UPDATE: Effective December 6, 2021, all travelers entering the United States by air, regardless of the travelers’ citizenship or vaccination status, must present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of boarding the plane to the United States or document that they have recently recovered from COVID-19. Details on the new requirement can be found on the CDC’s website: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 | CDC
On October 25, 2021, the Biden Administration issued a Proclamation requiring that most foreign nationals be fully vaccinated before boarding a flight to the United States. In addition to the new vaccination requirement, COVID-19 testing requirements will continue for U.S. and foreign travelers entering the United States. Notably, the Proclamation also announced an end to the travel restrictions put in place early in the COVID-19 pandemic, whereby individuals are not allowed to enter the United States if they had spent any time during the preceding 14 days in the Schengen area of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India. The Proclamation takes effect on November 8, 2021, and will remain in place until President Biden determines that it is appropriate to modify or terminate the policy.
Significantly, the new vaccination requirement does not apply to the following individuals:
- U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent residents (green card holders).
- Individuals under the age of 18.
- Individuals with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Individuals with valid visas who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability (exception does not apply to B-1 or B-2 visitor visas).
- Individuals participating in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials.
- Individuals granted a humanitarian or emergency exception.
- Individuals on diplomatic or official foreign government travel.
- Members of the Armed Forces or their spouses or minor children.
- Sea crew members traveling with a C-1 or D nonimmigrant visa.
- Individuals whose U.S. entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security.
Most unvaccinated foreign nationals who are allowed to enter the United States under one of the exceptions listed above will be subject upon arrival to COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and a vaccination requirement (applies to individuals who intend to remain in the United States for 60 days or longer).
Under current CDC guidance, the following vaccines will be accepted under the Proclamation: Janssen/J&J; Pfizer-BioNTech; Moderna; AstraZeneca; Covishield; BIBP/Sinopharm; and Sinovac.
Travelers must present proof of vaccination in one of the following forms:
- Verifiable Digital or Paper Records: Examples include a vaccination certificate with QR code, a digital pass via Smartphone application with QR code (e.g., UK National Health Service COVID Pass or EU Digital COVID Certificate).
- Non-Verifiable Paper Records: Examples include a printout of COVID-19 vaccination record, or COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at the national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider (e.g., CDC vaccination card).
- Non-Verifiable Digital Records: Examples include a digital photo of vaccination card or record, downloaded vaccine record or vaccination certificate from an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider), or a mobile phone application without a QR code.
All forms of proof of vaccination must include personal identifiers (at minimum, full name and date of birth) that match the personal identifiers on the traveler’s passport or other travel documents; the name of the source issuing the vaccination record (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider), the vaccine manufacturer; and the date(s) of vaccination.
The following COVID-19 testing requirements will apply to all travelers age 2 and older entering the United States by air, including U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. permanent residents, and foreign nationals:
- Travelers who can demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated must present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of boarding the plane to the United States.
- Travelers who cannot demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated must present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of boarding the plane to the United States.
- If traveling with a fully-vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child may test three days before boarding the plane to the United States. If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with an unvaccinated adult, the child will need to test within 1 day of boarding the plane to the United States.
- Acceptable COVID-19 tests include nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), such as a PCR test, as well as antigen tests.
Travelers will be required to submit an attestation confirming vaccination status to the airline before boarding the flight to the United States. Those who knowingly submit false information may be subject to fines, imprisonment, and other penalties. Airlines will be responsible for determining whether travelers meet the requirements of the Proclamation, as well as for providing traveler information to the CDC as needed for contact tracing purposes.
Further details are available here.
Note that, in November 2021, the United States will also begin welcoming fully-vaccinated travelers to enter by land or ferry from Canada and Mexico for non-essential purposes, including tourism.
Because U.S. entry requirements and restrictions change frequently, we recommend that all foreign nationals contact their immigration attorney before leaving the United States.