On September 20, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that, beginning in early November 2021, it will rescind the current geographic COVID-19 related travel bans for foreign nationals present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India and will require US-bound foreign nationals to show proof of vaccination. A summary of the significant changes to international travel to the United States is below.
Requirements for “Fully Vaccinated” International Air Travelers
Once implemented in early November 2021, all adult foreign nationals traveling will be required to be fully vaccinated and to show proof of vaccination prior to boarding an airplane to the United States. The CDC will release a list of accepted vaccinations and define what constitutes “fully vaccinated” before the new policy goes into effect. It is worth noting that current CDC guidance defines fully vaccinated as those who have received the complete approved dose of either a vaccine approved for use in the United States or approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization but not yet approved in the United States, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Everyone 2 years of age and older, including fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents, will still be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of boarding an international flight to the United States.
Requirements for Unvaccinated International Air Travelers
Unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be able to board an airplane to the United States unless they fall under very limited exceptions, such as those for children, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, and humanitarian exceptions for individuals traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner. Notably, those exempted may be required to get vaccinated upon arrival to the United States.
Prior to returning to the United States from abroad, all unvaccinated US citizens and permanent residents will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of their departure and to show proof that they have purchased a viral test to be taken after their arrival.
Implementation Plans and CDC Orders Expected in the Coming Weeks
The CDC will develop an implementation plan to include a list of accepted vaccinations and guidance as to the type of proof required. It will also replace the current Global Testing Order and issue a new Contact Tracing Order. These new Orders will provide tighter pre-departure testing requirements, a post-arrival testing requirement for unvaccinated travelers, and will require airlines to collect and promptly provide the CDC, upon request, with contact information for every US-bound air passenger to enable the CDC and state and local public health officials to follow-up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.
We will continue to monitor these changes, keep abreast of any additional guidance, and notify you of any material changes. In the meantime, please contact any member of Dentons Cohen & Grigsby’s Immigration Team at 412-297-4900 if you have any questions.