Biden Administration Plans to Lift Regional COVID-19 Travel Bans and Replace with Global Vaccination Requirement for International Travelers

Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP

The American Immigration Lawyers Association and various news outlets are reporting that, effective early November 2021, the Biden administration intends to:

  • Rescind the regional COVID-19 travel bans restricting travel to the U.S. from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
  • Replace the regional travel bans with a global requirement that all foreign national travelers provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days prior to boarding a flight to the U.S. Limited exceptions may be made for children ineligible for a vaccine and for humanitarian considerations if an individual lacks access to a vaccination but has a critical reason to travel.

Additional Information

The official policy has not been released as of the publication of the this alert. However, the administration has shared the following information with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

  • Starting in early November, foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to show proof of vaccination prior to boarding an airplane.
  • The current requirement for everyone to show proof of a negative test taken within 3 days of boarding a flight to the U.S. will remain in place for all fully vaccinated travelers.
  • American citizens and permanent residents who are not vaccinated will be required to have a COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of boarding a flight to the U.S. rather than 3 days.
  • The new requirements will apply globally as the U.S. moves toward a consistent, stringent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the U.S.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will publish guidance concerning testing requirements and which vaccines will be accepted. The CDC will also issue a Contact Tracing Order that will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the United States and to provide that information promptly to CDC upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.
  • The policy will apply globally to all international air travel to the U.S. Restrictions on non-essential travel at the land borders to the U.S. will remain in place at least through October 21, 2021. The administration is not updating its land border policies at this time.
  • Exceptions to the international air travel requirements will be very narrow and may include children not eligible for a vaccine and individuals lacking access to a vaccine in a timely manner. Such individuals must agree to be vaccinated upon arrival in the U.S.
  • Requirements for National Interest Exemptions for travelers from the current travel restricted regions will remain in place until the regional travel bans are rescinded and the new travel requirements are implemented in early November.

Although not effective until early November, the administration has announced its intended policy now to give the various impacted government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the CDC time to develop the directives and processes to implement the required changes and to provide airlines and businesses an opportunity to plan ahead for international travel contemplating the new requirements.

Gibney is monitoring this matter closely and will provide updates and more detailed information and guidance when the implementing policy guidelines are released.

[View source.]

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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