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Travel Bans Lifted!

Air-Travel--COVID-Vaccine
On October 25, 2021, the Biden Administration issued Presidential Proclamation, “Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” and officially announced the rescission of Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199, known as the country-specific Travel Bans for Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Schengen Area, South Africa and the United Kingdom, that have impacted the approvals of visas and limited travel of foreign nationals to the United States since January of 2020.  
 
As of November 8, 2021, the U.S. will remove its onerous travel bans in favor of a more sensible policy requiring foreign nationals traveling to the United States to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior their air travel to the United States. 
 
The new rules apply to individuals on flights scheduled to arrive in the United States after 12:01 a.m. eastern time on November 8, 2021.
 
Impact on Visa Interviews, Approvals and Visa Issuance
 
With the issuance of this new Proclamation, the Department of State has instructed its consulates to process visa applications from the countries listed above. However, in light of the many months during which the State Department refused to conduct visa interviews and issue visas for individuals present in the affected countries (effectively turning the travel ban into a visa ban), it is likely that demand for visa interview appointments at consulates will be very high and appointment availability will be limited. Therefore, foreign nationals requiring visa approval and issuance prior to traveling to the United States should anticipate long wait times before a visa interview appointment becomes available.
 
Vaccinated Foreign nationals traveling to the United States on valid visas / visa waiver
 
Starting November 8, 2021, all foreign nationals will be required to provide proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to boarding an airplane to travel to the United States.  Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 includes digitally verifiable vaccination records (i.e.,  U.K. National Health Service COVID Pass, EU Digital COVID Certificate), non-verifiable paper records (i.e., CDC vaccination card) and non-verifiable digital records (i.e., photo of vaccination card or downloaded vaccination record from official source).
 
The Biden Administration has announced a similar requirement for foreign nationals seeking entry/admission at U.S. land border as well, and more information regarding land-entry specific practices is forthcoming.
 
An individual is considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two (2) weeks after the receipt of their first/only dose if they have received a single dose vaccine (Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) and two weeks after the second dose of an FDA authorized or WHO emergency use vaccine (e.g. Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinovac, BIBP/Sinpharm). Mixing and matching of two different vaccines is permitted. A list of the currently authorized vaccines is available here.
 
Vaccinated foreign nationals traveling to the United States will also have to show a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three (3) days of travel to the United States. Both PCR tests and antigen tests are acceptable.
 
There are limited exceptions to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign nationals, including individuals under the age of 18, and for whom the vaccine is medically contra-indicated those for whom the vaccine is not widely available in their country, and individuals traveling on certain diplomatic visas.
 
Vaccinated U.S. Citizens & Lawful Permanent Residents
 
Vaccinated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents traveling to the United States by air will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three (3) days of travel to the United States.  Both PCR tests and antigen tests are acceptable.
 
Unvaccinated U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents and Foreign Nationals
 
Unvaccinated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as the small number of exempted unvaccinated foreign nationals traveling to the United States on visas or under visa waiver, will have to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test within one (1) day of their flight’s departure.
 
These updated requirements are a welcome change for foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States for business, tourism and/or educational purposes from the impacted countries.
 
For more information on the specific vaccination and COVID-19 test requirements for air travel to the United States, please refer to the Department of State’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available here.
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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.