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Travel Restrictions Update: United Kingdom and Ireland

Several Presidential Proclamations suspending travel to the U.S. from abroad due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been issued since January 31, 2020, each building upon the last. Now, restrictions on those traveling from the United Kingdom and Ireland have been added, according to the most recent proclamation, which outlines the short history of these proclamations and expands the restrictions.

By midnight EDT on March 16, 2020 (4:00 a.m. GMT on March 17), foreign nationals who are not yet in the air who have been in the United Kingdom or Ireland during the preceding 14 days will not be allowed to enter the U.S. The United Kingdom and Ireland joins the list of other restricted countries: China, Iran, and the 26 countries Schengen area countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The goal is to prevent all excluded individuals from boarding aircraft, but covered individuals who arrive in the U.S. will be turned back. This includes individuals travelling under the visa waiver program pursuant to ESTA. Anyone subject to the proclamations who attempts to travel with ESTA will have their ESTA cancelled. Anyone who fraudulently or willfully attempts to circumvent these restrictions will be subject to removal. Air carriers also may be subject to fines for each banned individual they bring to the U.S.

These proclamations do not prevent U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (“Green Card” holders), or close family members of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents from entering the United States. Other exempted individuals include air or sea crew members, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their family members, and certain types of foreign government officials. There are also some general exemptions for those whose entry would be in the national interest or whose entry does not pose a significant risk of spreading the virus. Individuals who enter under these exemptions will be subject to enhanced screening at 13 currently designated airports.

These restrictions will prevent:

  • Newly hired foreign nationals living abroad from coming to the U.S. to start employment; and

  • Foreign nationals living and working in the U.S. from travelling abroad and returning – even in emergency situations or to consular process.

We do not know how long these circumstances will last. The restrictions will remain in effect “until terminated” by President Donald Trump. 

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 76


About this Author

Forrest G. Read IV, Immigration, Employment, Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law Firm

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has special expertise in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read's immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and...