Biden Administration Plans to Rescind COVID-19 Travel Bans and Instead Require Proof of Vaccination

The Biden administration will be easing travel restrictions on all fully vaccinated international travelers for air travel and land borders effective on November 8, 2021.

On October 13, 2021, DHS Secretary Mayorkas announced that DHS will lift Title 19 restrictions for land and ferry border crossings from Canada and Mexico in two phases. In early November 2021, consistent with the rescission of the INA 212(f) COVID-19 entry bans for air travelers, DHS will first allow non-essential travel across the land and ferry borders for fully vaccinated individuals, while still allowing essential travel for unvaccinated individuals. In early January 2022, DHS will then require all foreign travelers, whether essential or not, to be fully vaccinated. There will be limited exceptions to these requirements, such as for children. This announcement only applies to regular land and ferry border crossings and does not lift the Title 42 restrictions for irregular land and ferry border crossings.

On October 11, 2021 it was confirmed via a CDC spokesperson that only vaccines that are approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or listed for emergency use by World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted for international travelers seeking to travel to the United States.

As of the date of this update, the accepted vaccines are as follows:

  1. FDA Authorized/Approved: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech
  2. WHO Approved: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

While much is not yet known about the implementation of the administration’s new travel requirements, it appears that as vaccines are added to the approved/authorized list by either the FDA or WHO, it will subsequently be accepted for international travelers. AILA will continue to provide additional updates on the implementation of these new requirements.

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Biden to Rescind COVID-19 Travel Bans and Require Proof of Vaccination

President Biden announced that it is plans to ease travel restrictions on all international travelers coming into the United States beginning in early November 2021. The White House will rescind the current geographic COVID-19 related travel bans implemented for individuals from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India and will instead move forward with solutions to deter the spread of COVID-19 based on individuals, rather than restrictions placed on entire countries or regions.

In place of these bans, all international travelers will be required to prove that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the United States. The CDC will provide information regarding which vaccines will be accepted.

Limited exceptions such as for children; COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants; and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner will be available. Individuals who are exempted from the vaccine requirement may be required to be vaccinated upon arrival.

The administration will also be making additional recommendations to stop the spread of COVID-19, including 1) continuing the mask mandate through January 18, 2022; 2) expanding pre-departure and post-arrival testing requirements; and 3) implanting a contact tracing order for airlines.

The administration said it needs until early November to establish processes and procedures to fully implement this decision. (more…)