US TRAVEL BANS LIFTED FOR VACCINATED TRAVELERS!
As of November 8, 2021, the Biden administration lifted the travel bans that have restricted entry of certain nonimmigrants for over a year (Read further HERE for more information on previous travel bans)! Instead, President Biden put into place new rules that require all nonimmigrant travelers flying to the US, on or after November 8, be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in order to be allowed entry. Keep reading to find out details regarding the vaccination requirements and the newest up-to-date information on travel due to the new COVID variant (Omnicron).
Qualified travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before traveling to the United States. The type of vaccination you have received is critical. The list of approved vaccines can be found HERE which includes Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Single Dose), Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Covaxin. Individuals will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receipt of the last vaccine dose.
There are limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement. Some of these are below:
- Children:Children under the age of 18.
- Clinical Trials:Those who have participated or are participating in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccination, as determined by the CDC Director. The CDC has provided a list of qualifying vaccine candidates that meet this exception. See Table 3 here. Documentation of clinical trial participation is required.
- Contraindications:Those for whom approved COVID-19 vaccination is medically contraindicated. A letter must be provided to the airline from a licensed physician documenting the contraindication before boarding. The letter should be signed and dated with official contact from the provider, clearly state the contraindication, and have identifiable personal information. Letters not in English may require translation.
- Humanitarian and Emergency Exceptions:Those granted humanitarian or emergency exceptions by the Director of the CDC in limited circumstances for individuals who need to travel to the U.S. for their health and safety and are unable to complete the vaccine requirement before doing so. These individuals should contact the U.S. embassy or consular post nearest to their country providing relevant information about the request. The post will then transmit the information to CDC.
- Limited Vaccine Availability:Citizens of a country with less than 10% of the population vaccinated with any available COVID-19 vaccine, who seek to enter the United States pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa, except for a B-1/B-2 visa. See below for additional information on this exception. A passport/proof of citizenship AND a valid nonimmigrant visa that is not a B-1/B-2 visa will need to be shown.
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their Spouses and Children:These individuals will need to show a U.S. military identification document, such as a military ID, Common Access Card, DEERS ID card, or other proof that the individual is a member or spouse/child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- National Interest Exceptions:Those whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretaries of State, Transportation, Homeland Security or their designees. These individuals will need to show an official U.S. government letter documenting approval of the exception. It is unclear if the current process for obtaining an NIE will continue.
- Diplomats or Persons on Official Government Travel:Individuals seeking entry pursuant to the following visa classifications: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO classifications). These individuals will need to travel with an official letter, such as a letter from the U.S. government or foreign government.
- United Nations Travel:Individuals whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the UN Headquarters Agreement or who is traveling pursuant to United States legal obligation. If they have been invited to the United Nations, they will need a letter documenting the purpose for their travel.
- Sea Crew Members:Individuals seeking entry as sea crew members traveling pursuant to C-1 and D visas, provided the crew member adheres to industry standards for the prevention of COVID-19. They must provide an official letter (paper or digital) from their employer indicating that their entry to the United States is required for the purpose of operating a vessel that will depart from a U.S. seaport.
- Airline Crew Members:Individuals seeking entry to the United States as a crew member on official duty assigned by the airline or aircraft operator that involves operation of aircraft, or the positioning of crew not operating the aircraft (i.e., on “deadhead” status, or are maintenance personnel or contractors whose travel purpose is for flight operation or the safety of the aircraft, are also exempt if they are operating under an air carrier’s or operator’s occupational health and safety program. The exception does not apply to crew members who are traveling for training, commuting to or from work, or for business reasons not associated with the operation of the aircraft, or personal reasons. To be exempt, they must provide an official letter (paper or digital) from their employer confirming the purpose of travel and that specifies that the crew member meets all other criteria to be considered not subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order as set forth above.
To request an exception before travel you can go to the CDC Website for more details.
November 26, 2021, Biden announced new restrictions on travel to the US due to the newest variant Omicron. Immigrants and nonimmigrant are now currently not allowed to travel to the US if they were physically present in countries where the Omicron variant has been detected, including, the Republic of Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, Kingdom of Lesotho, Republic of Malawi, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of Namibia, Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe. Similar to the previous travel bans, these individuals will be suspended entry to the US during the 14-day period prior to their entry or attempted entry. This rule is effective as of November 29, 2021 and will remain in effect until removed by the President of the United States.
Our office will continue to closely monitor developments related to COVID and international travel, and try to provide any relevant information on our website as quickly as possible. For more information on vaccination requirements click HERE. Please make sure to also check out our other blogs HERE and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel where we post videos you can’t miss.