Seyfarth Synopsis: As a result of the Omicron variant, the Biden Administration issued travel bans impacting non-citizens who have stayed in 8 African countries within 14 days of entering the U.S. These countries include 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. The travel restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or individuals with certain relationships to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
After replacing country-specific travels bans in October 2021 with a policy based on vaccination status, President Biden issued a proclamation to prohibit the entry into the U.S. by all foreign nationals, immigrant or nonimmigrant, who were physically present within 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, within 14 days before their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.
Certain foreign nationals will not be subject to the most recent set of travel restrictions. Notable exceptions include:
- Lawful permanent residents (“Green Card” holders);
- Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents;
- Parents or guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are unmarried and under twenty-one years old;
- Siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, provided that both individuals are unmarried and under twenty-one years old; and
- U.S. military personnel, along with their spouses and children.
Similar to the previous country-specific travel bans, President Biden’s proclamation has also reserved an exception for any foreign national who has received an invitation from the U.S. government to enter the United States for a cause related to the containment or mitigation of COVID-19, as well as non-citizens whose entry to the U.S. would be in the national interest. Further exceptions are detailed in the proclamation itself.
While the government continues to assess the impact of the Omicron variant, Seyfarth recommends limiting international travel at this time. Given that country-specific travel restrictions have returned, it is possible that the Biden Administration may add new countries to the proclamation if the variant continues to spread.
The travel restriction is effective immediately and will remain in effect until terminated by the President.