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Jan 22, 2021

Biden Administration Changes to International Travel Policy Leaves People Wondering If the Travel Restrictions Will Remain

David Spaulding


  • U.S. travel restrictions will be lifted unless the Biden Administration steps in.
  • The White House says it will not lift the travel restrictions.
  • COVID-19 testing and quarantine / isolation are not required for international travel.


The United States implemented travel restrictions early in the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic (“COVID-19”), barring entry of those present in China, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and the Schengen Area of Europe. These restrictions were promulgated as executive orders, pursuant to the President’s inherent powers and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Travel Restrictions Are Due to Be Lifted on January 26, 2021:

The January 18, 2021 “Presidential Proclamation Terminating Restrictions on Entry of Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil” will lift travel restrictions applied to Brazil, Ireland, Schengen Area countries, and the United Kingdom unless the Biden Administration intervenes.

The Biden Administration May Intervene to Keep the Travel Restrictions in Place:

As we discussed on January 20, 2021,there are good reasons to think that the Administration will prevent the January 20th Executive Order from taking effect and that travel restrictions will remain, perhaps even be expanded.

There are no official statements from the White House on this yet, though Jen Psaki, President Biden’s Press Secretary stated in a January 19, 2021 Tweet that “[w]ith the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”  Separately, Ms. Psaki issued a statement saying:  “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26, in fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The Administration Implemented Testing and Quarantine / Isolation Rules Yesterday:

In the meantime, the Biden Administration took a number of COVID-19 measures this week and the one most directly applicable to this issue is the January 21, 2021 “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.”  This Executive Order implements COVID-19 testing requirements for entry and self-quarantine / self-isolation of travelers entering the United States.

As things stand:

  • The travel restrictions are in place until next week and, if the Biden Administration does not interrupt their implementation, they’ll become effective on January 26, 2021.
  • The White House has indicated that travel restrictions will not be lifted on January 26, 2021, though whether or how the Biden Administration’s policies and procedures will differ from the previous administration’s has not been made public.
  • In addition to travel restrictions, COVID-19 testing protocols and quarantine / isolation will be required.

Green and Spiegel, An Immigration Law Firm with Nearly Sixty Years of Experience:

Green and Spiegel has been successful in obtaining NIE Waivers for foreign national employees and on behalf of their U.S. employers.  We are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to update our blog and provide E-Alerts to advise on the latest developments. As always, we strongly encourage you to reach out to our office if you have any questions regarding if or how these changes impact you and your family. Our office number is (215)395-8959, we can be reached via web.

DISCLAIMER: Please note, nothing posted here is legal advice, nor does reading anything here or communicating with the writer on or through social media form an attorney/client relationship. Choosing an attorney is a serious matter and should not be based solely or primarily on advertising or any other public communication of an attorney or law firm.

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