January 06, 2022

White House Advances Safe Resumption of Global Travel During COVID-⁠19

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On October 25, 2021, The Biden Administration issued an official proclamation that will rescind the country-specific travel bans related to COVID-19 effective November 8, 2021 at 12:01am EST and instead, will require foreign nationals traveling to the United States by air to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions. The vaccination requirement, however, will not apply to land border travel and a separate Canada and Mexico land border travel policy will be issued by the Administration and is forthcoming.

Travelers who are fully vaccinated will still be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel, while travelers who fall under an exemption or exception to the vaccination requirement - including U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated - will be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID test taken within one day of travel.

Foreign national travelers should take note of the following key points of the new policy:

  • As of November 8, 2021, foreign national traveling to the U.S. by air must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions as outlined below. They will be required to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding a flight to the United States.
  • Proof of vaccination must be issued by an official source (such as a public health agency, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was given. Airlines will match the name and date of birth to confirm the passenger is the same person reflected on the proof of vaccination, and also determine if the passenger meets the CDC's definition of "fully vaccinated" such as confirming vaccine product, number of vaccine doses received, date(s) of administration, site of vaccination. See the CDC's website for additional information under the new policy.
  • Acceptable vaccines include FDA approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines (i.e. Janssen/J&J, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac as of today)
  • Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if 2 or more weeks have passed since they either received any single dose of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO EUL approved single-dose series (i.e., Janssen), or since they received the last dose of any combination of two-dose series of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 vaccination.

Covid-19 Testing Requirements:

  • All travelers to the U.S. must still obtain a negative COVID test before travel.
    • Fully vaccinated travelers must provide evidence of a negative COVID test within 3 days of travel.
    • Travelers who are eligible for an exemption or exception to the vaccination requirement and are not fully vaccinated - including U.S. citizens and permanent residents - must provide evidence of a negative COVID test within 1 day of travel.

Exemptions and Exceptions to the vaccination requirement:

  • Individuals who are exempt from the vaccination requirement include:
    • U.S. citizens
    • Lawful Permanent Residents (i.e. "green card" holders)
    • Immigrant visa holders (although since October 1, 2021, immigrant visa applicants have been required to obtain a COVID vaccine in order to complete their green card medical exam.)
  • Exceptions to the vaccination requirement:
    • Children under 18 (although children between ages 2 to 17 are required to take a pre-departure COVID test)
      • If traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test 3 days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults). If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within 1 day of departure.
    • Certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants
    • Those with medical contraindications to the vaccines
    • Those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons, with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel
    • Those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability, as determined by the CDC
    • Certain other very limited categories, including an exception for a noncitizen traveler granted an exception by the Director of the CDC for "humanitarian" or emergency reasons, as determined by the CSC
  • Those who receive an exception to the vaccination requirement will generally be required to attest they will comply with applicable public health requirements, including, with very limited exceptions, a requirement that they be vaccinated in the U.S. if they intend to stay here for more than 60 days.

Impact of new policy on visa appointment availability at US Consulates and Embassies:

We also wish to note that per the Department of State's related guidance, the rescission of the travel bans does not mean that visa appointments will be readily available after November 8, 2021. Instead, we caution that visa appointment availability will likely remain very limited at most US Consulates and Embassies for the next several months, particularly during the holiday season, due to increased appointment demand and ongoing visa appointment backlogs, staffing shortages, and particular country-specific COVID-19 conditions.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your appropriate Pryor Cashman contact should you have any questions regarding these new policies that will go into effect on November 8, 2021.

ALM expressly disclaims any express or implied warranty regarding the OnPractice Content, including any implied warranty that the OnPractice Content is accurate, has been corrected or is otherwise free from errors.

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