Fall Travel and COVID-19 Policy Update

On October 25, 2021, the Biden administration issued a presidential proclamation to lift travel bans that currently restrict entry to the United States directly from specific geographic areas (for a full list of restricted countries, see our previous customer alert here), to be efficient November 8, 2021. Instead of prohibiting entry from specific places abroad, the United States will use restrictions based on vaccination status for inbound travelers entering the country as non-immigrant non-citizens (i.e. i.e. temporary visa holders or visa-free travelers). Once the new rules come into force, most travelers will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a plane, regardless of their recent travel history (“fully vaccinated Refers to people who have received the final dose of COVID-19 vaccine more than 14 days before).

Currently, the list of acceptable vaccines approved / authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is as follows:

As additional vaccines receive FDA or WHO clearance / approval, it is anticipated that they will be added to the list of acceptable vaccines. In addition, the United States Centers for Disease Control will implement contact tracing protocols. Mask warrants for airlines and airports, as well as pre-travel negative COVID-19 test requirements, will remain in place at least until mid-January.

Exceptions include, but are not limited to, the following types of non-immigrant non-citizens:

  • Certain non-immigrant non-nationals traveling in an official capacity (i.e. representatives of foreign governments and their families, persons entering under a NATO visa classification or persons traveling under United Nations Headquarters Agreement)

  • Children under the age of eighteen (18)

  • Individuals participating in COVID-19 clinical trials *

  • Individuals unable to receive the vaccine due to a medical contraindication, as determined by the CDC

  • Individuals unable to receive the vaccine due to unavailability in their country of residence seeking to enter the United States on a nonimmigrant visa except B-1 / B-2

  • Members of the United States Armed Forces

  • Sea crew members

  • Individuals whose entry is of national interest

  • People benefiting from exceptions for humanitarian or emergency reasons

* The CDC will determine the eligibility criteria for those wishing to enter under this exception.

In addition to the above restrictions, all unvaccinated travelers traveling to the United States must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a day of travel. This requirement includes unvaccinated US citizens and lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders).

Vaccinated U.S. citizens and green card holders must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel.

Finally, additional measures may be required for certain types of travelers, including self-quarantine and vaccination within sixty (60) days of entry.

This policy will remain in effect for an initial period of sixty (60) days and may be renewed monthly thereafter.

U.S. Land Border Updates

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will lift travel restrictions for land and ferry border crossings from Canada and Mexico in two phases, starting November 8, 2021. Instead of keeping land borders closed to non-essential travel, the Biden administration will implement the same policy as it does for air travel. As of November 8, non-essential travel will be allowed for those fully vaccinated, as described above. Non-essential travel will continue to be permitted regardless of immunization status. However, from the beginning January 2022, all persons entering the United States by land border or by ferry will need to be fully immunized. This decision will allow non-essential travel across the land border between Canada and Mexico for the first time since March 21, 2020.

Vaccine compulsory for people wishing to obtain permanent immigrant status

As of October 1, 2021, applicants for immigrant status (i.e. a “green card”) to the United States who must submit Form I-693, Medical Examination Report and Immunization Record must be fully vaccinated as described above against COVID-19. , before a civilian surgeon designated by the Immigration Service can complete and sign the I-693 medical examination form.

Exemptions may be granted in certain circumstances, in particular when the COVID-19 vaccine is:

  • Not suitable for age;

  • Contraindicated due to a medical condition;

  • Not systematically available where the civil surgeon practices; Where

  • The supply is limited and would cause a significant delay for the applicant to receive the vaccination.

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