U.S. Lifts Regional Travel Bans and Imposes Vaccination Requirement for All Adult Foreign National Travelers

On November 8, 2021, the COVID-19 regional travel bans, which prohibited entry into the United States of persons physically present in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, will end. Instead, all adult foreign national travelers, with some exceptions, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

More information about this global vaccination requirement, including details on exceptions and waivers due to humanitarian concerns, is available at Non-U.S. citizen, Non-U.S. immigrants: Air Travel to the United States | CDC. According to the CDC, “if you are a non-U.S. citizen non-U.S. immigrant and not fully vaccinated, you will not be allowed to enter the United States. This rule applies to any one who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa. Also, all travelers are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 when traveling to the United States by air.

There are certain exceptions to the vaccination rule, which include:

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons 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
  • Persons 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)

However, those who fall under these exceptions may be required to agree to a COVID test, vaccination in the U.S., and/or self-quarantine.  

Acceptable vaccines are Janssen/J&J, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination must include:

  • Personal identifiers (at a minimum, full name and date of birth) that match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel documents
  • Name of official source issuing the record (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider)
  • Vaccine manufacturer and date(s) of vaccination

Now that the regional travel bans are lifted, U.S. embassies can issue visas to nationals physically present in the affected countries.  National Interest Exceptions (NIE) are no longer required as well. However, the lifting of restrictions does not mean that the local U.S. embassy or consulate is able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews. Applicants should check the embassy/consulate website for information on available visa services and instructions on how to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.

Resource: Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Releases Additional Detail for Implementing a Safer, More Stringent International Air Travel System

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-494-8033, text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form.

Published by Ann Badmus

If you're a foreign medical graduate or medical professional who wishes to practice anywhere in the United States, Badmus & Associates can help you navigate the often complicated immigration process. You are invited to contact us at 214-494-8033 or at immigration@badmuslaw.com.

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