Today the White House announced the overarching details of the long-awaited lifting of the “travel ban.” Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House has prohibited entry into the United States of individuals who had been present in a list of countries within 14 days of seeking admission into the United States, with certain exceptions. These countries include the United Kingdom, Ireland, countries of the Schengen region, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. As of November 8, 2021, this ban will no longer be in place. Instead, the White House is requiring travelers to the United States to be fully vaccinated, unless they meet certain criteria. What “fully vaccinated” means, what vaccinations would suffice, and what proof would be acceptable will be announced later and presumably in advance of November 8, 2021.

As a general rule, nonimmigrants, i.e., visa holders, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may not enter the U.S. by air. Exceptions will include those who comply with “applicable public health precautions established by the Director of the CDC” which may include “vaccination [or promise to vaccinate within a certain period of time, such as 60 days of entry], testing, mask-wearing, self-quarantine, and self-isolation.” Examples of actions that the CDC may invoke include “proof of pre-departure testing for COVID-19,” “precautions during air travel to protect against the further introduction, transmission, and spread of COVID-19, including by wearing a face mask,” “proof of having arranged for post-arrival testing for COVID-19,” and “proof of having arranged to self-quarantine or self-isolate after arriving in the United States.” Further any “noncitizen who is a nonimmigrant, who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and who … is permitted to enter the United States by air travel … must agree to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States, within some other timeframe as determined by the Director of the CDC, or as soon as medically appropriate as determined by the Director of the CDC, and must provide proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in the United States.” Exceptions exist for those entering the United States in certain government/diplomatic visa classifications, for humanitarian or emergency reasons, as crew members, in connection with COVID-19 clinical trials, in the national interest, and for whom legitimate medical reasons exist.

The above information has been provided for educational purposes only. The White House’s announcement contains more in-depth details regarding exceptions and requirements. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney if you have any questions.