EU seeks to suspend visa-free travel with Vanuatu over ‘golden passport’ scheme


The European Commission has proposed a suspension of a visa-free travel agreement with the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu because of the nation’s scheme offering passports to rich foreigners.

The proposal was announced on Wednesday local time. If it is backed by EU states, it will be the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on a country for running “golden passport” schemes.

The commission has repeatedly warned the scheme could pose security and money-laundering risks. 

Under the scheme, foreigners can obtain Vanuatu citizenship and a passport in exchange for a minimum investment of $US130,000 ($178,000).

That in turn gives them visa-free access to the EU under a visa-waiver agreement the country has with the 27-nation bloc.

The lucrative “cash for passports” scheme helped keep Vanuatu’s economy afloat when the pandemic hit and the country’s tourism industry was on its knees.

In 2020, the citizenship program accounted for 35 per cent of the government’s revenue.

Approved Vanuatu citizenship agent Catherine Boudier said suspending visa-free travel to the EU would have a huge impact on citizenship sales.

“A lot of the [citizenship] enquiries and why the clients have been contacting us is to be able to travel in Europe,” Ms Boudier told the ABC.

“I personally think it’s very serious.”

Vanuatu Business Resilience Council chair Glen Craig said the effects on Vanuatu’s economy would be “immediate” and “drastic”.

“Especially in COVID times, the Vanuatu economy is almost solely being propped up by the citizenship program,” Mr Craig said.

“For the EU to be looking at such a suspension right now, in a fragile, small South Pacific country, on the grounds that they’ve given, we think it’s pretty poor form.”

Mr Craig said suspending the visa-free travel arrangement would impact on local services like health, education and governance.

“If I was in the finance and economic management department of the government I’d be very stressed right now about how we can afford to pay doctors and nurses and keep hospitals open,” he said.

The commission has proposed suspending visa-free travel for all holders of Vanuatu passports released since May 2015, which is when the investor program started to operate in earnest in the country.

The moratorium would be lifted if the program was properly amended.

The EU executive said the scheme was risky because it essentially accepted all applicants and did not sufficiently screen them, despite some appearing in Interpol’s security databases.

Tess Newton-Cain, the project lead at the Pacific Hub for the Griffith Asia Institute, said one issue the commission had raised was that citizens from countries that were not granted visas into the EU, were using a Vanuatu passport to enter instead.

“They seem to have a concern that these these passports, the Vanuatu passports, are allowing people to do an end run around a process that they would otherwise fall foul of,” Dr Newton-Cain said.

Vanuatu’s embassy in Brussels was not immediately available for comment.

The commission said it was monitoring countries with visa-free access to the EU which were effectively operating or planning to set up investor-citizenship schemes, including Caribbean and Pacific islands and eastern European states Montenegro, Albania and Moldova.

Most EU states have their own schemes offering passports or visas to wealthy foreigners, but the commission considers most of them in line with EU rules, with the exception of programs set up by Cyprus and Malta.

Both states are facing legal challenges from Brussels which require them to change the programs or stop running them to avoid the risk of a fine.

Reuters/ABC



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Passport delays are getting shorter, State Department says


That is a drop from earlier this month, when the department said routine service could take up to 14 weeks from the time of submission to the day a new passport was received. For expedited passports, the wait was up to 10 weeks. In July, the wait time was estimated at 12 to 18 weeks because of a giant backlog.



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Travel expert shares her tip for getting a great passport photo


A TRAVEL expert wants you to have the best passport photo possible.

The tip she shared online is sure you get a picture you like, while also saving money.

A woman says she knows the best tip to get a great passport photo for cheap

3

A woman says she knows the best tip to get a great passport photo for cheapCredit: TikTok
It takes a few simple steps

3

It takes a few simple stepsCredit: TikTok

The travel enthusiast shared a video explaining the steps she recommends to obtain your ideal photo and it all begins with downloading an app. 

“Do not go to Walgreens and pay $14.99 for photos. Go right on your phone and download this app right here,” she said, pointing to the Passport Photo Booth Creator application. 

