White House Officially Releases New COVID-19 Travel Guidance for Travelers Entering U.S.

October 26, 2021 Anne Walsh

The U.S. government has released official guidance for travelers to safely resume global travel during the COVID-19 pandemic that is primarily focused on vaccination. 

Overview 

On Oct. 25, 2021, the White House released a proclamation detailing the resumption of global travel during the pandemic. The proclamation states that the government will cease restricting entry to the U.S. on a country-by-country basis and will instead adopt a policy for air travel and entry into the U.S. based primarily on vaccination status.  

This news is notable to individuals in countries previously banned from entering the U.S. over the last 18 months. Additional information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was also released clarifying implementation of the changes. 

What are the changes? 

The government has provided details for travelers entering the U.S. on or after Nov. 8, 2021. The travel guidance provides instructions and requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.  

Fully vaccinated noncitizens 

Vaccinated noncitizens who are otherwise eligible may enter the U.S. starting on Nov. 8, 2021 if they can show that at least 14 days have passed since they received a single-shot authorized vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose authorized vaccine. Authorized vaccines include: 

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Moderna
  • Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac 

Noncitizens include nonimmigrant visa holders, like H-1B, L-1, and F-1, and green card applicants entering the U.S. with an Advance Parole.  

The vaccine requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or noncitizens traveling on immigrant visas. 

Evidencing vaccine status 

Proof of authorized vaccination must be presented to the airline in advance of departure to the U.S. A paper or digital record by an official source (for example, a public health or government agency) is acceptable assuming a full name, date of birth, vaccine type and date of vaccine administration are all clearly identified. The Department of State provides more background here. 

Continued testing requirements  

COVID-19 testing requirements will still be in place for all travelers.  

Vaccinated noncitizens who are entering the U.S. must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure.  

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and the recency of the test depends on their vaccination status. If vaccinated, they must present a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of departure for the U.S. If they are not fully vaccinated, they must present a negative Covid-19 test taken within one day of departure.  

Children ages two and older can enter the country if they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure. Children who are traveling alone or with an adult who is not vaccinated must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel. 

Further, all travelers to the U.S. must provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights.  

Exceptions for unvaccinated travelers 

Some exceptions will apply for noncitizen travelers who intend to enter the U.S. starting in Nov. but who are not fully vaccinated, including: 

  • Children (persons under age 18)
  • Persons for whom the vaccine is medically not advisable
  • A citizen of a country where the vaccine is limited (less than 10% of population vaccinated)
  • Member of (or spouse or child of) the U.S. Armed Forces
  • A person whose entry would be in the national interest  

Some persons may be obligated to agree to become vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the U.S. (or within some other timeframe or as soon as medically appropriate as determined by the CDC) and must provide proof of having arranged to become vaccinated after arriving in the United States. 

Looking Ahead  

Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) are monitoring this story and will continue to provide updates if more information is released. Please refer to our previous article for more information on eligible vaccines. 

Global travel questions will be discussed on Nov. 9 in Envoy Global’s webinar titled “Holiday Travel Considerations for Foreign National Employees”. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Anne Walsh, who is a Partner 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.  

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