NOT travelling in time of Covid-19

Too glad too early… Part II of the story

I was so pumped that we were finally able to overcome all obstacles and fly Dr. Anwar Ali from Pakistan in, to visit the CBGP and prepare a cracker fellowship proposal for the upcoming Marie Curie Individual Fellowship call. Everything appeared to be set, and when Anwar called me Tuesday night, I was ready to receive the good news that he got his boarding pass and was about to hop onto the plane.   

¡Far from it!

What followed was a frantic night trying to convince the State Officer at Islamabad International Airport to allow Anwar to board the aircraft. Final outcome: NO CHANCE…

Again, Anwar had to return home without travelling to Spain. But what happened, what went wrong?

  • Valid Visa issued from the Spanish Embassy in Islamabad for the time from August 25th to September 16th 
    ◊ Check
  • Fresh Covid-19 PCR results from a lab certified by the flight provider, demonstrating that he was Covid-free 
    ◊ Check
  • Filled the data in the Spain Health Travel App and got his QR code
    ◊ Check

So what? The Officer explained me that Anwar needs an extra official “permission” from the Spanish Immigration Department, explicitly allowing him to board the plane. Apparently, his standard type-C Travel Visa for the Schengen Area was NOT sufficient to travel to Spain. Obviously, there was no way of getting any official response from Spanish Immigrations in the middle of the night and in the end the check-in counter closed and the plane left without Anwar.

The issue kept me from sleeping, as I did not understand why his recently issued Visa was all of a sudden invalid. So I did my homework and started to investigate what has happened. 
During the Covid-19 confinement from mid March to the end of June, all travelling to Spain was rigorously stopped and boarders were closed. With the end of the National State of Emergency in June, boarders reopened and travelling resumed, but only for EU member states. In response to the pressure of the European Commission, some very few additional countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Uruguay among others, were added to the list. For citizens of all other countries, the boarders were maintained closed, except there were special reasons, like family reunification or foreign citizens with permanent residency in Spain. This governmental policy was effective until August 31st, and is expected to be extended.

So here is the question: Why on earth would the Spanish Embassy issue worthless C-type Schengen Visa, charging 80 Euro, knowing that the applicant will not be able to use them to travel to Spain?

Absolutely absurd situation, and it is still open as to whether the air carrier will accept my claim and refund the money for the ticket.             

What I learnt from this: DO BETTER NOT TRAVEL in times of Covid-19