The winter holidays are quickly approaching, and many people are planning to travel. Whether you’re traveling for business or vacation, there are important requirements to consider before you leave. Although COVID-19 restrictions are not as stringent in many places this year, many countries still have some travel policies and entrance requirements in place. Knowing what restrictions and requirements are in place for your destination can save time and reduce the stress associated with traveling across borders.
Below are some critical tips for your holiday travel. While this information is a general overview of current COVID-19 restrictions and preparation for travel, don’t hesitate to contact your immigration team for personal assistance and more details.
U.S.: COVID-19 Entry Requirements for International Travelers
Vaccinated Status: As of June 12, 2022, vaccinated foreign national travelers entering the U.S. by air are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test or show negative COVID-19 test results before departing to the U.S. The order applies to travelers aged two and older who are entering the U.S. from another country. Individuals who are not legal permanent residents (LPRs), U.S. nationals or U.S. citizens can only enter the country if they are fully vaccinated, with limited exceptions. Entry restrictions are still in effect for people entering the U.S. by land and ferry.
Please see our latest update on COVID-19 travel requirements for inbound travel to the U.S.
North America: COVID-19 Travel Updates
In 2022, COVID-19 travel protocols were reduced across North America. On Oct. 1, 2022, Canada eliminated all its COVID-19 entry requirements. Travelers are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination, quarantine or isolate, monitor signs and symptoms of illness and submit health information to the government. The protocols also apply to ferry passengers.
Please see our corresponding post for full details.
Although COVID-19 requirements changed in 2022 for some travelers, others are still subject to more stringent policies. The information below will assist travelers who do not otherwise meet the travel exemptions.
- Proof of Vaccination: Individuals who are not LPRs, U.S. nationals or U.S. citizens, traveling to the U.S. by air, are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Accepted Vaccines: The CDC has determined that for travel to the U.S., accepted vaccines will include FDA-approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines. Individuals will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receipt of the last dose of the vaccine.
- Enhanced Testing: Some travelers must produce a negative COVID-19 test result, with a test taken within three days of travel. A negative COVID-19 test, taken within one day of departure, may be necessary for unvaccinated U.S. citizens and LPRs.
- Requirements for Children: Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers, but children between the ages of two and 17 must take a pre-departure test regardless of vaccination status. Children under age two are exempt from testing requirements. If traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days before departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults). If an unvaccinated child travels alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within 24 hours of departure.
Limited Exceptions to Vaccine Requirements:
- Children under 18 (see above).
- Specific COVID-19 clinical trial participants.
- Travelers with medical contraindications or reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine
- Travelers issued a humanitarian or emergency exception (via a U.S. government-issued letter).
- Travelers entering on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC).
- U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18).
Travelers who receive an exception and intend to stay in the U.S. for more than 60 days will generally be required to attest they will comply with applicable public health requirements, including, with minimal exceptions, a condition that they are vaccinated in the U.S.
Travel Across Canada/Mexico Land Borders or Ferry Crossings:
- Canada has lifted all COVID-19 entry restrictions
- Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result is no longer required to enter Canada for air and ferry passengers
- Fully vaccinated foreign nationals with an approved CDC or WHO COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to enter the U.S. through a Canada or Mexico land border/ferry crossing
Exceptions: With limited exceptions, unvaccinated foreign nationals may not enter the U.S. through a Canada or Mexico land border/ferry crossing.
Essential travel is not subject to vaccination requirements.
Make Sure Your Documents Remain Valid
Passport: For U.S. inbound travelers, make sure your passport is valid for at least as long as the validity period on your Form I-797 Approval Notice (six months beyond that date if the country issuing the passport is not on the six-month club list. If not, your I-94 expiration when re-entering the U.S. will match your passport expiration date (meaning, your period of stay in the U.S. will be shortened).
Visa Stamps: For most non-immigrant workers, you will need a valid visa stamp for the appropriate non-immigrant category in your passport to re-enter the U.S.
Book your visa appointment via the DOS website before you depart the U.S. Complete your DS-160 online before booking your travel to determine the availability of visa appointments. Most U.S. consulates worldwide are beginning to resume operations at pre-pandemic capacity, but you should check with the consulate at your chosen destination to find out what services are available.
Note that some consulates may still have longer wait times for visa appointments even if they have continued partial or complete visa services.
I-797 Approval & Petition: If you are in the U.S. on a non-immigrant employment-based petition, make sure you have your most recent original non-immigrant petition approval notice – aka the “Form I-797 Approval Notice.” Be sure also to have the necessary supporting documents.
L-1 Blanket Petition Applicants: You will need to present your original Form I-129S endorsed by an immigration officer.
Proof of Continuing Employment: Bring copies of your three most recent paystubs and/or an Employment Verification Letter from your HR to show continued employment in the U.S.
Permanent Residents/Permanent Residence Applicants
Make sure that you have your Green Card with you and that it is unexpired and undamaged.
If your Green Card/Adjustment of Status Application is pending, you should have your valid Advance Parole document or a valid non-immigrant visa to re-enter the U.S.
If you have a pending advance parole application, it is recommended that you wait for it to be approved before traveling internationally, as the advance parole application may be denied if you depart the U.S. while it is still pending.
Transiting Through Other Countries or Regions
If you must transit through another country to get to your destination (e.g., layover), ensure that you have the required visa and documents applicable to the transiting country. If you have any questions regarding the country’s visa requirements that you will be transiting through, please get in touch with your immigration team for assistance.
Plan Extra Time for Travel Delays
International travel can incur many unexpected delays. Add extra time to cover increased wait times for customs inspection, security checkpoints, COVID-19 screenings and other related procedures.
Plan for potential delays and arrange travel that is refundable or can be rescheduled if needed. Let your HR manager know of delays that arise.
When You Return to the U.S.
Questions from U.S. Customs: If you are stopped or questioned by U.S. Customs officers, U.S. immigration officials, or other Port of Entry/Airport personnel, be cooperative, listen carefully to any questions asked, and answer clearly and concisely. Be ready to answer questions on your immigration status, such as the following:
- Who is your employer?
- What is your job title?
- What do you do in the U.S.?
- How long do you plan to stay?
You should review the job details listed in your most recently filed petition so you are prepared to answer these questions. You can check with your immigration team before you depart if you have any questions about how your job details appear in your petition. If you do not know the answer to an officer’s question, it is okay to say so. It is better to answer truthfully than make up an answer that can become problematic later.
Arriving at a U.S. Entry: You do not have the right to an attorney when at a Port of Entry or Preflight Inspection Facility. However, immigration officials are generally reasonable and understanding and may allow you to contact your immigration counsel for assistance.
Provide Your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Once you have returned to the U.S., remember to:
- Check your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record online: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov > Get Most Recent I-94.
- Confirm that your information is correct and that you were given the right status and duration of time.
- Upload your and your dependent family members’ I-94 record(s) (and visas if you secured new ones) to your Envoy Web Portal after each international travel.
By following these steps, you will ensure that your U.S. immigration status is adequately monitored and maintained.
Safe travels and happy holidays from the Envoy Family!
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Amanda Bolhuis and Rita Ambrosetti, who are Partners at Global Immigration Associates (GIA), one of the two independent U.S. law firms Envoy exclusively works with on the Envoy Platform (the "U.S. Law Firms").
Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.
About the AuthorMore Content by Amanda Bolhuis