Biden Unveils New Vaccination and Testing Requirements for All Air Travelers to the United States | Arent Renard


The new rule eliminates all regional COVID travel restrictions imposed on travelers from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Iran, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Here are the basics of the new rule for air travel to the United States starting November 8.

U.S. citizens and green card holders

People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can board the plane to the United States with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test taken within 3 days before travel. Anyone who is not vaccinated must show a negative COVID test from a sample taken the day after the flight in order to board the plane to the United States. Travelers with a one-day requirement may want to complete an over-the-counter self-test with them on their trip to ensure they are able to get results in a timely manner.

Temporary foreign visitors

Foreign nationals entering the United States on temporary visas (such as tourist visas, student visas, and work visas) must prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a negative COVID test taken on a sample taken within the last 3 days, with very limited exceptions. Exceptions include children under the age of 18, some participants in the COVID-19 clinical trial, those with rare medical contraindications to COVID vaccines, those who have obtained an exception from the CDC director for reasons of emergency or humanitarian and those entering with a visa. who is not a B-1 (business visitor) or B-2 (tourist) visa and who come from countries where vaccine availability is limited (as shown by less than 10% of the total population being fully vaccinated ).

People who have not been vaccinated and who enter with an exemption must undertake to comply with public health precautions. Depending on the category of the exception, the traveler may be required to agree to undergo a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after arriving in the United States, self-quarantine for a full 7 days and self-quarantine. isolate if the post-arrival test result is positive or if he develops symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, if the traveler intends to stay in the United States for more than 60 days, they may need to prove that they have arranged for a full COVID-19 vaccine within 60 days. upon arrival in the United States, or as soon as medically appropriate, unless (for children) they are too young to be vaccinated, the vaccine is medically contraindicated for them, or the CDC director otherwise determines that a vaccine is not justified in this case.

To prove a medical contraindication, the traveler must present a letter from a licensed physician documenting the medical contraindication to the airline operator before boarding a flight to the United States. The letter must be on official letterhead that contains contact information for a licensed health care provider, must clearly state that the traveler has a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and name the COVID vaccine product -19 and medical condition, and the traveler’s personally identifiable information (at least their full name and date of birth) to confirm that the letter matches their passport.

To request an exemption for emergency or humanitarian reasons, the traveler must demonstrate that the trip is necessary to maintain their health and safety (for example, emergency medical evacuations) and that they are unable to access or complete the vaccination requirement before travel. Individuals requesting this exception should contact the United States Embassy or Consulate in or nearest to the country from which they are departing for the United States. The Embassy will then forward this information to the CDC for review.

The list of countries where vaccine availability is limited is available here.

Vaccines accepted

An individual is considered to be fully vaccinated: (a) 14 days after an accepted single dose COVID-19 vaccine (Janssen / J & J), (b) 14 days after a second dose of an accepted 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech , Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP / Sinopharm, Sinovac), (c) 14 days after receiving the full series of an active COVID-19 vaccine (not a placebo) in the AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials based in the United States, and (d) 14 days after receiving 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines, administered at least 17 days apart.

Proof of vaccination

Air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination to airline staff prior to boarding. Such evidence may be a paper recording, a photo of a paper recording or a digital recording. Examples include a vaccination certificate with QR1 code, a digital pass via a smartphone app with a QR1 code (for example, a COVID passport from the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, a digital COVID certificate from the European Union), a printing of COVID-19 vaccination record or COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine supplier (e.g. CDC vaccination card), digital photos of the card or file vaccination record, downloaded vaccination record or vaccination certificate from an official source (for example, a public health body, government agency or other approved vaccinator) and a mobile phone app without a QR code. All proof of vaccination must have personal identifiers (at a minimum, full name and date of birth) that match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport, the name of the official source issuing the dossier (for example, a public health, government agency or other approved vaccine supplier), and the vaccine manufacturer and date (s) of vaccination. If the documents are not in English, the traveler should check with their airline operator before travel to see if a translation is required.

Contact search and attestation forms

All air travelers will be required to complete contact tracing and certification forms before boarding the aircraft to the United States. Travelers will be required to provide at least their full name, phone number, email address, and the address where they can be reached in the United States. They must also sign a certificate attesting to the completeness and accuracy of their tests, their vaccination and their contact details.

Children under two

Children under 2 are exempt from COVID testing requirements. All other children must follow the above testing requirements.


Air travel from Canada will follow the above rules. For entry through land and ferry points of entry (POE), there will be a two-phase approach. First, from November 8, “non-essential” travel (like tourism) of foreign nationals will reopen, but only for those who can prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “Essential” travel will continue to be permitted without changes to current protocols, and no proof of vaccination will be required. US citizens and green card holders are considered “essential” travelers. Second, starting in early January 2022, all inbound foreign travelers crossing U.S. land or sea ports of entry – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – must prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This phased approach will allow time for essential travelers such as truckers, students and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

Exceptions of national interest and issuance of visas

As the new rule eliminates regional COVID travel restrictions, National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) (which were a way to request an exception to those travel restrictions) are also being removed as of November 8. Many foreign nationals in countries with COVID travel restrictions used the NIE system to obtain expedited visa appointments. This will not be available after November 8. In the future, they will need to request an “emergency” appointment (assuming adequate emergency circumstances exist). This will be a challenge for foreign travelers (and US employers needing their foreign workers in the US) as US consulates and embassies still have limited visa services due to the pandemic, and it has taken long periods (often several months) to obtain a visa appointment. Foreign nationals should use the interview waiver system whenever they are eligible so that they can renew their visa by mail / drop box rather than waiting for an in-person visa appointment. Individuals are generally eligible if they apply for a renewal of a visa in the same category, at the same consulate / embassy, ​​and the previous visa is valid or has expired within the last 24 months.

Travel and visa procedures are constantly evolving. Individuals should check the procedures in place before traveling.

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