On October 25, President Joseph R. Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation officially rescinding all current COVID-19 regional travel bans and instead imposed a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on all nonimmigrants traveling to the U.S. by air. We first reported here that a tweet issued by the White House indicated that November 8 would be the effective date of the suspension of regional travel bans.
What You Need to Know - Details That Have Emerged from The Presidential Order
- All unvaccinated travelers, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and nonimmigrants eligible for exceptions to the vaccine requirements – will be subject to stricter pre-travel COVID-19 testing.
- While this change in administration policy will ease international travel for many coming to the U.S., the processing of the scheduling of interviews and existing backlogs at U.S. consular posts are expected to increase further and delay nonimmigrant workers from securing appointments at consular posts to commence work in H, L, E1/E2, R1 O1, and other visa classifications.
Who May Enter the USA On or After November 8?
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants will be required to evidence proof of full COVID vaccination prior to boarding an airplane from abroad. This new requirement is in addition to the negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel to the U.S.
- The Proclamation adds a one-day COVID testing protocol for all unvaccinated travelers. Additionally, airlines will be implementing new contact tracing measures applicable to all passengers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status.
- The CDC has also updated COVID international guidance relating to the implementation of this order and includes that the vaccines which are acceptable at this time include –
Janssen/J&J, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
The CDC further indicated that it considers a person fully vaccinated two weeks (14 days) after the last dose of an accepted vaccine. The CDC will further permit vaccines to be mixed and matched as long as both vaccines are on the FDA or WHO lists, and doses are administered at least 17 days apart.
What About U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents Returning Home?
Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must continue to furnish negative COVID tests taken within three days of travel or provide evidence that they have recovered from COVID in order to board a U.S. bound flight.
Unvaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents are subject to stricter regulation and will be required to present a negative COVID test within one day of their flight, or proof of recent recovery.
Who Is Exempt From The Vaccination Requirements?
- Children under the age of 18
- Individuals from countries with low vaccination availability – those individuals coming from countries with less than a 10 percent total vaccination rate in the population or countries otherwise determined to have limited vaccine availability as determined by the CDC. NOTE that this exception will not apply to B-1/B-2 visitors for business or travel. The CDC is expected to issue a list of these countries imminently.
- Individuals with documented medical contraindication for the vaccine as established by the CDC
- Humanitarian or emergency exceptions - requests to be submitted to a consular post abroad
- Those participating in clinical trials
- Certain diplomats/U.S. armed forces and immediate family members
- Individuals whose entry to the United States would be in the ‘national interest’ as determined by the U.S. Department of State, the Transportation Department, or the Department of Homeland Security
It is important to note that there are no exceptions whatsoever under the Presidential Proclamation for individuals who might have a religious or moral objection to the vaccine.
Additional information and resources can be found below:
- Read the White House Fact Sheet here.
- Read the Department of State’s Frequently Asked Questions here.