“Then you take the picture at home and you make sure that it comes out looking good.”

After that, she said it is acceptable to visit your local Walgreens and print the photo.

“Now you have a great passport photo for under $5,” she concluded.

A standard four-by-six-inch photo costs 25 cents at Walgreens, according to its website.

Travel tips are plentiful online, so if you’re traveling soon, there’s surely a hack or trick that can help you. 

For instance, an organization expert revealed how you can make your next hotel visit much more comfortable

Plus, a flight attendant warned against using the wall of a plane as a headrest when seated in a window seat. 

“You’re not the only one who has done that, and you don’t know how many people or children have wiped their hands or other things all over the window,” he said. 

A third savvy traveler revealed that you can hang your phone from your table tray with a barf bag so you don’t have to hold it while watching television during your flight. 

The woman says to download the Passport Photo Booth Creator

3

The woman says to download the Passport Photo Booth CreatorCredit: TikTok

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Travel expert shares her tip for getting a great passport photo


A TRAVEL expert wants you to have the best passport photo possible.

The tip she shared online is sure you get a picture you like, while also saving money.

A woman says she knows the best tip to get a great passport photo for cheap

3

A woman says she knows the best tip to get a great passport photo for cheapCredit: TikTok
It takes a few simple steps

3

It takes a few simple stepsCredit: TikTok

The travel enthusiast shared a video explaining the steps she recommends to obtain your ideal photo and it all begins with downloading an app. 

“Do not go to Walgreens and pay $14.99 for photos. Go right on your phone and download this app right here,” she said, pointing to the Passport Photo Booth Creator application. 

“Then you take the picture at home and you make sure that it comes out looking good.”

After that, she said it is acceptable to visit your local Walgreens and print the photo.

“Now you have a great passport photo for under $5,” she concluded.

A standard four-by-six-inch photo costs 25 cents at Walgreens, according to its website.

Travel tips are plentiful online, so if you’re traveling soon, there’s surely a hack or trick that can help you. 

For instance, an organization expert revealed how you can make your next hotel visit much more comfortable

Plus, a flight attendant warned against using the wall of a plane as a headrest when seated in a window seat. 

“You’re not the only one who has done that, and you don’t know how many people or children have wiped their hands or other things all over the window,” he said. 

A third savvy traveler revealed that you can hang your phone from your table tray with a barf bag so you don’t have to hold it while watching television during your flight. 

The woman says to download the Passport Photo Booth Creator

3

The woman says to download the Passport Photo Booth CreatorCredit: TikTok

We pay for your stories!

Do you have a story for The US Sun team?





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Travel news: Britons furious as passport e-gate outage sparks chaos at airports | UK | News


Travellers arriving at Heathrow, Stansted and Luton airports on Wednesday morning were left waiting for up to two hours at border control due to a national outage of the facilities’ self-service barriers.

It was the third reported failure in three months, following one on September 24 and another on October 6.

The e-gates promise to process as many as five passengers every 45 seconds. But when they fail, the work is up to Border Force officers.

A recent shortage of staff, however, made that a daunting task during Wednesday’s incident.

READ MORE: Christmas could be ruined for five YEARS as Britain struggles to beat Covid

Singer Edward Grint asked: “Stansted or Standstill?

“Landed nearly an hour ago.

“Looks like it’s going to be well over 2 hours waiting for someone to check my forms.”

One Twitter user said: “Another failure at Heathrow airport.

“Welcome home.”

And Stephen Rush added: “We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”

The passport e-gates are used to process the arrivals of UK and EU nationals since the automated system was implemented in 2008.

It was in May 2019 expanded to serve arrivals from the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.

There are more than 270 e-gates across 15 air and rail ports in Britain.

An airport Border Force officer who asked to remain anonymous told The Times: “It’s happened a few times this year.

“It’s very irritating as the hall would be half empty if they were working.

“It’s the joys of technology.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a technical issue affecting eGates at a number of ports.

“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and apologise to all passengers for the inconvenience caused.”

