On June 12, 2022, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released amended guidelines allowing air travelers departing from a foreign country to enter the United States without first presenting a negative COVID-19 test. Previous country-by-country restrictions limiting travel to the United States from certain countries have also been rolled back. It is important to note that the COVID-19 vaccination requirement before entering the United States by air remains in place for non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrants entering the United States.
On Monday, October 25, 2021, the President issued a proclamation to suspend and limit entry into the United States of non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants (“Covered Persons”) such as those with H-status. 1B or L-1, seeking to enter the United States by air who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC then issued an “Amended Order Implementing the Presidential Proclamation on Promoting the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to implement the President’s directives. As part of these guidelines, the White House reversed its policies implemented under INA § 212(f), which restricted travel to the United States from China, India, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Iran and South Africa.
As of June 12, 2022, all air passengers (including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and non-immigrants) are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 test result or documentary proof of recovery from COVID. -19 before boarding a flight. to enter the United States.
Below is updated guidance on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) your business and employees may have regarding current travel-related COVID-19 testing and vaccination policies. This new CDC information can also be viewed here:
What are the COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements when traveling to the United States under government policy?
Under the current policy, travelers to the United States are not required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before transiting to the United States.
Additionally, the CDC states that foreign nationals traveling to the United States by air will be required to:
- Present proof of full vaccination before boarding the aircraft.
- Provide airlines with complete contact information so that the CDC can implement contact tracing measures in accordance with the contact tracing order provided by the CDC.
Which vaccines will be accepted?
The White House looks to CDC guidelines to decide which vaccines will be accepted. You can find the list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines here. According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated when:
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
- 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not a placebo) in a clinical trial
- 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving 2 doses of any mix-and-match combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines given at least 17 days apart
If you do not meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated. Please note that a booster dose is not required to meet the CDC definition of fully vaccinated.
Does the vaccination policy apply to US nationals traveling to the United States?
US citizens and lawful permanent residents are not required to be fully vaccinated before boarding an aircraft bound for the United States. Additionally, they are no longer required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a plane bound for the United States. Please note:
- The CDC continues to strongly advise against air travel for Americans who are not fully vaccinated; however, all travelers returning to the United States will be required, prior to boarding a plane, to provide airlines with complete contact information so that the CDC can implement contact tracing measures.
Are there any exceptions to the vaccination requirement?
The CDC lists categories of non-citizen nonimmigrants who meet the criteria for exceptions under the CDC’s proclamation and amended order, including:
- Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
- Children under 18
- People with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
- Participants in some COVID-19 vaccine trials
- People benefiting from a humanitarian or emergency exception
- People with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country where the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is limited (see list for updates effective June 28, 2022)
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18)
- Crew members traveling on 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 delegates)
According to the CDC, “if you are traveling by air to the United States under one of these exceptions, you will need to certify that you are exempt from the requirement to present proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. based on any of the exceptions listed above. Failure to meet the required certifications will result in negative immigration consequences, affecting your seamless work authorization and ability to remain in the United States.
What are the implications of vaccination policy on countries with low access to vaccines?
The CDC currently updates the list of foreign countries with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability every 3 months. Travelers from one of the identified countries may be able to travel to the United States before being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Does the vaccination policy affect overland travel in the United States?
The policy only applies to air travel. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that effective Thursday, April 21, 2022, foreign nationals traveling to the United States “via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico border and American-Canadians are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination upon request.
What if I need to travel to the United States from a restricted country?
Country-specific travel restrictions related to travel to the US from China, India, Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, Brazil, Iran and South Africa no longer remain in force. Travel is not restricted from these countries, but COVID-19 vaccination requirements remain for travelers from these countries.
Can it be expected that foreign nationals will be able to obtain visa appointments more easily following the implementation of the new government policy?
Continued delays are expected in obtaining visa appointments in light of the appointment backlogs that exist at State Department consulates around the world. Foreign nationals, with the support of their employers, may be able to request expedited appointments in extraordinary circumstances, including critical business needs for travel and humanitarian reasons.