On November 8, 2021 the regional COVID-19 travel bans will be lifted and a vaccination requirement for nonimmigrant visa holders entering the U.S. via airplane will take their place. Nonimmigrant visa holders will need to show proof of full vaccination upon boarding a U.S.-bound airplane abroad in addition to showing a negative COVID test within 3 days of travel.
Who is Affected?
Vaccinations will be required for nonimmigrant visa holders from all countries to the U.S., unless one of the exceptions to the requirement is met. For land-crossing from Mexico or Canada, a separate policy will be issued at a later time. Since October 1, 2021, green card medical exams have required proof of vaccination so immigrant visa holders should already be vaccinated upon entering the U.S.. U.S. citizens and green card holders are not subject to the vaccination requirement. For those applying for a visa abroad, the Executive Order allows a U.S. consulate abroad to issue a visa to a non-vaccinated applicant.
Exceptions to the Vaccination Requirement
Children under the age of 18, foreign nationals from countries with less than a 10 percent total vaccination rate in populations, and foreign nationals with medical contraindications are exempt from the vaccination requirement. Foreign nationals seeking humanitarian or emergency relief may be granted an exemption from the CDC, but must first apply through their local consulate, which will then transmit their applications to the CDC. Certain military members, diplomatic travelers, and persons deemed in the National Interest may also be exempt. Those who are exempt must still comply with certain COVID-related travel protocols such as testing and quarantine.
What to Expect after the Ban is Lifted
For those who choose to travel internationally and enter the U.S. after the ban is lifted, visa appointments will likely continued to be backlogged. Some U.S. consulates abroad may remain closed until their country-specific COVID rates decrease. Others may continue to service emergency-only visa appointments. The ban does not require all consulates to reopen for “business as usual”, so visa applicants should take this into consideration in making travel plans. As well, our firm anticipates longer wait times at the USCIS for I-94 extensions for those who choose to remain in the U.S. rather than travel abroad.
Our firm will continue to follow this development closely. If you would like to be included on future updates, subscribe to our firm’s updates by entering your email address on the right-hand panel.
This blog is made available by the The Immigration Group, PC for educational purposes only in order to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. For legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.
Victoria Gentry is the Managing Attorney with The Immigration Group, P.C. practicing exclusively in the areas of work visas and employment-based green cards. She enjoys assisting corporate clients with a variety of immigration needs including international transfers, visa eligibility, and the green card process. She works primarily with professionals in IT, Engineering, Finance, Pharmacy, and Insurance. She is a graduate of Belmont University College of Law and the Nashville Bar Foundation Leadership Forum.