BREAKING NEWS: U.S. to Open Air Travel to Most Vaccinated Foreigners | INS The Immigration Specialists Inc.


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  • BREAKING NEWS: U.S. to Open Air Travel to Most Vaccinated Foreigners


    • The White House announced a new policy, expected to start in November 2021, that will require foreign nationals to show proof of full COVID vaccination in order to board a flight to the United States. The requirement will be in addition to the existing COVID testing requirement for all international travelers.
    • The White House plans to rescind the regional COVID travel bans currently in place for those recently physically present in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, or the United Kingdom. The bans will remain in place until officially rescinded, which should occur by early November.
    • Limited exceptions to the new vaccine requirement may apply to children, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, and certain individuals traveling for an important reason if they lack access to a vaccine in a timely manner.
    • Those permitted to board an airplane without vaccination, including unvaccinated U.S. citizens, will be required to undergo stricter pre- and post-travel COVID testing requirements.
    • The new policy is expected to ease travel for many, but processing backlogs at U.S. consulates could increase, which will impede travel for those who need a U.S. visa.

    A closer look

    Starting in early November, foreign nationals will be required to provide proof that they have received full COVID vaccination in order to board a flight to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide implementation details on which vaccines will be accepted.

    Limited exceptions are expected for children, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, and those traveling for an important reason who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner. However, these excepted travelers – including U.S. citizens – will be required to provide proof of a negative test taken within one day of their flight, and provide proof that they have purchased a viral test to be taken after their arrival in the United States, in order to board the aircraft.

    The new policy is also expected to include a contact tracing mechanism for airlines to implement with respect to their passengers.

    What the new policy means for travelers

    For foreign nationals not currently subject to any of the existing travel bans, the forthcoming policy adds an additional requirement to international travel; these individuals will need to provide proof of vaccination in addition to COVID testing. 

    Once the new policy takes effect, foreign nationals currently subject to any of the regional COVID travel bans, however, should see some easing of restrictions, depending on their circumstances:

    Foreign nationals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program or existing valid visa stamps: Vaccinated individuals traveling with a Visa Waver Program ESTA approval or on existing valid visas will not need to seek government approval of a national interest exception (NIE) to a regional COVID travel ban prior to travel. With proof of vaccination and testing, these foreign nationals will be permitted to travel using their valid documents. (F and M student visa holders subject to the travel bans already receive automatic NIEs and do not require advance approval before travel.)

    Foreign nationals who require a visa to travel: Those who require a new visa and would normally be subject to a travel ban will not need to seek an NIE in connection with their visa application, starting in early November. However, consular backlogs, delays and reduced operations persist worldwide and could worsen as more individuals seek visas after the new policy is implemented. These foreign nationals may still face difficulty obtaining a visa appointment if consular operations are limited in their area due to local COVID conditions.

    Until the new policy takes effect, those traveling from a country subject to a COVID-19 travel ban remain subject to the NIE requirement, unless otherwise exempt.

    Source: White House

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