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The New Framework for International Travel is Here!

Immigration Law

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Starting on November 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the U.S. Very limited exceptions for the vaccine requirement exist. It is important to note that the airlines will be required to undertake vaccine checks – except delays in travel as the airlines get used to verifying vaccine status.

Further there will be enhanced testing rules for travelers. Unvaccinated U.S. Citizen travelers returning to the U.S. will have to provide a negative test within one day of traveling. Vaccinated travelers will still have to comply with the current testing rules which is a negative test within three days of travel. Unvaccinated U.S. Citizens should plan their international travel carefully or consider vaccination. It is important to note that the U.S. still accepts PCR and antigen or rapid tests which does make it easier for travelers to comply with the shorter timeframe.

What about Children?

Children under 18 are excepted from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers, given both the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination, as well as the global variability in access to vaccination for older children who are eligible to be vaccinated. Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test.

The rules for child testing have changed and unvaccinated U.S. Citizen parents should take note. If traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults). If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure.

Exceptions to the rule?

According to the White House there are a very limited set of exceptions from the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals. These include exceptions for children under 18, certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, those with medical contraindications to the vaccines, those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons (with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel), those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC), and other very narrow categories.

It is likely that these exceptions will be applied in very limited circumstances. No word is given of how exceptions will be applied for – potential through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Ports of Entry.

The Biden Administration has announced the end of travel restrictions for specific countries put in place in 2020 in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. They will be replacing the travel restrictions with a new framework to ease travel for vaccinated individuals. Starting on November 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the U.S. Very limited exceptions for the vaccine requirement exist. It is important to note that the airlines will be required to undertake vaccine checks – except delays in travel as the airlines get used to verifying vaccine status.

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