Since January 31, 2020, President Trump has signed several presidential proclamations restricting or prohibiting travel to various countries and imposing other restrictions because of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and federal agencies have followed suit. This constantly evolving situation has left many companies confused about what travel bans exist and how long these travel restrictions will last.
Europe Travel Proclamation
Most recently, on March 11, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation entitled Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus,which suspends travel for most foreign nationals from 26 European countries in the Schengen Area to the United States effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT, on Friday, March 13, 2020. The travel suspension is expected to last for at least 30 days.
Who does this Proclamation effect?
The travel restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents of the United States, the immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, or other excluded groups listed below. Instead, it applies to foreign nationals that have been in the 26 Schengen countries at any point during the 14-day period prior to their arrival to the United States. Those Schengen countries are: 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.
According to this proclamation, impacted foreign nationals need to enter the United States prior to 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 13, 2020, or they will be unable to do so for at least 30 days (or possibly longer, should the suspension be extended). While the proclamation specifically states that it does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m., it is recommended that impacted foreign nationals arrive prior to that deadline to minimize the potential risk of difficulties during entry.
Are there any exceptions to this Proclamation?
The proclamation provides numerous exceptions, specifying that it does not apply to:
- Any lawful permanent resident of the United States (as previously mentioned);
- Any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- Any alien 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 alien 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 alien 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 alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- Any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
- Any alien:
- 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); or
- Whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
- Any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;
- Any alien whose entry would further important U.S. 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;
- Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to announce further details on the implementation of this new proclamation. It also appears that U.S. Citizen and permanent resident passengers whose flights are from one of the Schengen countries may be required to enter the United States through select airports where they will undergo enhanced health screening and receive instructions on quarantine procedures if required.
Iran Travel Proclamation
On February 29, 2020, the Presidential Proclamation entitled Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus suspended entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This ban has been in effect since March 2, 2020, and it has the same list of excepted people as the European ban (listed above).
China Travel Proclamation
On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9984, which is entitled Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus and Other Appropriate Measures to Address this Risk. This proclamation suspended entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This travel ban has been in effect since February 2, 2020, and states it will remain in effect until terminated by President Trump.
Additionally, DHS imposed the following restrictions on U.S. citizens returning from travels in China:
- Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they have been provided proper medical care and health screening; and
- Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been anywhere else in mainland China in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will undergo “proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry,” and up to 14 days of monitored “self-quarantine” to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.
On February 8, 2020, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China issued a notice entitled Mission China Regular Visa Services Temporarily Suspended, which stated “[a]s of February 10, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang are suspended. Due to the ongoing situation relating to the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services.” The Department of State confirmed that this notice currently remains in effect.
Airports Designated for Health Screening
Additionally, joint U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Federal Register notices have recently announced that DHS has directed all operators of aircraft to ensure that all flights carrying persons (including U.S. citizens and permanent residents and others not subject to any of the three bans) who have recently traveled from, or were otherwise present within, the People’s Republic of China or the Islamic Republic of Iran to only land at one of the airports listed below. Recent U.S. travelers to European Schengen countries may also be subject to the same protocol.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York;
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois;
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California;
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington;
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii;
- Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California;
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia;
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia;
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey;
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas; and
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan.
Travel Restrictions and Warnings Regarding Other Countries
Finally, the CDC has issued travel warnings regarding other countries facing COVID-19 outbreaks. At this time, CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to 29 countries. The CDC is also maintaining up-to-date information regarding the risk of COVID-19 by country. The CDC recommends that travelers review and follow the Centers for Disease Control’s various guidelines regarding traveling and the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.