GO: Exemption from Quarantine” scheme remains suspended until further notice.

No source available at the time of writing.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Debra Jane Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager (APAC).

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