As air travel begins to resume and parts of the globe cautiously begin to re-open, travel freedom and mobility has rapidly changed for many citizens in the time of the coronavirus.
Premium Passports Lose Their Shine: The Henley Passport Index ranks passport power based on the number of destinations their holders can enter without a visa. An extraordinary shift in passport power has occurred due to temporary pandemic-related bans.
Japan Holds No. 1 Spot: Without taking the various travel bans and restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the No. 1 spot on the Henley Passport Index. Singapore remains in second place, while Germany and South Korea rank jointly in third.
Both Japan and South Korea have been included on the EU’s list of safe countries, while Singapore has been excluded.
This means Singaporean passport holders have far less travel freedom than their closest competitors on the index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association.
EU Bans American Visitors: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. passport usually ranked within the top 10 on the Henley Passport Index in the sixth or seventh place, with American citizens able to access 185 destinations around the world without an advance visa.
Last week, the EU released a list of countries whose residents would be allowed entry into the bloc after July 1 based on coronavirus-related health and safety criteria.
The list includes Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea, all of which have traditionally scored highly on the Henley Passport Index.
The Henley Passport Index says that, in a move perceived as a stinging rebuke for its poor handling of the pandemic, the U.S. has been excluded from the list, as were Brazil and Russia.
This could eventually change if the countries come to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic and manage to control the spread, or a vaccine is found.
U.S. nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay , which is included on the EU’s list of welcome countries and ranks 28th on the Henley index.
In another striking inversion, the U.S’s dramatic decline in passport power means that Americans find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico, which is 25th on the index.
“As we have already seen, the pandemic’s impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated,” says Christian Kaelin, chairman of investment migration firm Henley and Partners.
The EU’s recent decision will have far-reaching effects, he says.
International Mobility Restricted: The Henley Passport Index says that as premium passports lose their privileges, experts suggest that the crisis is likely to make international mobility more restricted and unpredictable in the longer term.
“Even as countries open their borders, it is expected that numerous governments will use epidemiological concerns as a justification for imposing new immigration restrictions and nationality-targeted travel bans that will mainly be aimed at citizens of developing countries,” says Yossi Harpaz, assistant professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University.
“The passports of both developing and developed nations stand to decrease in value, at least temporarily. In such uncertain times, global demand for dual citizenship and investor visas is expected to increase.”
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