In a press conference scheduled on September 20, 2021, the White House announced that starting in early November, it will rescind the current COVID-19 related travel bans implemented for travelers from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

Currently, foreign nationals who have been physically present in the affected countries (China, Iran, the Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India) in the last 14 days are barred from traveling directly to the U.S. Our previous blog post provided a summary of these COVID-19 related travel bans and exceptions.

In place of these bans, all foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. by air (including those who were subject to the COVID-19 related travel bans) will be required to prove that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide information regarding which vaccines will be accepted.

According to the White House, there will be very limited exceptions to the full vaccination requirement, such as for children; COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants; and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner. Foreign nationals who are exempted from the vaccine requirement may be required to be vaccinated upon arrival. The White House will release an official policy document regarding this new vaccination requirement by November.

The White House announcement does not cover international travel by land. The current travel restrictions between the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders are still in place and are currently valid until October 21, 2021.

For those who need to apply for a new visa to travel to the U.S., they may continue to experience difficulties scheduling a visa appointment after the new policy takes effect, since consular operations may be limited in their area due to local COVID conditions. The Harris Beach immigration team is closely monitoring the implementation of the new vaccination policy and will issue further alerts when available.

Our Immigration Law Practice Group includes immigration attorneys that work across New York state in our Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse offices. Our immigration lawyers focus on strategies – including immigrant visas for permanent U.S. resident status and temporary visas for foreign nationals – to ensure that companies are able to hire, transfer, and retain the brightest and best non-U.S. talent.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.