Quarantine and Woes For Expats Around the World
As Covid-19 becomes an increasingly grave threat to countries around the world, it’s impacting people in more ways than just making them sick. There are major economic and geopolitical struggles that everyone faces as unemployment in the US reaches historical highs and countries place travel restrictions to and from their jurisdictions. There’s nothing legally wrong about the travel restrictions since each nation reserves the right to who they let in—pretty unethical, of course, but legally all above board. I’ve received numerous reports of people being sent back, held back at immigration or downright detained.
These problems could have been very easily avoided if everyone who’s been stopped had applied for residency and now there’s immense uncertainty that’s also wreaking havoc. While people are afraid of getting infected by the virus, they also have to worry about the potential legal consequences of residency as we see the noose on travel tighten with each passing day.
In light of these events, it’s time that we reconsidered our reluctance toward applying for residencies in countries where we spend most of our time. I can’t stress how important it is to have multiple residencies when something like this pandemic shows up. With a passport or a PR, you’ll have legal protection and won’t have to leave money behind.
What’s Happening in the World Right now?
When the Chinese finally told the world about the Coronavirus, one of the biggest concerns was the spread of the disease to other parts of the world. One of the primary reasons the virus epidemic has reached these proportions is that the Chinese didn’t restrict travel to and from Wuhan. It’s estimated that nearly 62.9 million visitors go to China on a yearly basis—basically 62.9 million infected people who’d go back home with the virus.
Since the Chinese didn’t place travel restrictions, a lot of these people went back home to cause the epidemic we see unfolding in front of us right now. Given the infectivity of the Coronavirus, and the fact that there’s no country in the world without it—governments can’t focus their containment procedures on people coming in from only one or two countries. So instead, they’ve stopped anyone and everyone from traveling to try and contain it.
Most of the travel restrictions that we find imposed around the world are modeled in large part based on what the Chinese did too. Given the success of the lockdown in China, all the other governments are also imposing their versions of lockdowns with varying degrees of success so far. While it’s important that these containment measures be implemented, we also need to assess what effects it has on expats who’re living around the world.
So far, it’s been a hay-day as we see a blatant lack of leadership and management around all the countries in the world which seem to impact travelers the most. In Central America, for example, places like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama have stopped travel even for citizens to stop the spread of the disease. You should take a step back and think for a second—if the citizens of these countries can’t travel back, what chances do you have considering how you don’t even have residency?
As a result, there’s a lot of confusion going around as tourists and visitors need to extend their stays over their allowed visa durations and can’t go back to their businesses. These trends will continue until such a time comes when a vaccine is developed or the world somehow managed to get rid of the virus in one sweeping stroke—which seems unlikely so far.
The Threats posed by These Travel Restrictions
While everyone talks about how the Coronavirus is close to overwhelming the healthcare system, there’s little conversation about how it’s affecting the administrative infrastructure. As an increasing number of resources are diverted to healthcare and reducing the impact of the disease, there are hundreds of thousands of people currently stranded on visit visas.
Most of these people actually live full-time in the same countries, living on their temporary visas or work permits even though they could have just applied for PRs a long time ago. Since they never did, they’re locked out of their assets, employment, homes and they can’t even take the steps needed to make sure that their finances and property are kept safe.
Given how unsure we are about the impacts and projections of the disease, we don’t know how long it will be before normalcy is restored to the global travel industries. Until then, you’ll have to just wait it out with that sense of anxiety at the back of your mind wondering what’ll happen to your possessions and belongings in the meanwhile.
It’s exactly for a situation like this that I’ve always said that everyone should get dual-nationality or residency whenever the time arises. Since we don’t know when the next global disaster will hit and what sort of a disaster it will be—having a contingency plan that allows you full mobility and flexibility is an absolute must. The only way to ensure that you’re not left with your palms spread wide, with no idea what to do, is if you start getting foreign accounts, addresses and residencies that will mitigate the impact of global instability on you.
Given the state that Covid-19 has thrown us in, it’s time that you started thinking about ways that you can safeguard yourself from the instability that the disease has brought. This includes making sure that your finances are kept safe and access is always guaranteed no matter what happens.
Having a plan-B seems like paranoia when you’re living in prosperous times with minor concerns, but you need to understand that catastrophes like the Coronavirus don’t ask for permission before they show up. They sneak up on you while you’re taking it easy, thinking that the good times will last forever. Think about it, listen out for news to see what financial opportunities are on the way and please never think twice of getting residency or second citizenship to cushion the uncertainty from global crises like this one.
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