Earlier this week, we all breathed a big sigh of relief when we heard that the Biden Administration would be lifting the COVID-19 travel bans. These bans have separated families, hurt businesses, and impacted the economy for over 18 months. We’ve long advocated for the Biden Administration to rely on science, as opposed to a blanket ban on immigrants.
What are the travel bans?
The ongoing COVID-19 travel bans, some of which have been in place since March 2020, have prevented direct travel to the U.S. from over 30 foreign countries including Ireland, the UK, the Schengen region of Europe, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India.
When will the ban be lifted?
The travel ban will be lifted for fully vaccinated travelers in early November, exact date forthcoming. The administration has not yet specified a date for the ban to be lifted outside of ‘early November.’
What will be the new requirements for international travelers?
Once the bans are officially lifted, international travelers will be required to provide full vaccination cards as well as negative COVID tests 3 days prior to the travel date.
“This policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current (travel ban) policies for individual countries as of early November, and will be moving to a consistent, stringent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States.”
Which vaccines will be accepted? Will AstraZeneca vaccine allow me to travel to the US?
We do not yet know the answer to these questions. The Administration confirmed that it will be looking to the CDC to guide which vaccines will be accepted. This is part of the CDC’s standard role in determining who is fully vaccinated for the purposes of recommended or required international travel protocols.
Will there be exceptions?
The exceptions will be very narrow, such as for children; COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants; and, humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner. The Administration has stressed that “these will be very limited exceptions. And we will be requiring that people who receive these very limited exceptions agree to get vaccinated upon arrival.”
The Administration will also be tightening the pre-departure testing requirements and adding a post-arrival testing requirement for unvaccinated travelers. They will also be issuing a new Contact Tracing Order.
What contract tracing will be in place?
The CDC will also issue a Contact Tracing Order that will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the United States. That information will be given to CDC upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.
When will we know more?
As of today, the Administration has not yet released its finalized policies. Stay tuned for updates.
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If you are planning on traveling abroad soon, you may want to consider speaking with an immigration attorney.