The Biden Administration announced yesterday that the United States would ease entry bans on foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, it is not clear from the announcement whether the lifting of the entry ban will affect nationals of all 33 countries currently being impacted. Most foreign nationals residing in or traveling to or through the European Union’s Schengen Zone, Brazil, China, India, Iran, and South Africa currently require either a hard-to-secure National Interest Exception (NIE) waiver or must travel to a non-COVID restricted country for at least 14 full days before being allowed to enter the United States.
White House pandemic coordinator Jeffrey Zients specified yesterday that the easing of restrictions is limited to air travel only – the land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel, until further announcement. According to Zients, travelers will be required to show proof of full vaccination before boarding flights to the United States, and also need to produce a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure for the United States. The news release Monday indicated no exceptions for unvaccinated people or quarantine requirement for travelers who meet the above requirements for vaccination and negative test results. News media report that the easing of restrictions for foreign nationals entering by air will take effect in November. Officials state that further details will be forthcoming, including information on acceptable vaccines, proof of vaccination and negative test results, and exact implementation date.
In addition to the open question of which countries will be impacted by the lifting of the travel ban, what remains to be seen is whether visa processing at U.S. consulates will return to a pre-COVID state. Currently, many are still not offering visa services or are doing so on a limited or emergency basis.
We will update this article with any new developments regarding this issue. Please reach out to your Maggio Kattar attorney should you have any questions.