US Exclusion From Europe's Accepted Traveller List Is "Stinging Rebuke"

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 8 July 2020


The "golden visa" specialist has an index of passports, with those not requiring prior visa arrangements deemed as being the most valuable. The US has been a prominent nation on this list, but the EU's ban because of coronavirus shows how conventional measures of travel have been turned upside down, the firm said.     

The decision a week ago by the European Union to exclude US residents from entering the bloc because of COVID-19 worries is a “stinging rebuke” for America’s “poor handling” of the pandemic, according to golden visa specialist firm Henley & Partners.

EU member states have agreed to a list of 15 countries that will be allowed to enter when external borders reopen. The US, which has more than 2.4 million cases of coronavirus, is on the excluded list. The move is ironic because in recent years the US has scored highly for the access value of its passports.

Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican, and China will be included, as long as China allows European Union visitors in the context of reciprocity. That China could be on the accepted list will anger some countries because the virus is widely believed to have originated there, and China has been blamed by a number of nations for not warning the world fast enough. Inevitably, the decision to admit or block countries will be mired in political controversy. Trump's temporary travel ban on the EU earlier this year because of COVID-19 was a blow to Brussels.

Henley & Partners argued that effective management of COVID-19 showed that conventional measures of passport power had been upended. The US is among the worst for coronavirus, as measured on a case per head basis. Chile is highest (14,736 per one million), followed by Kuwait, Peru and the US in fourth. The US figure is 8,200, ahead of Panama at 7,787, Singapore at 7,849, and Sweden at 6,727. (Source: Statista, 1 July) Debate continues on whether figures accurately reflect testing results, and the extent of any such tests. Statista said such data must be “treated with caution”. 

Henley & Partners noted that its Passport Index, which ranks the world’s passports based on the number of destinations holders can visit without a prior visa, contains many countries on the EU’s list of accepted states. The US has also been a high-ranking member of the Passport Index and the EU’s move is “eye-opening”, it said.

“For instance, before COVID-19 the US passport usually ranked within the top 10 on the Henley Passport Index in 6th or 7th place, with its citizens able to access 185 destinations around the world without requiring a visa in advance. However, under the current EU ban, the picture looks starkly different. US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay (included on the EU’s list of welcome countries), which ranks 28th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 153,” Henley & Partners said.

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