White House Issues Proclamation Reopening U.S. to International Travel

Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP

By Presidential Proclamation, the U.S. will reopen international air travel from previously restricted countries on November 8, 2021 at 12:01 am eastern standard time. As previously reported, the country-specific COVID-related travel bans that were implemented in response to the pandemic will be lifted, and will be replaced with a global vaccination requirement. The Proclamation will remain in effect until terminated by the President.

Specifically, the Proclamation:

  • Revokes the country-specific limitations on entry that restricted travel from most European countries, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Iran, South Africa, and China.
  • Suspends air travel to the U.S. for those noncitizen nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  “Noncitizens nonimmigrants” are  individuals who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and who are traveling to the U.S. for a temporary period.
  • Provides that the suspension on traveling to the U.S. unless fully vaccinated does not affect nonimmigrant visa issuance. This means that the State Department can now process visa applications for individuals present in the formerly restricted countries. However, the State Department cautions that rescission of the regional travel bans does not mean that the local consulate will be able to immediately schedule visa interviews  for applicants. This is largely due to application backlogs, resourcing issues, and demand for appointments.

The Proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. LPRs and U.S. nationals. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for this population cautions against  international travel unless fully vaccinated.

CDC Testing and  Vaccination Guidelines

The Proclamation was issued in conjunction with orders and guidance  from the CDC  that require travelers to

  • Provide proof of a  negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the U.S.
  • Wear a mask 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).

Who is Considered Fully Vaccinated?

According to the CDC, an individual is considered fully vaccinated

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving an accepted single dose COVID-19 vaccine
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving a second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving the full series of an active (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart.

Fully vaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants should ensure that their vaccine and proof of vaccination are acceptable to board a flight to the U.S.

What are the Exceptions to the Vaccination Requirement?

Categories of noncitizen nonimmigrants that meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC’s Order may include:

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons with valid visas (excluding B-1 business or B-2 tourism visas) who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
  • Sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
  • Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)

A noncitizen nonimmigrant claiming one of these exceptions may be required to:

  1. Be tested with a COVID-19 viral test 3–5 days after arrival in the U.S., unless providing documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days;
  2. Self-quarantine for a full 7 days, even if the test result for the post-arrival viral test is negative, unless possessing documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days; and
  3. Self-isolate if the result of the post-arrival test is positive or if developing COVID-19 symptoms.

Based on the category of the exception, the noncitizen nonimmigrant may additionally be required to:

  • Agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19; and
  • Arrange to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States, or as soon thereafter as is medically appropriate, unless too young to be vaccinated.

Testing Requirements – All Travelers

Before boarding a flight to the U.S., all travelers – noncitizen nonimmigrants, U.S. citizens, U.S. LPRs and U.S. nationals – are required to show one of the following:

  • If fully vaccinatedProof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 3 days before travel.
  • If NOT fully vaccinatedA negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel.

Children under 2 years old are not required to test. There are also accommodations for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Additional information about the testing requirement is available here.

Additional Resources

Valuable information for all travelers, including information on how vaccination status will be verified by airlines and how exemptions for children will work, is available in the State Department’s Frequently Asked Questions, the  White House Fact Sheet, and the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions.   

[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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