Administration Releasing New COVID-19 International Travel Policies for Individuals Flying Into U.S.

Jackson Lewis P.C.

While not all the details are available, the Biden Administration is releasing more information about the lifting of the 14-day travel restrictions.

Here is what is known so far:

  • The 14-day travel restrictions on China, Iran, the UK and Ireland, the 26 Schengen Zone countries, Brazil, South Africa and India are scheduled to be lifted sometime in “early” November. No specific date has been provided.
  • On that same date, the new rule requiring all foreign national adults to be fully vaccinated before boarding flights to the United States, in addition to showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure, will become effective.
  • Individuals must be “fully vaccinated” with a COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the specific vaccines that will be accepted and the criteria for proof of vaccination have yet to be released. This may mean that the approved vaccines could go beyond those that are currently authorized for use in the United States.
  • Unvaccinated U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will face tougher requirements. They will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the United States and will undergo testing upon arrival.
  • Airlines will be required to collect information on travelers that can be used for contact tracing.

Details not yet available include:

  • How children will be treated under the new regimen.
  • The specifics regarding the types of testing that will be required and accepted (e.g., rapid tests, PCR tests, and so on)
  • How the “upon arrival testing” of unvaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents will be conducted.
  • Some limited exemptions to the requirements (perhaps for children and for some humanitarian concerns) are expected, but those have not been detailed. In addition, anyone who receives an exception may have to agree to “vaccination on arrival.”
  • Whether some form of the current national interest exception program will remain in effect for travelers who do not meet the proposed vaccination requirements.

While companies have surely been stymied by the 14-day travel restrictions, it is not yet clear how the switch from the 14-day restrictions for 33 countries to vaccination requirements for all foreign nationals will affect businesses and the economy overall. While employers who have been dealing with the 14-day travel restrictions have something to look forward to, employers with employees they wish to transfer from abroad or who have business dealings in countries with low vaccination rates or limited access to WHO-approved vaccines need to be thinking ahead to November.

Jackson Lewis attorneys will continue to provide updates on these important travel requirements as they become available. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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