COVID-19 International Travel Guidance

This page will continue to be updated as news becomes available.

 

The  U.S. President has issued five COVID-19-related proclamations to limit travel to the United States from certain countries. These proclamations will remain in effect until terminated by the President. The proclamations state that the "Secretary of Health and Human Services shall recommend that the President continue, modify, or terminate" the proclamations.

  • On July 14, 2020, the Department of State (DOS) included this question and response in a brief FAQ related to the gradual reopening of consulates on a country-by country basis: "Do the various Presidential Proclamations/travel restrictions still apply, or are those lifting with the resumption of visa services? The five geographical COVID-19 Proclamations (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, 10041) and the two COVID-19 Labor Market Proclamations suspending the entry of certain aliens (P.P. 10014 and 10052) remain in effect."
  • On July 16, 2020, DOS posted the following promising news item on the travel.state.gov website. Remember that each proclamation allows for exceptions, one of which is for individuals "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees." Travelers who would otherwise be subject to the Schengen, UK, and Ireland proclamations should contact the U.S. embassy in the country from which they will be traveling to the United States to verify if an exception applies to them.

"National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland

Last Updated: July 16, 2020

"Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). Qualified business and student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States even as PPs 9993 and 9996 remain in effect.

Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request.    

The Department of State also continues to grant National Interest Exceptions for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.  

Granting national interest exceptions for this travel to the United States from the Schengen area, UK, and Ireland, will assist with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster key components of our transatlantic relationship.   

We appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic and welcome the EU’s reciprocal action to allow key categories of essential travel to continue."

  • On July 20, 2020 DOS tweeted some FAQs on national interest exceptions for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
  • Even if this particular hurdle is overcome vis-à-vis DOS, the issues that remain are:
    • CBP policy
      • Will CBP honor this apparently blanket exception at pre-clearance inspection and at ports of entry?
    • SEVP policy
      • Will DOS issue a visa and will CBP admit a student who wants to enter or reenter to attend: a) an entirely online program ; b) a hybrid program; c) an in-person program?
      • Will DOS and CBP want to see a notation on the I-20 similar to the notation called for by the now-rescinded July 2020 SEVP directive?

The COVID-19 Country-Specific Proclamations

  1. China Travel Proclamation. January 31, 2020 - Proclamation 9984 of January 31, 2020, published at 85 FR 6709, titled Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The proclamation cites INA 212(f) to suspend 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, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This coronavirus travel ban is effective starting 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 2, 2020.
  2. Iran Travel Proclamation. February 29, 2020 - Proclamation 9992 of February 29, 2020, published at 85 FR 12855. The proclamation cites INA 212(f) to suspend 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 coronavirus travel ban is effective starting 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020.
  3. European Schengen Area Proclamation. March 11, 2020 - Proclamation 9993 of March 11, 2020, published at 85 FR 15045 (March 16, 2020). "The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation... This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020." Although in his address President Trump reportedly said the ban would last 30 days, the proclamation language itself states that it "shall remain in effect until terminated by the President." The European Schengen area includes 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.
    • Note: (July 15, 2020) There have been reports that U.S. embassies in certain Schengen countries state that F-1 students present in those specific countries have been granted a "national interest" waiver of the entry ban. If true, this would be pursuant to an exception under Section 2(a)(xi) of Proclamation 9993 of March 11, 2020, as aliens "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees." The scope and source of this determination is unclear at present. Travelers who would otherwise be subject to the Schengen proclamation should contact the U.S. embassy in the country from which they will be traveling to the United States to verify if an exception applies to them.
  4. Ireland and United Kingdom Proclamation. March 14, 2020 - Proclamation 9996 of March 14, 2020, published at 85 FR 15341 (March 18, 2020). Covers England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. "The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended and limited ... This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020.  This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020."
  5. Brazil. May 24-25, 2020. Proclamation 10041 of May 24, 2020. Also published in the Federal Register at 85 FR 31933 (May 28, 2020). Suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The May 24, 2020 proclamation contained a May 28, 2020 effective date, but a May 25, 2020 amendment to the proclamation, also published in the Federal Register at 85 FR 32291 (May 28, 2020) as Proclamation 10042, revised the effective date to May 26, 2020. Section 5 of the May 24, 2020 proclamation has been amended to provide: "This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on May 26, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on May 26, 2020."

The proclamations do not apply to U.S. citizens, or to any alien who is:

  1. a lawful permanent resident of the United States
  2. a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  3. a 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;
  4. a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  5. a 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;
  6. an alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  7. C (transit) or D (air or sea crewmember) nonimmigrants
  8. seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
  9. an alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  10. an alien whose entry would further important United States 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; or
  11. an alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.*
  12. a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

* National Interest Waivers

  • A May 22, 2020 DHS order established a "national interest exemption" under Proclamations 9984 (China), 9992 (Iran), 9993 (Schengen Area), and 9996 (UK and Ireland), for "certain foreign professional athletes who compete in professional sporting events organized by certain leagues, including their essential staff and their dependents." The order will not benefit individuals covered by the Brazil COVID-19 Proclamation 10041. See NAFSA's page on the order.
  • On July 16, 2020, DOS posted the following promising news item on the travel.state.gov website. Remember that each proclamation allows for exceptions, one of which is for individuals "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees." Travelers who would otherwise be subject to the Schengen, UK, and Ireland proclamations should contact the U.S. embassy in the country from which they will be traveling to the United States to verify if an exception applies to them.

For aliens not excluded by the ban, the proclamations direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish standards and procedures at and between all United States ports of entry to regulate the travel of persons and aircraft to the United States to facilitate the orderly medical screening and, where appropriate, quarantine of persons who enter the United States and who may have been exposed to the virus. "Such steps may include directing air carriers to restrict and regulate the boarding of such passengers on flights to the United States."