US to Rescind Travel Admission Bans for Noncitizens—Effective November 8

Morgan Lewis
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Morgan Lewis

US restrictions on international travel will be lifted November 8 for fully vaccinated international visitors and temporary workers, including those from nearly three dozen nations who have been barred from entering the country since the start of the pandemic. US citizens and permanent residents remain subject to current COVID-19 testing requirements.

This alert is an update to our Immigration Alert of October 19, 2021.

The Biden-Harris administration on October 25 announced that the presidential proclamations restricting entry to the United States will be rescinded, effective 12:01 am EST on November 8, 2021.

As of the effective date, all noncitizens who are nonimmigrants (e.g., visitors, work visas, students, exchange visitors, etc.) traveling to the United States by air will be subject to new entry requirements. Those who are seeking entry at a land and/or sea port of entry will not be subject to the new guidelines. These new measures will also not apply to travelers who are onboard a US-bound flight that departed before the effective time and date.

As of 12:01 am EST on November 8, 2021, all noncitizen air travelers must

  • provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19;
  • provide proof of pre-departure testing for COVID-19;
  • wear a face mask during travel;
  • provide evidence of arranging post-arrival COVID-19 testing in the United States; and
  • provide evidence of arranging self-quarantine or self-isolation in the United States.

Such individuals must also agree to comply with all applicable public health precautions established by the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

NO IMPACT ON VISA ISSUANCE

The proclamation emphasizes that the new guidelines apply to questions of entry or admissibility, but do not impact visa issuance.

Accordingly, individuals shall not be required to provide proof of adherence to the above-noted guidelines during visa appointments, and consular scheduling and adjudication of visa applications should not be negatively impacted by the proclamation. Evidence of compliance will be required at the time of boarding and at the time of inspection for admission in the United States.

VACCINATION MANDATE & EXCEPTIONS

Any noncitizen air traveler who is not fully vaccinated must agree to become vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival, or pursuant to a timeframe established by the CDC director. Such individuals must provide proof that they have made arrangements to become vaccinated prior to departing for the United States. Exceptions to this requirement, as determined by the CDC director, include the following:

  • Noncitizens entering the United States for a brief period
  • Noncitizens for whom vaccination would be inappropriate due to age
  • Noncitizens who have participated or are participating in COVID-19 vaccination clinical trials
  • Noncitizens for whom vaccination would be medically contraindicated
  • Noncitizens for whom the CDC director determines that COVID-19 vaccination is not warranted.

OTHER VACCINATION & TESTING EXEMPTIONS

The COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirement does not apply to the following classifications of noncitizen individuals:

  • Noncitizens who are airline crew members or other aircraft operators
  • Noncitizens seeking entry into—or transiting through—the United States in any of the following classifications: A-1, A-2; C-2; C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official); E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members); G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4; NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO classifications)
  • Noncitizens whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the UN Headquarters Agreement or who are traveling pursuant to US legal obligation (as evidenced by a letter of invitation from the UN or other documentation showing the purpose of such travel)
  • Noncitizens for whom vaccination would be inappropriate due to age
  • Noncitizens who have participated or are participating in COVID-19 vaccination clinical trials
  • Noncitizens for whom vaccination would be medically contraindicated
  • Noncitizens who have been granted an exception for humanitarian or emergency reasons by the CDC director
  • Noncitizens who are citizens of a country in which COVID-19 vaccinations are not widely available, and who seek entry pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa (except for a B-1 or B-2 visa). These countries are defined as those in which less than 10% of the population have been fully vaccinated with any COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC director has also been authorized to include additional countries on this “limited access” list, even if more than 10% of the population is vaccinated.
  • Noncitizens who are members of the US Armed Forces, or spouses or children of any such individual
  • Noncitizens seeking entry as a sea crew member in either of the following classifications: C-1 or D nonimmigrant visa
  • Noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest.

All guidelines set forth above are subject to determinations made by the CDC director and will remain in effect until terminated by the US president.

POLICING OF THE GUIDELINES

Airlines have been directed to deny boarding to noncitizens who do not comply with the above-noted measures. Individuals experiencing extensive wait times for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the current admission bans are recommended to reschedule their flights to enter the United States after November 8.

US citizens and lawful permanent residents are not impacted by this proclamation. However, they remain subject to already-existing CDC-mandated testing requirements.

WHAT CONSTITUTES ‘FULLY VACCINATED’?

As noted in our prior alert, “fully vaccinated,” for purposes of the new entry requirements, means that individuals must have completed a two-week period following the second dose of a two-dose series (such as Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines), or a single-dose vaccine (such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

Travelers must be fully vaccinated with vaccines approved or authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or those that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). Such vaccines currently include Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac. Sputnik V, developed by the Gamaleya National Center, has not yet been authorized. Certain AstraZeneca and Novavax COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants also qualify for entry under the new guidance.

The CDC has advised that mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be acceptable for purposes of evidencing full vaccination. Such situations include instances in which the first dose was administered with a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the second dose was given as a Moderna vaccine.

Read more on COVID-19 vaccination travel guidelines.

[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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