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International Travel Bans to be Eased in November

Published on

September 22, 2021

After more than 18 months of COVID-19 travel bans restricting foreign nationals from certain countries from entering the United States, the White House on Monday announced it will lift certain geographic travel bans starting in November.

The changes will reopen talent pools for U.S. businesses that typically look to foreign markets for employees.

According to the announcement and Q&A provided by the administration, beginning in early November, the U.S. will rescind the current travel bans implemented for individuals from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India. 

In place of these bans, all international travelers to the U.S. will be required to prove they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide information regarding which vaccines will be accepted.

There will be limited exceptions for children, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason but lacking access to vaccination in a timely manner. Individuals who are exempted from the vaccine requirement may be required to be vaccinated upon arrival.

Some of the specific highlights from the announcement:

  • Starting in early November, adult foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated and must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding an airplane.
  • The current requirement for everyone to show proof of a negative test taken within three days of boarding a flight will remain in place for all fully vaccinated travelers.
  • The CDC continues to strongly discourage air travel by Americans who are not fully vaccinated. However, all unvaccinated travelers who return to the U.S. and are not fully vaccinated will be required to provide proof of a negative test result taken within one day of their departure and provide proof that they have purchased a viral test to be taken after arrival.
  • CDC will also issue a contact tracing order that will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the U.S. and to provide that information promptly to CDC upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.
  • These requirements will apply globally.

For businesses that typically employ foreign nationals, the easing of travel restrictions is good news in an already shallow talent pool. 

If you have any questions about the rules for international travelers, please contact me or any member of the firm’s Immigration Practice Group.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this alert should not be construed as legal advice to be relied upon nor to create an attorney/client relationship. Please note that the reader’s or an industry’s specific situation or circumstances will vary and, thus, for example, an approach that is advisable in one industry may not be appropriate in another industry. If you have questions about your situation or about how to apply information contained in this alert to your situation or industry, you should reach out to an attorney.

The views expressed in this alert are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or the firm’s clients. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly challenging, evolving and, in many cases, can be controversial. Any views expressed in this alert are not intended to advocate for or endorse a particular governmental response to the pandemic.

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