The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has expanded its travel ban concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to bar certain foreign national travelers who have been physically present in Iran within the last 14 days from entering the U.S. The expanded ban took effect on March 2, 2020. The travel ban does not apply to U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents as well as a number of other exempt individuals such as crew members, diplomats and certain relatives of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The inclusion of foreign travelers from Iran follows a Presidential Proclamation to ban certain foreign nationals traveling from China from entering the U.S. effective February 2, 2020, if the travel to China occurred within the last 14 days as well as to impose certain quarantine restrictions on exempt travelers.
Foreign national travelers from Iran will be treated much the same way as travelers from China in accordance with a Presidential Proclamation of January 31, 2020. On February 2, 2020, the Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf directed that all flights from China and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days to be re-routed through 14 U.S. airports. At these 14 airports, DHS has established enhanced screening procedures and the capacity to quarantine passengers, if needed.
Exempt travelers who have been in Hubei province in China within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening. Exempt travelers who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk. Generally, foreign national travelers (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have traveled in China within 14 days of their arrival will be denied entry into the United States, which includes non-immigrants.
With regard to travelers from China:
- Exempt air travelers should be aware that if they have been to China in the last 14 days, they will be routed through one of fourteen airports to undergo enhanced health screenings.
- Any individual traveling from China who has either been in Hubei Province or other areas of the mainland and is showing symptoms associated with the virus will be screened and subject to mandatory quarantine by medical professionals at a nearby facility.
- If a traveler who spent time in China, but outside the Hubei province, is re-routed through one of the fourteen airports and shows no symptoms following a health screening, they will be re-booked to their destination and asked to “self-quarantine” at their homes.
Exempt travelers who traveled to Iran will now be subject to the same type of quarantine restrictions as those exempt individuals who traveled to China.