Travel bans will be discontinued in November to be replaced by proof of vaccination

Biden administration officials shared the following information.

International Travel Announcement

Today, the President is announcing that beginning in early November, the United States will be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States, by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated. This policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November, and will be moving to a consistent, stringent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States.

Specifically:

  • Starting in early November, foreign nationals traveling to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to show proof of vaccination prior to boarding an airplane;
     
  • The current requirement for everyone to show proof of a negative test taken within 3 days of boarding a flight will remain in place for all fully vaccinated travelers.
     
  • CDC will continue to strongly recommend against air travel by Americans who are not fully vaccinated; however, all unvaccinated travelers who return to the United States and are not fully vaccinated will be required to, prior to boarding an airplane:
    • Provide proof of a negative test result taken within one day of their departure;
    • Provide proof that they have purchased a viral test to be taken after arrival.
       
  • CDC will also issue a Contact Tracing Order that will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the United States and to provide that information promptly to CDC upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.
     
  • These requirements will apply globally.
     

This policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November, and will be moving to a consistent, stringent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States.

Q&A

Q: Why have you kept the previous policies in place for so long? Why make this change now? What changed between now and January when you took over this system and kept it in place for 8 months?

  • Maintaining the prior system while vaccinations ramped up around the world was the most effective way to keep Americans safe.
  • Now, nearly 6 billion shots have been given globally and dozens of countries have strong vaccination rates.
  • This new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States, by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated.

Q: Why are you announcing it now if it won’t be active until November? What are the next steps?

  • Announcing the changes now gives the appropriate amount of time for strong implementation.
  • Airlines and other private businesses need some lead time to make business decisions about travel later in the year and to prepare for putting the changes in place.
  • CDC will be replacing the current Global Testing Order with an updated approach that requires vaccination for foreign nationals, tightens the pre-departure testing requirements, and adds a post-arrival testing requirement for unvaccinated travelers. They will also be issuing a new Contact Tracing Order.
  • DHS, FAA, and State will also be working to develop the directives and processes for implementing these changes via the boarding process with airlines and through consular affairs offices.
  • So, we are going to take the time to get this right.

Q: Won’t this change increase travel to the United States? Doesn’t that add to risk at a time when hospitals are overflowing in many parts of the country?

  • This enhances the protections for the American people by requiring ALL foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated before boarding a plane to come to the United States, with very limited exceptions.
  • It will also require American citizens and residents who are not vaccinated to test within a day of boarding a plane rather than three days, which will provide stronger protections against infected people boarding planes.

Q: Isn’t this just an admission that the travel restrictions do not make sense?

  • Maintaining the prior system while vaccinations ramped up around the world was the most effective way to keep Americans safe.
  • Now, nearly 6 billion shots have been given globally and dozens of countries have strong vaccination rates.
  • This new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States, by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated.

Q: What proof of vaccination status will you accept?

  • We will be requiring proof of vaccination status to be presented before boarding.
  • The type of proof required will be worked out as the detailed implementation plan is developed in the coming weeks.

Q: What vaccines will you accept?

  • We will look to CDC to guide which vaccines will be accepted, as part of their standard role in determining who is considered fully vaccinated for the purposes of recommended or required international travel protocols.

Q: Are you planning to end Title 19 restrictions on non-essential travel at the land border?

  • Title 19 is being extended for another month through October 21, and we do not have further updates to that policy at this time.

Q: What are you doing to step up mitigation at the land border, if anything? Or instead, are you going to have an inconsistency where unvaccinated people can cross the land border but not get on a plane?

  • Today, the administration is announcing a move to a safer and more harmonized global approach to international inbound air travel, and our focus will be on implementing those changes.
  • We do not have any updates to the land border policies at this time.

Q: Who will be excepted from the full vaccination requirement for foreign nationals?

  • The exceptions will be very narrow, 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. But let me stress that these will be very limited exceptions.
  • And we will be requiring that people who receive these very limited exceptions agree to get vaccinated upon arrival.

Q: Won’t requiring vaccination be highly inequitable, especially for countries with low vaccine access?

  • We believe that the vast majority of people who can travel internationally to the U.S. will be able to access a vaccine.
  • For those who have a compelling and urgent reason to come to the United States and are not able to access a vaccine in a timely manner prior to departure, we will have in place very limited exceptions for which they can apply.
  • And we will be requiring that people who receive these very limited exceptions agree to get vaccinated upon arrival.

Q: What additional mitigation steps are you taking beyond the vaccination requirement?

  • We have extended the masking order through January 18, 2022.
  • CDC will also be stepping up pre-departure and post-arrival testing requirements.
  • CDC will also be putting in place a contact tracing order.

Q: Why not take down 212(f) now?

  • We are taking down 212(f) for the countries to which it applies today concurrent with the early November start of the new system.

Q: When will the policies be finalized and made public?

  • We anticipate these policies will be effective by early November.

Comments

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Arjun Singh (not verified) on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 18:27 Permalink

Will consulate start issuing the fresh/new visa for the tourists?

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Rajiv S. Khanna on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 07:46 Permalink In reply to by Arjun Singh (not verified)

We must not confuse lifting of the travel ban with the availability of the consulates to issue visas. Right now, the situation of visa availability is still uncertain.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Ashish (not verified) on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 22:02 Permalink

Specifically for the Indians working in US on F1 OPT and H1B, can we now travel to India without the fear of whether we will be able to come back to the US? Provided we are fully vaccinated.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Hi, I am currently working on a F-1 visa and started my OPT in June. My employer would be applying for my H1B in 2022. Is it ok for me to travel to India right now? Will I face any problems while returning back? Also, for traveling to India what legal docs or formalities are needed?

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Akhil M (not verified) on Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:32 Permalink

Firstly, thanks for such a detailed article. I have an upcoming first time H1B stamping appointment on October 21st. Would I still be needing an NIE letter from my company for visa interview? Considering that bans will be lifted from early November. Don’t see a reason why the visa officers would still need to see an NIE support letter towards the end of October.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

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