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Oct 26, 2021

The Executive Order Has Been Published and, for the Vaccinated, the Travel Restrictions Will Be Revoked as of November 8, 2021

David Spaulding

Takeaways:

  • The Biden Administration has published a new COVID-19 air travel policy, revoking the travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • Unvaccinated foreign nationals may still be able to enter the United States but will need to follow specific procedures to do so.
  • Unlike prior COVID-19 executive orders, the new policy applies to all foreign nationals, not only those who have been in specific countries.

Background:

For much of the pandemic, noncitizens seeking to fly to the U.S. from specific countries were barred from doing so pursuant to executive orders, generally referred to as “Travel Restrictions.”  On November 8, 2021, the Administration will revoke the Travel Restrictions and institute a policy which reopens air travel to the U.S. globally, restricting only those who are not vaccinated against the COVID-19.

Citation:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/10/25/a-proclamation-on-advancing-the-safe-resumption-of-global-travel-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

With this policy shift, foreign nationals will not be barred from flying to the U.S. if they have been in specific countries.  Instead, their admissibility will rest on whether they have been vaccinated or not and, if they have not, whether compliance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols will provide a waiver of the requirement that the traveler be vaccinated before traveling to the United States.

The White House Had Stated that the Travel Restrictions Would End in November and a Formal Policy Promulgation Was Expected:

Kevin Munoz is a Biden Administration Assistant Press Secretary and he announced significant changes to the U.S. COVID-19 travel restrictions via tweet on October 15, 2021:

The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8.  This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel.  This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.

The October 25, 2021 “Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic” proclamation (“Proclamation”) takes precedence over that announcement. The Proclamation will take effect on November 8, 2021, at which time, all prior COVID-19 travel restrictions will be revoked.

Proclamation Section 2 Bars Entry of Unvaccinated Persons Unless they Agree to Be Tested, to Self-Isolate, and to Be Vaccinated:

Detailed guidance from the CDC is needed to flesh these points out but the Proclamation states that foreign nationals who are not vaccinated may travel to the United States after November 8, 2021, only if they are tested before and after arrival, self-isolate, and submit to vaccination within sixty (60) days of entry to the United States. 

Conclusion:

One of the features of Executive Orders is that they come into being by fiat and can be terminated in a like manner.  As applied, the U.S. government has enforced Travel Restrictions for much of the pandemic and has shifted policy to rest on vaccination status rather than geographic risk analysis.  This negates the need for any waivers or prior travel permissions for fully vaccinated travelers.  The process for traveling if one has not been vaccinated remains to be seen.  Stay tuned for updates.

Green and Spiegel, An Immigration Law Firm with Six Decades of Experience:

Green and Spiegel is 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, your business, 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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