A few weeks ago, we welcomed the news that the Biden administration would soon be ending the country-specific COVID travel bans. Some of these bans had been in place since the start of the pandemic and they impacted travelers coming from Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
In place of the bans, the administration announced a requirement for international travelers to be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID prior to their departures. This news was long-awaited by many, from international travelers to immigrants to those with family abroad wanting to spend time with their loved ones once again. Many of us have spent the last few weeks on the edge of our seats, anxiously awaiting specific details from the Biden administration.
Thankfully, on October 25th, U.S. officials released a more detailed list of updates regarding the lifting of the ban. President Biden also addressed the rescission of the ban in a formal Presidential Proclamation entitled “A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Now that’s a Presidential Proclamation we can get behind!
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the ending of the travel bans.
When does the travel ban officially end?
The COVID travel bans officially end on November 8th. While the administration previously announced it would end in “early November” they have since updated the date to November 8th. We will be counting down the days!
Are there any exceptions to the vaccine requirements?
Yes, there are some exceptions but they are very limited.
- US citizens and green cardholders.
- People on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
- All children under 18 years of age
- People with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
- Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
- People with a humanitarian/emergency exception
- People with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
- Sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
- People whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)
More information regarding the specifics of the exceptions can be found in this AILA blog update.
If you meet an exception and are permitted to travel, you agree to comply with applicable public health precautions established by the CDC which may include getting vaccinated, testing, mask-wearing, self-quarantine, and self-isolation, as appropriate.
What are the testing requirements for people entering the U.S.?
The CDC determines the testing requirements. You can see them here.
Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show one of the following:
- If you are fully vaccinated: Proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 3 days before travel.
- If you are NOT fully vaccinated: A negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel.
Children under 2 years old do not need to test. There are also accommodations for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.”
Note that U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who are eligible to travel but are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test one (1) day before their flight’s departure.
U.S citizens and LPRs who are fully vaccinated will need to present airlines with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test three (3) days before their flight.
What vaccines are accepted for travel to the U.S.?
The CDC has the authority to decide what vaccines it will accept for travel to the U.S. You can find the list of accepted vaccines here.
It’s important to note this distinction, which is listed on the CDC website:
CDC has not recommended the use of mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine primary series. However, such strategies are increasingly common in many countries outside of the United States. Therefore, for the purpose of interpreting vaccination records for travel to the United States, CDC will accept combinations of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.
What is considered “fully vaccinated”?
According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks (14 days) after an accepted single-dose vaccine
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an active (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*
We hope you’ve found this information helpful. We wish you safe and happy travels and reunions!
**Disclaimer**: While this article contains information about legal issues, this is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. This does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and McEntee Law Group. You should always consult directly with an immigration attorney for advice regarding your individual case and situation.