With the upcoming end of the school year, and the beginning of the summer vacation season, many foreign national employees are seeking to travel to their home countries, perhaps for the first time in over a year. While we certainly understand the desire to travel, employers and employees should continue to consider avoiding all unnecessary travel to minimize the possibility of delays in the employee’s ability to return to the US due to Covid related processing or travel issues. Please note that visa processing remains difficult in many countries due to Covid related staffing restrictions at US Consular posts. Please also note that while drop box processing may be available at certain posts, the Consulates are operating on Covid protocols as appropriate for the area where they are located, and this could cause delays in processing (especially if it is later determined that your employee needs to schedule an in-person appointment). Therefore, if you have an employee who is planning to depart from the US, please ensure that the employee and his/her manager have made contingency plans in the event the employee is unable to return to the US for a lengthy period.
Additionally, employees considering travel should be aware that there are Covid related travel restrictions on re-entry directly from several countries around the world, and it is always possible that additional Covid related travel restrictions could be imposed. Current travel restrictions are listed here and are updated when the administration deems necessary. With the current situation in India, we believe it is possible that India will be added to the list of travel restricted countries at any time. Please also note that transiting through any of the countries on this list will make your employee subject to the restrictions. Your employee will also need to be prepared to obtain any required Covid testing/results to permit boarding for their flight back to the US. Finally, your employee should be prepared to answer any questions from CBP about how/where you will quarantine following their re-entry to the US.
Should travel be unavoidable, employers and employees should speak with their immigration counsel to ascertain the latest restrictions, and determine what may be required to assist the employee in returning to the US.