All travel by land or sea to the United States will also require vaccinations starting in January 2022.
On October 25, 2021, the Biden administration announced additional details on changes to the COVID-19 travel restrictions currently in place. Beginning November 8, 2021 (12:01 a.m. Eastern), the COVID-19-related regional restrictions on travel by foreign nationals to the United States will be replaced with a vaccine-based system. All nonimmigrants traveling by air to the United States will be required to show an acceptable COVID-19 vaccination and negative COVID-19 test―with certain exceptions based, for example, on age or on medical or humanitarian reasons. This new presidential proclamation applies to nonimmigrant travelers aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departs after November 8, 2021, 12:01 a.m. Eastern.
All travel by land or sea to the United States will also require vaccinations starting in January 2022. Until then, essential travel by land or sea is allowed without vaccination.
Current Entry Requirements
Until the restrictions are lifted, current requirements for entry into the United States remain in place for foreign national travelers who were present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India within 14 days prior to the attempted entry. Foreign national travelers from those countries who are subject to the past presidential proclamations are required to obtain a national interest exception (NIE) to apply for a U.S. visa and enter the United States. These restrictions will be replaced by a new requirement (affecting air travel by nonimmigrants from all countries) to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and a negative COVID test taken within three days of boarding a flight to the United States.
The CDC has provided guidance on several exceptions to the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals. These exceptions include children under the age of 18, persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and adults flying in from countries where COVID-19 vaccination is limited (where less than 10 percent of the country’s total population has been fully vaccinated, as long as the entry is not as a B-1 business visitor or B-2 visitor for pleasure). The CDC has posted a list of undervaccinated countries on its website that will be updated every 90 days and will also periodically review the other exceptions.
Rules for U.S. Citizens and LPRs
American citizens and lawful permanent residents may enter even if not vaccinated, but the unvaccinated travelers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of boarding a flight (with accommodations for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days).
North America Entry
Regarding entry into the United States by land or ferry from Canada or Mexico as of November, only fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to enter for nonessential reasons such as tourism, whereas nonvaccinated travelers coming for essential reasons, such as employment or studies, will be permitted to cross into the United States through the end of 2021. As of January 2022, all foreign nationals coming by land or ferry will require vaccination (but no COVID-19 testing).
Unlike the current restrictions in place, U.S. consular posts cannot use this presidential proclamation to refuse visas. Even so, visa applicants should still expect delays in available visa appointments. Duane Morris will advise on more detailed guidance as it is released.
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