2021-09-23 01:07:21 The U.S. Is Lifting Its Travel Ban. Who Is Allowed to Visit?
The U.S. Is Lifting Its Travel Ban. Who Is Allowed to Visit?
The White House announced on Monday that the ban on most travelers from the European Union, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India will be lifted in November, as long as they can show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test.
Many countries whose citizens had previously been barred from entering the United States directly — unless they went through inconvenient, and often costly, maneuvers — applauded the new rules.
It will, for example, put an end to one of the more unusual pandemic workarounds: travelers from prohibited countries spending two weeks in an intermediate country — usually Mexico or the Dominican Republic — and then obtaining a negative coronavirus test there before flying to the United States. (Travelers were not required to quarantine while visiting this other country; simply spending 14 days prior to entry in a destination that was not on the banned list granted them travel privileges.)
Fabienne Walther, 28, of Switzerland, has assisted approximately 20 Europeans in entering the United States through Mexico over the last six months. Some have rented a room in her Playa del Carmen temporary residence. In other cases, she simply offered moral support and restaurant recommendations.
“The whole travel through Mexico thing is a joke,” she said, pointing out that contracting the coronavirus is actually more likely in the Cancn area than in the hometowns of many of the travelers she has assisted.
The Mexico workaround will soon become obsolete. However, the new policy, which applies to all international air travelers, has raised a number of concerns. Many details are still being worked out, but here is an overview of what is known so far about how the new policy will affect entry into the United States.
How do the new rules affect people from banned countries?
Almost all visitors from the banned countries, including those from the European Union and a few others, have been barred from traveling directly to the United States for the past 18 months. This policy will be phased out in early November, according to Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, who announced it on Monday. Individuals from these countries can travel to the United States as they did before the pandemic as long as they have proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test within three days of boarding a flight. There will be no need for quarantine.
The C.D.C. will also issue an order directing airlines to collect travelers’ phone numbers and email addresses for a new contact-tracing system. The contact tracing system’s specifics have yet to be revealed.
Non-citizens of the United States who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to enter the country.
On what day in November do the rules go into effect?
The Biden Administration has not yet indicated when in November the new rules will be in place.
What does fully vaccinated mean? Which vaccines will be accepted?
A CDC spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency is still in the “regulatory process,” but that people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as those manufactured by AstraZeneca and Oxford, will also be valid, according to the C.D.C.
How do the new rules affect people from countries that were not on the banned list?
The new policy applies to anyone who is not a US citizen, including citizens of Japan, Singapore, Mexico, and many other countries whose citizens have been able to fly to the US during the pandemic. Though vaccination status does not currently affect whether or not these individuals can enter the United States, only fully vaccinated travelers will be permitted to enter the country in November.
These passengers must already show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of boarding a flight. This requirement will remain in place.
The policy applies to all “foreign nationals,” which means that long-term residents of the United States who are not American citizens will be unable to leave and then re-enter the country unless fully vaccinated.
What about U.S. citizens?
The vaccination requirement does not apply to citizens of the United States. However, the new policy requires Americans to provide proof of a negative result from a test taken within one day of their return flight to the United States, as well as to test again after landing.
What about children and others who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons?
Most countries that require vaccination for entry make exceptions for children who are too young to be vaccinated. The United States appears likely to follow suit, but the White House has declined to comment on the specifics of this policy. It is unknown what other exceptions will be made.
What about people coming from Canada and Mexico? If travelers go through the land border, do they have to be vaccinated?
Travelers from Canada and Mexico will face the same restrictions as those from other countries: they must be fully vaccinated, have a negative coronavirus test, and provide personal information for contact tracing. The land borders with Canada and Mexico are currently closed to all but essential travel, a policy that is expected to last until at least Oct. 21.
According to Mr. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, the new policy for international visitors only applies to people boarding an airplane. As a result, an unvaccinated person may still be able to enter the United States by land if their reason for travel is deemed essential. The US Embassy and Consulates in Canada define “essential” as “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.”
Mr. Zients declined to comment on the future of the land-border restrictions after Oct. 21, when the current policy expires.
What restrictions on entering the United States will remain come November?
Even before the pandemic, it was difficult for people from many parts of the world to enter the United States. One of the reasons the travel ban had such a large impact was that it applied to many of the countries whose citizens had previously avoided U.S. visa requirements and had the easiest time entering the country.
The new policy does not change who can enter the United States without a visa, nor does it change the consequences for violating visa rules, such as staying in the country for longer than permitted.
However, it severely restricts who can enter the United States. Only 4% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated; in many parts of Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, less than a third of residents are fully vaccinated. In some cases, people choose not to be vaccinated; in others, people simply do not have access to vaccines. These people, for whatever reason, will no longer be able to travel to the United States.