U.S. Will Rescind Regional Travel Bans and Set New COVID Vaccination Requirements
Pasricha & Patel
Via Presidential Proclamation and beginning on and after November 8, 2021, foreign nationals who possess valid visas, along with proof of COVID-19 vaccination can finally fly to the United States. They must also follow the pre-requisite three (3) day COVID testing requirement. The updated policy signals the gradual resumption of international air travel for foreign visitors to the U.S. who have been restricted from coming to the U.S. ever since the various travel restrictions were first imposed shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. This new policy still leaves in place the land border crossing restrictions that are currently in place between the U.S. and Canada, and between the U.S. and Mexico, which is still restricted to essential travel only. The expectation is that announcements for land border crossing policy changes will be unveiled soon as well.
In light of the new policy that will take effect starting on November 8, 2021, foreign nationals who seek admissions to the United States must:
(a) provide proof of full COVID vaccination before they can board the plane abroad;
(b) they also still must provide a negative COVID test taken within three (3) days of boarding the plane to come to the U.S.
The White House has also provided some exceptions to foreign nationals who do not require vaccinations before boarding the plane to come to the U.S.:
- children under the age of 18;
- nationals coming from countries with less than 10% total vaccination rate in their native population (note: B1/B2 visitors are not included here and they still need to follow vaccination requirement guidelines);
- those who have medical contraindications and therefore, cannot takeover-19 vaccine because it would be harmful to them;
- those who qualify for humanitarian reasons or emergency (on a case-by-case basis and determined by the CDC);
- those who have participated in COVID-19 clinical trials;
- those who fall under air and/or sea crew members; U.S. armed forces and immediate family members; and diplomats and U.N. personnel;
- those who qualify for National Interest Exceptions as determined by the U.S. Department of State, or the U.S. Department of Transportation; or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
However, even if the foreign national were to fall in one of the categories listed above, they will still have to meet additional strict requirements, such as:
1)Provide proof of negative viral test taken within one (1) day of travel to the United States, or provide proof of recent recovery from COVID.
- This requirement also affects all children between the ages of 2to 17, unless they are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, in which case, the children still must follow the three (3) day COVID testing requirement before coming to the United States.
2)These same exempted foreign nationals must agree to become fully vaccinated against COVID either within 60 days of initial arrival in theU.S. or within a reasonable time frame as set by CDC, with certain exceptions.
3)These same exempted foreign nationals may also need to obtain negative COVID test results within three to five days upon arrival in theU.S., and may have to go into quarantine or self-isolation as determined by the CDC, and also would have to be subject to contact tracing measures(which apply to ALL airline passengers, without exception).
While this new policy is welcome news for the many thousands of foreign nationals who have not been able to travel to the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, this does not mean they would be able to immediately fly to the United States after November 8, 2021. Those who require new visas will still have to schedule their visa appointment with their nearest U.S. embassy and/or consulate. And with the relaxation in the travel restrictions, you should expect delays and longer wait times to obtain visa appointments at the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
As the immigration news and policies are changing and ever in flux, we do recommend readers to continue to check with our site for any further updates and news that can impact their plans to fly to the United States. Should you have any specific questions about this new policy and how it could impact your plans to travel to the United States in the near future, we suggest you contact our office for formal consultation.