The incident happened shortly after Joe Biden lifted a travel ban between the US and a list of countries including the UK.

Since the US President’s announcement last month that the double-jabbed were free to board a plane to the UK, a surge in bookings has been recorded.

There were fears the e-gate outage at some of London’s airports gave a bad impression to US travellers on the third day of their renewed freedom to visit the UK.





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Why the Queen never needs a passport to travel


The Queen doesn’t use a passport, some royals can’t fly together and they always pack a black outfit. These are some of the royal family’s travel secrets.

The royal family have lots of extra perks when it comes to travelling – as well as more rules to follow.

Here are some of the royal travel secrets which members are aware of when leaving the country.

The Queen doesn’t need a passport

The Queen is the only British person who doesn’t need a passport to travel, as they are issued in her name.

The Royal Family website explains: “As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one.”

This will change to Prince Charles when he becomes King.

Even without a passport, the King or Queen still needs to go through identity checks when travelling in and out of the UK, including name, age and address.

All other royal family members must have a passport.

Prince William can’t fly with Prince Charles

When travelling abroad, royal heirs are not allowed to travel with their parent, in case of an accident.

This is to protect the royal family’s lineage, to prevent them from losing all of the heirs in one incident.

This means the Queen and Prince Charles are not advised to travel together on a flight, along with Princes Charles and Prince William, and eventually Prince William and Prince George.

However, the Queen can grant special circumstances to allow them to fly together – this included Prince William joining Kate Middleton to Australia with nine-month-old Prince George in 2014.

And in 2016, she granted the same allowance when the trio visited Canada.

They always have to have a black outfit packed

Another morbid travel rule they must follow is always packing a black outfit.

This is in case a member of the royal family dies while the rest of the family are abroad, so they can be seen to show their mourning clothes.

The Queen famously was not prepared for this while she was on tour as a young lady, only for her father, who was the king, to pass away.

They often have an emergency blood supply

It isn’t just a black outfit they need – but they sometimes have an emergency blood supply while travelling abroad.

Royal expert Duncan Larcombe said they would have their own bag of blood as part of the emergency medical kit “just in case something happens.”

Gordon Rayner, who attended more than 20 royal tours, said their doctor would have the back-up supply in case there is a shortage when they need it.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission



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U.S. Issues First Passport with Nonbinary Gender Identity Designation


The U.S. State Department has issued the first U.S. passport with the gender designated as “X,” a step toward making a third gender option widely available for nonbinary, intersex and non-gender-conforming applicants, the department announced on Wednesday.

The X gender marker will be open “to all routine passport applicants once we completed the required system and form updates in early 2022,” according to a statement by State Department spokesperson Ned Price. The department last summer announced it would add the option and already allows applicants to select which gender they would like to have on their passport even if it does not match the identification they are using as their supporting department. No medical certification is required for a change in passport gender designation.

The U.S. is joining about a dozen countries that offer a nonbinary or third gender option for passports, including Canada, Argentina, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Iceland, Pakistan and Nepal.

The Human Rights Campaign estimates the State Department policy will benefit about 1.2 million nonbinary adults, 2 million transgender people and about 5.5 million people born intersex in the United States. Price said the department is working “closely with other U.S. government agencies to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity.”



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Travel increase creates fare hike, passport delays still an issue


DENVER (KDVR) — Pandemic travel is getting ready to shift to a faster pace according to industry experts.

The Colorado American Automobile Association reports travel is up 75% from 2019 after losses during the pandemic. Many major airlines will meet increased demand by adding thousands of flights available across the nation between now and the holiday season.

Skyler McKinley of AAA of Colorado told the Problem Solvers, “as the pandemic wears on folks’ concerns about the pandemic wear off, that’s why we tend to see airlines of every stripe adding flights.”

FOX31 spoke with travelers at Denver International Airport who said it’s good to see things bustling again.

“I love walking in there and seeing the airport is full and everybody working again,” one passenger arriving from New Orleans said.

While the pandemic recovery provides a boost for millions of travel industry employees, passengers should be prepared for fare increases and cancellations.

