New Covid-Related Travel Rules

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2021 | COVID

Starting November 8, 2021, all adult non-immigrant travelers entering the United States via air travel must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with only limited exceptions. The proclamation creating this new rule also ends the travel ban restricting entry of non-immigrants who have been in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen Area. Travelers will also have to present proof of negative test, performed within certain time-frames prior to travel.

Additionally, non-essential travel for fully vaccinated individuals across land and ferry borders will be permitted as of November 8, 2021. Essential travel for unvaccinated individuals traveling by land and ferry will be allowed until January 21, 2022. However, after that time, full vaccination status will be required at all types of entry points.

Finally, proof of negative Covid test will be required prior to travel, even for vaccinated travelers.

What vaccines are accepted under this proclamation? A person must have received a vaccine approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), which currently includes the following vaccines: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Single Dose), Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

Following the vaccine, when is a person considered fully vaccinated? A person will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of a multi-dose, or the first dose of a single dose, approved vaccine. Receipt of doses from any two different approved vaccines is acceptable.

What should a traveler carry to prove vaccination status? Before boarding a flight to the United States, adult non-immigrant travelers must provide proof of vaccination to the airline. This can include both paper and digital formats. The airline will verify the traveler’s name, date of birth, and source of the proof, to ensure that it comes from an official source. If the record is not in English, the traveler should check with the airline as to whether a translation will be required. Similar proof will also be required at land and ferry crossings, and it will be presented to CBP. Acceptable proof of vaccination status may include the following:

  • Verifiable digital or paper records, such as vaccination certificates or digital passes accessible via QR code (example: UK NHS COVID Pass or the European Union Digital COVID Certificate).
  • Non-verifiable paper records, such as a paper vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued by a national or sub-national level agency or by an authorized vaccine provider (example: CDC vaccination card).
  • Non-verifiable digital records, such as digital photos of the traveler’s vaccination card or record, or a downloaded record or vaccination certificate from an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider), or a record shown on a mobile phone app without a QR code.

Who Is Exempt from the Vaccination Requirement? The following categories of individuals do not have to prove COVID-19 vaccination status in order to fly into the United States:

  • U.S. citizens and nationals
  • Green card holders (Legal Permanent Residents)
  • Children under 18
  • People who have participated in or are participating in CDC-approved clinical trials
  • People for whom approved COVID-19 vaccination is medically contraindicated as determined by a licensed physician
  • People granted humanitarian or emergency exceptions by the Director of the CDC
  • Citizens of countries where less than 10% of the population is vaccinated, and who seek entry pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa (not including B-1/B-2 travelers)
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces, their spouses, and their children
  • People whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretaries of State, Transportation, or Homeland Security or their designees
  • Diplomats or individuals on official government travel (A-1, A-2, C-3, E-1 (TECRO or TECO), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, NATO 6)
  • Individuals invited by the United Nations
  • Sea crew members (C-1 and D), along with airline crew members

What else must be shown prior to travel? All travelers over the age of 2 will have to present proof of negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding a flight bound for the United States. The timing of this test will differ based on vaccination status:

  • Travelers who are fully vaccinated: The test must have been taken no more than 3 days prior to travel.
  • Travelers who are not fully vaccinated: The test must have been taken no more than one day prior to travel.
  • People who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days must also present proof of recovery and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official.

Do non-vaccinated people have to do anything else? Non-vaccinated people must attest to the following:

  • That they will be tested 3-5 days after arrival in the United States, unless they recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days;
  • That they will self-quarantine for a full seven days, unless they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days; and
  • That they will self-isolate if the post-arrival test is positive or if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.
  • That, if they plan to be in the United States for longer than 60 days, that they agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that they have arranged for vaccination within 60 days of arriving in the United States, unless they are eligible for an exemption from receiving the vaccine.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has provided detailed guidance, upon which this post is based. For further information, please contact [email protected].