On October 25, 2021, the White House issued a new Presidential Proclamation (the “Proclamation”) which rescinds the existing COVID-19 travel restrictions effective November 8, 2021 at 12:01AM EST. This Proclamation replaces the COVID-19 travel restrictions with a new COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States via air travel.
Specifically, starting on November 8, 2021, foreign nationals traveling to the United States by air will need to comply with the following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- You must be fully vaccinated to travel to the United States by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa). Only limited exceptions apply.
- You are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 when you travel to the United States by air. The timing of this test depends on your vaccination status and age.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required in indoor areas of public transportation (including airplanes) traveling into, within, or out of the United States and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs (including airports).
In summary, effective November 8, 2021, foreign nationals traveling to the United States will need to carry proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will need to show a negative COVID-19 test.
- Individuals who are fully vaccinated need to provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 3 days before travel.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless they meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and the CDC guidance. Individuals who are NOT fully vaccinated need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel.
There are also accommodations for individuals who have documented evidence of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. The CDC has a frequently asked questions page on its website with additional helpful information.
The CDC has also published guidance for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, which outlines the requirements to enter the United States when returning from abroad.
At this time, we are still awaiting further guidance regarding travel restrictions at the land borders between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Until November 8, 2021, any planned travel to the United States will need to comply with the existing travel restrictions and applicable national interest exceptions.
Given the severe disruptions in consular operations over the past two years, it is expected that there will continue to be severe backlogs in obtaining appointments and visas at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Due to the expected increase of eligible individuals seeking the necessary documentation to travel to the United States, consular appointment delays should be expected.
Employers should identify personnel who may be affected by this new guidance and contact their counsel to discuss strategies and considerations regarding the travel of these employees. Williams Mullen is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates as further information becomes available.
Finally, given that the state of COVID-19 remains fluid, travelers are reminded to monitor the CDC’s COVID-19 page for the latest developments and alerts for international travel.