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Coronavirus and Its Impact on Global Immigration

February 19, 2020

Singapore | As the Coronavirus epidemic continues to affect people traveling around the world, the Singaporean Ministry of Health (MHO) have passed on their recommendations for all travelers to abandon all travel plans to Hubei province China and also to only travel to mainland China if absolutely needed but otherwise to completely cancel all travel plans to the country.

The Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM)  has advised employers and employees to continue to track updates in regard to the virus and its effect on travel.

From January 31, 2020, MOM will reject all new work pass applications for foreign workers from mainland China until further notice. Renewal applications for existing work pass holders will not be affected.

If foreign employees have traveled to mainland China (outside Hubei) within the last 14 days and are arriving in Singapore from February 18, 2020 23:59 hrs, the employer and employee must first obtain MOM’s pre-approval. Employers are required to submit online form 3 days prior to the intended date of entering and then send the approval letters to employees to be produced at immigration. The online form opened on February 13.

Work pass holders entering or returning to Singapore from mainland China will be issued a 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) from the day of their return. Persons under SHN cannot leave the place of residence during the 14-day period. They should monitor their health closely and seek medical attention if they are feeling unwell, or develop any symptoms such as fever, cough or breathlessness.

Employers or employment agents acting on behalf of the hiring company will not be allowed to proceed with the issuance of work passes for these employees during their SHN period. After the SHN, the usual procedures for issuance of work pass, i.e. send workers for medical examination, fingerprinting, attend the Settling-In Programme and safety courses, may then proceed.

Employment agents are liable if they do anything to encourage or assist a person to breach his SHN. For example, by asking an employee on SHN to go through the procedures for work pass issuance.  MOM will revoke the license of such Employment Agents.

MOM will extend the short term visit passes of work permits for 14 days to facilitate the issuance, and notify the employer when it is done. Applicants can extend the deadline for the issuance of Employment / S passes here.  


Australia | The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued an advisory urging all it’s citizens not to travel to China. 

Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents) who are in mainland China, will not be allowed to enter Australia until 14 days after they have left or transited through mainland China.

Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family will still be able to enter Australia, as well as airline crews who have been using appropriate personal protective equipment.

DFAT also advises travelers to be on the lookout for further travel restrictions and disruptions. Furthermore, they urge everyone to monitor their health and follow the advice of local authorities. And to contact their airline, tour operator or travel insurance provider for departure options.


The United States | The United States has put a Level 4 Travel Advisory for China and has advised all its citizens not to travel to China. Travelers with travel history to China will be subject to additional screening and public health measures upon returning to the United States. Furthermore:

All flights with travelers who have been in mainland China within the last 14 days will arrive at a select number of designated ports of entry.

Any U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. who has been in Hubei province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, to ensure they’re provided proper medical care and health screening.

Any U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. who has been in the rest of mainland China within the previous 14 days will undergo proactive entry health screening and self-quarantine to ensure they do not post a public health risk.

Foreign nationals, other than the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States.


Japan | The Government of Japan (GOJ) Cabinet has issued an Order banning people infected with the novel coronavirus from entering Japan. Subsequently, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan announced that effective February 18, 2020, foreigners who have traveled to Hubei and Zhejiang Provinces in China within 14 days before arriving in Japan, and foreigners who have a Chinese passport issued by these provinces, will not be able to land in Japan except under special circumstances.