Biden Administration Issues New Executive Order to Restrict International Travel in Response to Omicron Variant of COVID-19

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Between January 25, 2020 and February 29, 2020, the former administration issued three separate executive orders restricting travel from China, South Africa, Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen region of Europe as a measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. President Biden extended each of these proclamations on January 21, 2021, which remained in place until withdrawn by executive order on October 25, 2021. Under this executive order, all COVID-19 travel bans were lifted effective November 8, 2021, and replaced with mandates for vaccinations and proof of negative COVID-19 testing prior to international travel.

This expansion of international travel was short-lived, however, as the discovery of a COVID-19 variant dubbed “Omicron” has caused many countries to place new restrictions on international travel. In response to the Omicron variant, President Biden issued A Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019 on November 26, 2021, stating in part:

…[T]he United States Government, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services, has reexamined its policies on international travel and concluded that further measures are required to protect the public health from travelers entering the United States from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Effective November 29, 2021, non-citizens who have been physically present in one of the seven countries named above within 14 days prior to travel will not be admitted into the United States. This restriction includes those individuals seeking to enter in nonimmigrant visa status for work, business travel, school, etc. and includes very limited exceptions, including exceptions for U.S. citizens and certain non-citizens who are lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders), or the immediate family member of a U.S. Citizen. This proclamation will remain in effect indefinitely, until rescinded by the president in a subsequent executive action.

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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