COVID-19 Travel Requirements: What do Foreign National Workers Need In Order to Enter the United States?
In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, certain travelers to the United States will need to comply with vaccination and/or testing requirements. These requirements, initially only applicable to air travel, have recently been expanded to also cover individuals seeking entry into the U.S. by land and sea.
As of January 22, 2022, all individuals who are not U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, or U.S. Legal Permanent Residents must show documentation that they are either fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID-19 vaccine or eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement, in order to be allowed entry into the United States by air, land, or sea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers an individual fully vaccinated 14 days after the initial dose of a single-dose vaccine or 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine.
Accepted COVID-19 Vaccines[i]
Categories of individuals that may be excepted from the vaccination requirement include:[ii]
- Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
- Children under 18 years of age
- Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
- Participants in certain COVID-19 trials
- Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
- Persons with valid visas (excluding B-1 or B-2 visas) who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability[iii]
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children under 18 years of age
- Sea crew members traveling with 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.
A separate CDC order also requires all air travelers (regardless of citizenship) to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken one day preceding their departure before they are allowed to board any flight and enter the U.S. For those individuals who have recently recovered from COVID-19, they may instead present documentation of recovery (i.e., a positive COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 90 days prior to departure and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that the individual has recovered and is cleared to travel).
Additional information from the CDC regarding pre- and post-travel requirements and details regarding exceptions can be found here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html.
If you have further questions about U.S. inbound travel requirements or other general questions about employment-based immigration, please contact one of the immigration specialists in Koley Jessen’s Employment, Labor, and Benefits Practice Group.
[i] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#covid-vaccines (as of January 31, 2022).