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Travel Updates

January 11, 2022
Restrictions on Travelers from Southern African Countries Lifted
Temporary travel restrictions the Biden administration imposed in November on foreign travelers from South Africa and seven other countries in the region, due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, were lifted on December 31, 2021.

January 11, 2022
CBP Confirms Lifting of Temporary Travel Restrictions Between the United States and Canada, Mexico
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will lift temporary restrictions that applied to non-essential travel by fully vaccinated travelers with proof of COVID-19 vaccination status entering via land ports and ferry service along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.

December 16, 2021
Increased Travel Restrictions in Response to ‘Omicron’
President Biden said that most travelers (excluding U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) who had been in any of eight countries in southern Africa for the prior 14 days would be barred from entry into the United States.

November 15, 2021
Travel Restrictions Continue at Land Border Ports of Entry with Mexico
The Department of Homeland Security announced it will continue to temporarily limit non-essential travel of individuals from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry  along the U.S.-Mexico border until January 21, 2022.

November 15, 2021
CDC Issues Order for Pre-Departure COVID-19 Regulations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order, effective November 8, 2021, with requirements for air passengers two years of age and older boarding flights to the United States.

June 15, 2021
National Interest Exception Criteria for Travelers from COVID-19-Restricted Countries
Department of State expanded the National Interest Exception criteria for individuals subject to proclamations restricting travel to the United States due to physical presence in China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

March 16, 2021
State Department Releases Guidance for Those Previously Refused Visas Under Travel Bans
The Department issued guidance in response to President Biden’s signing of two proclamations that ended travel bans on certain nationals, based on visa type, from Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela and Yemen.

March 16, 2021
Department of State Issues New Guidance on Exceptions for Travelers from Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland
The Department of State rescinded the previous national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamation (PP) 10143 related to the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

February 10, 2021
President Biden Signs Proclamation Continuing Suspension of Entry for Certain Travelers, Adding South Africa; DOS Provides Related Info
President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, China and Iran, and expanding restrictions to include travelers from South Africa.

February 10, 2021
President Biden Orders COVID-19 Related Public Health Measures for Domestic and International Travelers

Among other things, the order requires a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before boarding a flight to the United States for most travelers.

January 15, 2021
Effective January 26, the U.S. Will Require Negative COVID-19 Tests From International Passengers Arriving by Air
Effective January 26, 2021, a new CDC policy will require all international air passengers, including American citizens, to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding international flights to the United States. The COVID-19 test must be taken within three days prior to departure.

January 11, 2021
No Change in Spring 2021 Guidance for International Students
A spokesperson for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that spring 2021 guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic for international students in programs in “hybrid” or online modes will remain the same as before.

January 11, 2021
I-9 Flexibility Extended to January 31
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced an additional 30-day extension to January 31, 2021, of flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

October 13, 2020
State Department Issues Guidance on National Interest Exceptions for Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland 
DOS recently released guidance on national interest exceptions for travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland. Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students and journalists may qualify for national interest exceptions under related Presidential Proclamations.

October 13, 2020
CBP Publishes Notices Extending Travel Restrictions at Land Ports of Entry Between the United States and Canada, Mexico
CBP issued notices extending temporary restrictions on travel of individuals from Canada and Mexico into the United States along land ports of entry at the border. Such travel is limited to “essential travel,” as defined in the notice, effective through October 21, 2020.

September 28, 2020
Non-Essential Travel Limited Across Land Borders
DHS said the measures were part of a collaborative “North American” approach intended to limit the further spread of coronavirus.

August 12, 2020
National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations Suspending Certain Immigrants and Nonimmigrants
On June 22, President Trump signed Presidential Proclamation 10052, which suspended the entry of certain immigrant visa applicants through December 31, 2020, including applicants for H-1B, H-2B and L-1 visas; J-1 visa applicants participating in the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair or summer work travel programs; and any spouses or children of covered applicants applying for H-4, L-2 or J-2 visas.

July 9, 2020
State Department Faces Backlog in ‘Phase One’ Reopening of U.S. Passport Operations
DOS reportedly faced a backlog of approximately 1.7 million applications as it began opening passport agencies and centers under Phase One of its reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 3, 2020
Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation on May 29, 2020, restricting the entry of certain graduate students and researchers from China. This proclamation bars the issuance of visas or entry to the U.S. of Chinese students in “F” or “J” status in graduate-level programs if they have been associated with Chinese entities involved with the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” This strategy is defined as “actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.”

The proclamation also asks the State Department to consider using its visa revocation authority to revoke previously issued F or J visas. It is unclear whether the proclamation will apply to students seeking to enter the U.S. in order to work under post-graduation Optional Practical Training (OPT). A visa revocation would prevent the student from traveling into the U.S. but would not impact the student’s legal immigration status in the U.S.

It should be noted that this proclamation impacts only a limited group of Chinese students who received funding from, currently or previously were employed by, studied at, conducted research at or on behalf of an institution that supports China’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” The proclamation does not apply to Chinese nationals seeking to pursue undergraduate studies in the U.S., any Chinese nationals who are studying or conducting research in a field that does not contribute to China’s military-civil fusion strategy, anyone who is a U.S. lawful permanent resident, the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the spouse of child or a member of the U.S. armed forces, an asylum-seeker, or one whose work is found to be in the U.S. national interest or would meet certain U.S. law enforcement objectives.

Due to COVID-19, the worldwide suspension of visa processing remains in effect, and it is not clear when visa processing will be resumed in China or anywhere else. Determinations by the U.S. State Department as to whether a student will be impacted by this proclamation will likely result in delays on applications by certain new graduate students from China.

May 15, 2020
United States Immigrant Entry Ban, With Exceptions
A proclamation from the President states that the rationale is to address “excess labor supply” and displacement of U.S. workers. Additional measures regarding nonimmigrant visas are possible.

April 23, 2020
President Trump has issued a proclamation suspending entry for certain immigrants today, April 23, 2020. The president has done so under the authority of the Immigration and Nationality Act sections 212(f) and 215(a) and 3 U.S.C. section 301, effective immediately. It suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant for a period of sixty days as of this date who:

  • is outside the United States;
  • does not have a valid immigrant visa; and
  • does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole document that permits travel to the U.S.)

The following categories are exempted from the proclamation:

  1. lawful permanent residents (LPR);
  2. individuals, and their spouses or children, seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or their respective designees);
  3. individuals applying for an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program;
  4. spouses of U.S. citizens; and
  5. children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa.

Please note that this proclamation only relates to immigrants. Those entering as non-immigrants on a valid visa or through the visa waiver program are permitted to do so as long as travel is permitted. Please contact your immigration team with any further questions.

COVID-19 Immigration Updates

Fredrikson & Byron’s COVID-19 Resource Center