United States Ends International Travel Ban With New COVID-19 Requirements

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Beginning November 8, 2021, a burden on millions of travelers will be eased with the revocation of the country-specific travel bans that have been in place since 2020. Individuals previously prevented from traveling directly to the United States if they were in one of the 33 banned countries (all countries part of the Schengen Region, the U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, China and Iran) within 14 days prior to seeking entry into the country, will now be able to travel directly to the United States if they have:

  • Proof of full vaccination from COVID-19;
  • Proof of pre-departure testing for COVID-19; and
  • Any other documentation normally required for lawful admission into the United States, such as a valid U.S. visa, valid passport, etc. for the non-immigrant category under which they seek admission the United States.

Prior to the lifting of these travel bans on November 8, 2021, individuals from the banned countries were required to obtain either a National Interest Exception (NIE) from the U.S. government or travel to a non-banned country for at least 14 days before seeking entry into the United States. The bans therefore prevented many tens of thousands of individuals from traveling to the United States and imposed significant travel delays and expenses on those able to obtain exceptions or find workarounds to the bans. The United States will now impose consistent travel requirements on all individuals, regardless of country of origin, seeking to entry the United States via the air.

Starting November 8, 2021, all non-immigrants (e.g., those who are not a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, national or immigrant visa holder) seeking to enter the United States by air must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, provide proof of their vaccination status and provide proof of either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of prior recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding any flight to the United States, with only very limited exceptions. Acceptable vaccinations include all those approved or authorized by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and those approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. Proof of full vaccination may be by either paper or electronic means. Acceptable COVID-19 tests include both nucleic acid tests, such as a PCR test, and antigen tests. Fully vaccinated travelers will have to show that their negative COVID-19 test result was achieved from a sample taken within 72 hours prior to departure to the United States.

While U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents will not have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, all air passengers ages 2 or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must show a negative result of a COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States (or before boarding the first flight in a series of flights booked on the same itinerary to the United States). U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must provide their airline with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample taken within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the United States. However, U.S. citizens, nationals and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 only must show a negative COVID-19 test taken from a sample taken within 72 hours of seeking to board a flight to the United States.

Non-citizens and non-immigrants exempt from the full COVID-19 vaccination requirement for air travel to the United States include:

  • Individuals on diplomatic or official foreign government travel;
  • Children under 18 years of age;
  • Persons with documented medical contradictions to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials;
  • Individuals granted humanitarian or emergency exception;
  • Individuals with a valid non-immigrant visa (excluding B-1 and B-2 visas) who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, as determined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC);
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their dependents;
  • Crew members traveling with a C-1 or D nonimmigrant visa; and
  • Individuals who have received an NIE.

Those exempt from the vaccination requirement for travel to the United States who have not recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days of their entry into the United States will, however, be required to:

  • Be tested for COVID-19 within three to five days after arrival in the United States;
  • Self-quarantine for a full seven days regardless of the result of their post-arrival COVID-19 test; and
  • Self-isolate if they either test positive for COVID-19 or develop COVID-19 symptoms.

For further questions about these new international travel requirements, please contact Ben Kurten or your Reinhart attorney.


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