Travel with Caution: Biden’s Recent COVID-19 Travel Restrictions


As we reach a year of combatting COVID-19, a vaccine has finally emerged, but with that vaccine, come distribution challenges, and, additionally, the virus has mutated and created a new hazard. Traveling for business and pleasure seem like experiences of the past. However, for some, not all forms of travel can be canceled or postponed. The President’s desire to combat the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in new and broadened COVID-19 related travel restrictions. 

First, the new administration released Presidential Proclamation 10141 revoking the pre-COVID-19 Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations which, most recently, severely restricted immigrants and non-immigrants from Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Additionally, the new administration reversed the termination of COVID-19 related travel restrictions from certain countries and regions and expanded country and region-specific limitations to combat the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Under the Presidential Proclamation, immigrants and non-immigrants who have been physically present in one of the enumerated restricted countries or regions 14 days prior to coming to the United States will be denied entry. The countries and regions include the Schengen Area (which is comprised of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa. This suspension of entry does not apply to:

  • United States citizens or United States noncitizen nationals;
  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any noncitizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • any noncitizen who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  • any noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • any noncitizen traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
  • any noncitizen seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories);
  • any noncitizen whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
  • any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and any noncitizen who is a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • any noncitizen whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee.

Noncitizens traveling from one of the enumerated countries and regions who do not fall within one of the exceptions above would have to show their entry would be in the national interest of the United States by obtaining a National Interest Exception (NIE) from the Department of State prior to entry. NIEs are usually reserved for and granted to students, certain business professionals, food workers, COVID-19 responders, and those entering for humanitarian, public health, and national security. This proclamation will be reviewed monthly to determine whether restrictions should be extended, modified, or terminated.

The President has also put in place restrictions that apply to all travelers. All domestic travelers will now be required to wear a mask in compliance with the CDC’s guidelines in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, intercity bus services, and other forms of public and shared modes of transportation. International air travelers will be required to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days prior to entry into the United States. The test must be performed using a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) and the results must include the identity of the traveler, when the specimen for the test was collected, and the type of test. Additionally, international travelers are required to comply with CDC guidelines, including, getting tested 3 to 5 days after arrival and quarantining 7 days following arrival. Guidance for land and sea travel are to be released as well.

As the public health crisis changes, it is expected that the guidelines and restrictions on travel will also change. Prior to any type of travel, it is recommended that you check the state and/or country specific restrictions for your destination and home state and/or country.   

For more information on these restrictions or other travel updates contact any member of the Butzel Long Immigration Practice Group.

Yasmeen Farran

Linda Armstrong

Clara DeMatteis Mager

Reggie Pacis

Bushra Malik

Amany Kasham

He Xian

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