“Many of the airlines said early on ‘we’re going to be totally flexible with our cancellation policies’ … they probably have an economic interest to get you on those flights,” McKinley said. 

Travel experts said it is important to be aware of COVID-19 travel guidelines before leaving for the airport and at your destination. McKinley said whether you travel by plane, bus or take a road trip, public health guidelines remain in place. Pack masks, carry vaccination records and sanitizing products.

“Preventing the spread is the name of the game through at least January of 2022,” McKinley said.

Passport delays are still a problem, so applying or renewing for 2022 trips should be done as soon as possible.

AAA of Colorado reports travel to Colorado is up 19% with more people coming from across the world to enjoy what the state has to offer.

One stranded airline passenger who had a Las Vegas flight canceled told FOX31, “I didn’t get to make it to Vegas so now I’m just trying to make it a romantic weekend with my girlfriend in Colorado.”



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Passport Power Ranking Records Widest Ever Gap in Travel Freedom


LONDON, Oct. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The latest results and research from the Henley Passport Index show how proliferating barriers to entry over the past 18 months of the pandemic have resulted in the widest global mobility gap in its 16-year history, with passport holders from top ranking Japan and Singapore able to travel visa free to 166 more destinations than Afghan nationals, who sit at the bottom of the index with access to just 26 countries without requiring a visa in advance.

Based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the index, which ranks all of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, shows that countries in the global north with high-ranking passports have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions, while many countries with lower-ranking passports in the global south have relaxed their borders without seeing this openness reciprocated. This has created an ever-widening gap in travel freedom even for fully vaccinated travelers from countries at the lower end of the passport power ranking who remain locked out of most of the world.

Unique research and expert analysis commissioned by leading international residence and citizenship by investment advisory firm Henley & Partners indicates that this gap is likely to increase, as pandemic-related restrictions become entrenched and amplify the already significant global mobility divide between advanced and developing economies. Japan, which shares top spot on the index with Singapore due to their visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, currently bars almost all foreign nationals from entry. Germany, which sits alongside South Korea in joint-2nd place with a visa-free/visa-on arrival score of 190, currently restricts nearly 100 countries from entry.

At the lower end of the index, Egypt, ranked 97th, currently has no travel restrictions in place, yet its citizens can access just 51 destinations around the world without acquiring a visa in advance. Similarly, Kenya, which ranks 77th, has no travel bans in place, yet its passport holders can access just 72 destinations visa-free.

Covid an excuse for curbing visitors from global south?

Commenting in Henley & Partners’ Global Mobility Report 2021 Q4, Prof. Mehari Taddele Maru from the United Nations University Institute says “the global north has been enforcing aggressive migration containment strategies for some time now through the rigid application of border controls, undermining the movement of persons in various ways. Covid-19-associated travel restrictions are new additions to the toolbox of migration containment instruments employed by the global north to curb mobility from the global south.” 

Recent adjustments to the Covid-ban policies of the UK and the US, which share 7th place on the index with a visa-free score of 185, have done little to alter what experts perceive to be growing inequalities when it comes to travel freedom and access. Nor has their refusal to recognize vaccines administered across Africa, South America, and South Asia. Although the US has now opened its borders to all fully vaccinated travelers, the UK’s recent revision of its ‘red list’ still excludes fully vaccinated travelers from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa.

Commenting on these latest developments, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, insists that “if want to restart the global economy, it is critical that developed nations encourage inward migration flows, as opposed to persisting with their outmoded restrictions and exclusive approach to the rest of the world.”

Read the Full Press Release

SOURCE Henley & Partners



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Passport delayed? 5 places you can travel without one.


Cruise ships are starting to venture out again from the United States. On “closed-loop” cruises, which start and end at the same U.S. port and visit locations including Alaska, the Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean, travelers don’t need a passport — though cruise lines recommend having one. For those who don’t have a passport, other forms of identification, including a government-issued photo ID for anyone older than 16 and a certified birth certificate, are needed. Some Caribbean islands could require a passport to enter, so passengers should make sure they know what is expected at each stop.



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