February 18, 2020

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Coronavirus Travel Ban Update

Due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus, on January 31, 2020 President Trump issued a proclamation, effective February 2, 2020, that temporarily suspends the entry of non-US citizens or permanent residents who have been physically present in China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, during the prior 14-day period prior to seeking entry to the United States. The proclamation also imposes a 14-day quarantine requirement on U.S. citizens who have visited the Hubei Province of China within the 14-period prior to returning to the United States. This alert provides our readers with additional details regarding this travel ban.

The following groups are exempt from the ban:

  • U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;

  • spouses of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;

  • parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, provided that the U.S. citizen or permanent resident is unmarried and under age 21;

  • siblings of U.S. citizens, provided that both are unmarried and under age 21;

  • children, foster children, or wards of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or prospective adoptees;

  • air or sea crew members (C or D visa holders);

  • A and G visa holders and NATO visa holders;

  • certain individuals traveling to the United States at the invitation of the U.S. government or in furtherance of the national interest; and

  • those “whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee.”

The proclamation does not affect an individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Quarantine Measures for U.S. Citizens

Any U.S. citizen who has been in the Hubei Province of China during the 14 days prior to entry will face a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon returning to the United States. Returning U.S. citizens who were present in other parts of China — with the exception of Hong Kong and Macau — will be subject to monitoring at certain points of entry and may be required to implement self-quarantine measures at home.

Impact on Inbound Flights

All inbound flights with individuals who have been physically present in China have been directed to eleven airports, where health protocols have been put in place to process those who may have come in contact with the virus. These airports include John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York; Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Illinois; San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington; Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia (ATL); Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas; Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Michigan; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California; and Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia.

Impact on Visa Processing in China

On February 1, 2020, Mission China announced that the U.S. embassy and all consulates in China will be closed from February 3 to February 7, 2020, in accordance with Chinese government guidance. While emergency American citizen services will remain available, it is unclear when visa services will resume.

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About this Author

Susan J. Cohen, Immigration Attorney, Mintz Law Firm
Member / Founding Chair, Immigration Practice

Susan is a nationally recognized immigration lawyer. As Chair of Mintz’s Immigration Practice, she works with corporate clients to address their immigration challenges. Susan is very active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and has contributed to federal and state immigration regulations. She is frequently quoted in the media. She is also an editor of Mintz’s Immigration Law blog and has been recognized as a “Top Author” by JD Supra. Susan helped to lead a Mintz team that worked with the ACLU of Massachusetts and others to obtain a temporary...

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