As of January 22, 2022, all non-U.S. individuals seeking entrance to the United States at land or sea ports of entry on the Mexican or Canadian borders must be “fully vaccinated” and provide proof of such. There is no longer an exception for “essential” travel. The requirement does not apply to U.S. individuals, i.e., U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals.
Non-U.S. individuals (with few exceptions) seeking entry must:
- Attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status; and
- Provide proof of vaccination as outlined on the CDC website.
A negative COVID-19 test is not required at land or sea borders.
On the other hand, non-U.S. individuals flying to the United States from Canada or Mexico (like those flying from other international destinations) must be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken no more than one day before departure. An individual who has recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days may present instead of a negative test, evidence of a positive COVID test (taken within 90 days of departure), along with a letter from a healthcare professional stating that the individual is cleared for travel.
The testing requirement applies to everyone 2 years of age and older while the vaccination requirement excepts children under the age of 18.
The northern and southern borders opened to fully vaccinated foreign nationals in November 2021. That was the first time since March 2020 that individuals could enter for non-essential purposes, including tourism and visits with family members.
Now that the borders are open again for tourism, it is important to make sure that individuals who enter do not overstay and start accruing unlawful presence. Unlawful presence of 180 days or more can result in three- and ten-year bars to re-entry. Due to general flexibility at the Canadian border, not all Canadians who enter can find I-94 data alerting them to their approved length of stay in the United States on the official site where that documentation can be retrieved. The CBP Chief Counsel has confirmed that Canadians can accrue unlawful presence even if they are not issued I-94 documentation. In that case, staying for 180 days or more can result in a bar. Canadians must therefore be aware of and abide by that 180-day limit.