FAQ: International Travel
These materials are provided solely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon the information contained in this FAQ without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney.
(Updated as of November 8, 2022)
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact global international travel and the acquisition of U.S. visas. Please consult our Immigration Law Updates (https://www.wsmimmigration.com/immigration-law-updates/) and specific U.S. Consulate sites for the most up-to-date information and processes for visa stamp acquisition and re-entry. Unfortunately, U.S. Consulates abroad remain understaffed and demand for services is high. As a result, Consulates may be closed, scheduled appointments may be delayed or cancelled, and visa issuance could be stalled for administrative processing.
Further, international travel may be complicated by a permanent residency application or non-immigrant visa extension process. International travel should be undertaken only after full consideration of the relevant risks. Please note that the below FAQ covers only restrictions related to travel into the United States but does not cover complications or visa requirements regarding entry to other countries globally. If you have specific questions regarding contemplated international travel, please reach out to WSM to set up a consultation. You may also learn more about visa stamps here.
Q: What is entailed in the Biden Administration’s vaccination requirement for foreign travelers?
A: Most foreign national travelers are required to show proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to boarding a plane to the U.S. Please see detailed information on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html.
Q: Under this requirement that all foreign national travelers present proof of vaccination before boarding a flight to the U.S., what is considered “fully vaccinated” and which COVID-19 vaccines are deemed acceptable?
A: The CDC has provided information on COVID-19 vaccination requirements, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#covid-vaccines.
Q: What proof of vaccination status will be acceptable?
A: All forms of proof of COVID-19 vaccination must have:
- Personal identifiers (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) that match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel documents
- Name of official source issuing the record (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider)
- Vaccine manufacturer and date(s) of vaccination. Please note that airlines will verify that the form of proof includes a name and date of birth that matches other identification documents, is from an official source within the country where the vaccine was issued, and shows full vaccination. Travelers should confirm with the airline if translation is required for documents not in English.
- For land border and ferry crossings, CBP will require similar proof of vaccination and that the traveler attest to their reason for travel.
More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#covid-vaccines
Q: Are there any exceptions to the requirement that all foreign national travelers must show proof of vaccination?
A: Certain travelers are not required to show proof of vaccination to board a flight to the United States. These include:
- U.S. citizens
- U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders)
- Children under 18
- Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
- Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
- Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
- Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
- Persons with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability (See list effective as of April 14, 2022)
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
- Sea crew members traveling pursuant to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
- Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)
- If you are a noncitizen, nonimmigrant who does not fall under any of these exceptions, you must show proof of being fully vaccinated before boarding a flight to the United States.
Certain additional quarantining requirements for those without vaccination can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#faq-exceptions
Q: Should I be aware of any other travel requirements in addition to showing proof of vaccination?
Please note that it is no longer necessary to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S.
Q: I am in the process of applying for permanent residency. Can I still travel internationally?
As the rules regarding international travel while pursuing permanent residency vary depending on non-immigrant visa type and permanent residency application, please consult with WSM regarding any anticipated international travel while pursuing permanent residency.
Q: My employer is seeking to extend my non-immigrant status but I have international travel plans. Is travel permissible?
A: Please note that traveling while the extension petition is under preparation can cause complications. Please consult with WSM LLP if you are contemplating international travel while the non-immigrant visa petition is being prepared for filing or is pending.
Q: Can “non-essential” travelers now enter through land borders from Mexico and Canada?
A: Yes, as of 2021 the United States will allow travelers from Mexico and Canada to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings. Please note that entering the U.S. to perform work for a U.S. company is typically considered “essential travel,” but please confer with WSM LLP with specific questions.
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