By Kevin Tung
President Biden has reinstated COVID-19 travel bans for travelers from Brazil, the United Kingdom, European Schengen area countries, and Ireland. Biden has also issued a new travel ban for individuals from South Africa, effective January 30. Foreign nationals may not enter the United States if they have been physically present in any of the banned countries during the previous 14 days. President Biden will review the bans every 30 days.
COVID-19 travel bans impact travelers who have been physically present in over 30 countries, which also include Iran and China. In a separate pandemic safety measure, international travelers entering the United States will also need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or recovery from the virus, starting January 26, 2021.
Travel ban exemptions
Certain exemptions are available to the COVID-19 travel ban. Exempted individuals may be subject to additional screening upon entry into the United States. Individuals who are exempt from the travel ban include:
- US citizens and nationals, and their spouses.
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders), and their spouses.
- Foreign nationals who are related to US citizens or lawful permanent residents in the following ways:
- Parents or legal guardians, where the child is unmarried and under 21.
- Siblings, where both individuals are unmarried and under 21.
- Child, foster child, ward, or prospective adoptee on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa.
- Foreign nationals who have been invited by the US government to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Foreign national air or sea crew members.
- Certain nonimmigrant visa holders on A, C, G, NATO, or E-1 (employees of TECO or TECRO) visas, and some of their immediate family members.
- Foreign nationals whose entry would benefit the US national interest or law enforcement objectives.
- Members of the US armed forces, their spouses, and their children.
The ban no longer includes an exemption for foreign nationals that do not pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
next steps for the ban
Since South Africa will join the list of banned countries on January 30, businesses should quickly consider the travel plans of employees who may be impacted and determine next steps with the help of their immigration attorney.
The Biden administration has requested the CDC to consider recommendations for a self-quarantine for all travelers entering the US, which could also impact business travelers.
We will provide updates to United States COVID-19 travel policy as soon as they are available. For case-specific questions, please contact your trusted Chugh, LLP attorney.