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Volume XI, Number 289

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White House Announces Plan to Remove COVID-19–Related Travel Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated International Travelers

The White House announced on September 20, 2021, that beginning in “early November” 2021, the Biden administration would remove restrictions on international travelers who are seeking to fly to the United States, provided that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This policy change will apply to all international travelers, including persons from countries currently covered by a regional travel ban. The policy change will provide substantial relief to international travelers seeking to enter the United States, including many business immigration visa applicants who are currently facing temporary suspensions for new visas and a patchwork of challenging national interest exceptions (NIE) at U.S. consulates worldwide.

Since January 2020, the United States has instituted a series of travel restrictions impacting travelers from 33 countries globally, including Brazil, China, India, Iran, the Schengen area countries in Europe, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Foreign nationals who have been physically present in these countries within 14 days prior to their planned travel to the United States must be able to obtain an NIE based on specific criteria identified by the U.S. Department of State, or show they are otherwise exempt from these restrictions.

This latest move to lift COVID-19–related travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals traveling to the United States is a major advancement and should provide some welcome relief to persons who have been navigating the ever-changing landscape of the U.S. Department of State’s NIE requirements, as well as long waits at U.S. consulates. While the details of this new plan have yet to be released, fully vaccinated travelers should expect that they would likely be required to provide proof of full vaccination before boarding U.S.-bound flights, as well as negative results of COVID-19 tests taken within three days of travel. In addition, travelers will be expected to comply with enhanced contact-tracing measures and masking requirements. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be releasing a list of accepted vaccines and a contact-tracing order for airlines to collect travelers’ contact information while in the United States. Notably, the newly announced policy shift is expected to apply only to air travel. The entry requirements for travelers entering from Canada and Mexico by land are not likely to change. With this modification in its COVID-19 response, the United States joins a growing number of countries that are relaxing quarantine measures for fully vaccinated travelers, including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and several European Union countries.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 265
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About this Author

Andrew Drozdowski, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Immigration and Sports Attorney
Associate

Andrew Drozdowski graduated from Boston College (B.A. in Communication) in 2000 and Albany Law School (J.D.) in 2010. Andrew joined Ogletree Deakins in 2013 after working at a boutique immigration firm located in New Jersey and New York City. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey, New York and in the federal District of New Jersey. Andrew is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the New York State Bar Association.

Andrew regularly counsels and advises U.S. and multinational companies on business immigration...

919-789-3120
Sarah P. Chiang Attorney Immigration Law Ogletree Deakins Washington DC
Associate

Since being admitted to the bar in 2012, Sarah has been practicing immigration law exclusively. She has expertise in a broad range of immigration matters, including family-based and employment-based applications for lawful permanent residency, nonimmigrant visa applications, naturalization, hardship waivers, and removal defense. Her current practice focuses on assisting employers in multiple types of work visa petitions (H-1B, TN, L-1, etc.), as well as sponsorship applications for permanent residency (PERM labor certification, EB-1 extraordinary ability, etc.) She is a...

202-263-0166
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