Latest country specific COVID travel bans revoked. Vaccination & testing requirements remain.

in Featured
December 28th, 2021

On December 28, 2021, President Biden revoked nonimmigrant travel restrictions to the US through or from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry effective at 12:01am. Proof of a negative COVID test within 24 hours from departure and proof of full COVID vaccination remains in place on all nonimmigrant entry to the US. See details at the CDC website.

On December 6, 2021, all travelers must show a negative COVID test taken no more than 1 day before departing for the US.  This new 1 day testing requirement replaces the previous requirement of 3 days and will be imposed regardless of vaccination status. More details are available on the following CDC website.

On November 26, 2021, President Biden signed a new Presidential Proclamation which bans nonimmigrant travel to the US through or from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry effective at 12:01am November 29, 2021. These bans are in addition to the requirement that all nonimmigrant travelers be fully vaccinated against COVID with a WHO or US FDA acceptable vaccine and be able to document a negative COVID test before departure. A CBP Carrier Liaison Program bulletin clarified that National Interest Exceptions – NIEs – that were granted under previous proclamations are void or invalid with respect the Proclamation of November 26, 2021. This means F-1 students are not automatically exempt from these travel restrictions and will need to contact their nearest US Embassy to request  an individual NIE to travel to the US.

On October 25, 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation which will replace the geographic COVID-related restrictions on travel to the US outlined below, with a requirement that all nonimmigrants be fully vaccinated beginning November 8, 2021 to enter the US. See relevant ISSO news blurb for more details.

On October 15, 2021, the White House announced a new travel policy that will require foreign nationals traveling to the US to demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 beginning November 8, 2021. All international travelers will need to show proof of full vaccination prior to boarding U.S.-bound planes. A COVID-19 test will also be required within three days of departure and proof of negative results must be shown. Enhanced contact tracing and masking will also be required, but there will be no quarantine mandate.

The CDC and other agencies are working to develop the orders and guidance documents to implement this new travel policy and the Department of State will provide further information on travel.state.gov as it becomes available.

The four COVID-19-related presidential proclamations outlined below will continue to limit entry to the United States until the proclamations are officially revoked or amended.

On July 7, 2021, the Secretary of State clarified that National Interest Exemptions (NIE) granted to specific individuals either in writing, or by notation on their nonimmigrant visa, will now be valid for 12 months from initial approval rather than 30 days.

On June 24, 2021, the Secretary of State updated the webpage that clarifies eligibility and application procedures for National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) from COVID travel restrictions.

On April 30, 2021, the Secretary of State added F-1 students travelling from India to the list of students eligible for a National Interest Exemption from COVID travel restrictions.

On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State announced that F-1 students travelling to the US from Brazil, China, Iran and South Africa will automatically qualify for a uniform global National Interest Exception (NIE) to the COVID travel restrictions provided they have a valid F-1 visa and will enter the US on or after August 1, 2021.  These exceptions are in addition to the revised criteria for certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.  Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 visas visa will continue to be automatically considered for an NIE to travel and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel

On March 2, 2021, the Secretary of State revised criteria for national interest exceptions (NIE) from these COVID-related travel restrictions for certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.  Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 visas visa will continue to be automatically considered for an NIE to travel and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. Other types of academics, J-1 students, and journalists who already have a valid visa in the appropriate class, or an ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest US Embassy to request individual consideration for a NIE.

All other nonimmigrant travelers who wish to visit the United States to offer vital support to critical infrastructure sectors, or for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security should contact the nearest US Embassy to request both a new visa and an individual NIE if they believe they qualify for an exception.

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Non-Immigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease extending COVID-related restrictions on travel from all countries covered under previous Proclamations (mainland China, Iran, Brazil, 26 Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom) and restricted travel from South Africa  on January 30, 2021.

On July 22, 2020, the Department of State updated its website to clarify that F-1 nonimmigrants traveling from the 26 Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom would automatically qualify for a national interest exemption (NIE) from these travel restrictions. All other nonimmigrant travelers must request approval for an individual NIE from a US consular post on a case-by-case basis.

Please be advised that this situation is very fluid and travel bans due to the coronavirus may change at any time. Therefore, we urge you to carefully consider any plans to leave the U.S. during the Spring semester as country travel restrictions are changing daily. If you choose to travel, please refer to our Current Travel Advisory for details regarding documents required for re-entry to the US.

All nonimmigrant travel from mainland China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, India and Europe has been suspended for the 14 days preceding entry to the US since the COVID pandemic spread in 2020. More countries may be added to the list without advance warning. See country specific details below:

Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease suspends entry effective 12:01am on May 4, 2021 of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.

Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease suspends entry effective 12:01am on January 30, 2021 of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.

Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry effective 11:59pm May 26, 2020 into the   U.S. of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.

Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus  suspends entry effective 11:59pm March 16, 2020 into the U.S. of aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.

Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry effective 11:59pm March 13, 2020 into the U.S. of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the following 26 Schengen Area countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The 26 Schengen area countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is not included at this time.

Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus suspends entry into the U.S. effective February 2, 2020 of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus suspended entry into the U.S. effective March 2, 2020 of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present in Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Proclamations clarify that the coronavirus travel bans do not apply to any U.S. citizens nor alien who is:

  1. a lawful permanent resident of the United States
  2. a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  3. a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  4. a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  5. a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  6. an alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  7. C (transit) or D (air or sea crewmember) nonimmigrants
  8. seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
  9. an alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  10. an alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
  11. an alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.