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US Travel Requirements as per CDC from Nov 8, 2021. Vaccines, CDC Guidelines

As many of you know, since the start of the COVID pandemic there were few travel bans put up by the US that are applicable for 33 countries that include EU Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, China, Iran, and Brazil. The most recent one was by Biden on April 30th, 2021 that banned Travelers from India due to a surge in COVID cases in India.

Biden signed a Proclamation on October 26th, 2021 that lifts the travel ban and introduces vaccination requirements for anyone traveling to the US from Nov 8th, 2021. In this article, we will summarize the official information and latest news on the same. We will continue to update this article with the latest news

US Travel Ban lifted from Nov 8th, 2021, Travel Requirements

Below is the summary of the official guidelines and news related to the lifting of the travel ban to the US. It is a summary based on the official announcements made by the US Dept of State and CDC.

US Travel Ban lifted from Nov 8th, Vaccination Requirements

President Biden signed a Proclamation on Oct 25th, 2021 that lifted the travel ban on Nov 8th and added vaccination requirements for all travelers entering the US. The previous negative COVID test requirements will continue to be in place for international travelers to the US. Travelers need to submit proof of vaccination and negative COVID test results in order to enter the US at the port of entry.

The proof of vaccination and negative COVID test, which was taken within 3 days from the travel date, has to be shown before boarding the flight to the US. All air travelers to the US ages 2 years and above regardless of their citizenship or vaccination status, must have the negative COVID-19 test. Below is the screenshot of the official press release as per the US Dept of State.

Requirements to Travel to US after Nov 8, 2021
Requirements to Travel to US after Nov 8, 2021

List of Vaccines Accepted for Travel to US, CDC guidelines

US Dept of State in their press releases and FAQs said that that they would accept US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approved vaccines or the list of vaccines that are approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization(WHO). They suggest checking the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) on the list of vaccines. See below screenshot on guidance on vaccines accepted by US Dept of State guidance

What COVID Vaccines will be accepted for Travel to US
What COVID Vaccines will be accepted for Travel to the US

As per CDC website, below are the list of approved vaccines and you have to meet the 2 weeks timeline as well after getting the second shot to be considered fully vaccinated :

  • Pfizer Biontech — FDA Approved
  • Moderna — FDA Approved
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) — FDA Approved
  • AstraZeneca — WHO Approved
  • Covishield — WHO Approved
  • Covaxin – WHO Approved
  • Sinovac — WHO Approved
  • BIBP/ Sinopharm — WHO Approved
  • Check the below screenshot from Official CDC Website that shows fully vaccinated definition.
  • Also check Official Current Full list of WHO Approved vaccines

For the latest info, check the article on List of COVID Vaccines Accepted by US for Travel

Below is the actual screenshot of the list of vaccines that are accepted for US Travel as per Official CDC website

Accepted List of COVID 19 Vaccines for US Travelers after Travel Ban
Accepted List of COVID 19 Vaccines for US Travelers after Travel Ban
Definition of Fully Vaccinated for US Travel COVID vaccines
Definition of Fully Vaccinated for US Travel COVID vaccines

CDC would require Airlines to collect contact Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) would require the Airlines operating flights to the US to collect the contact information that includes phone numbers and email addresses of all individuals traveling to the US. This data would primarily be used for help with contact tracing.

Face Masks Required on Public Transport and Transporation Hubs

As per CDC, you are required to wear masks in public transportation such as Airlines, Buses, Trains. You are also required to wear masks indoors at US transportation hubs and US airports.

US Land Border Policies

DHS announced that they are opening up the land and ports for non-essential travelers starting from Nov 8th, 2021. The policies are similar to air travel. Travelers need to be fully vaccinated, and they need to provide proof of the vaccination. They need to attest their reason for travel. You can check DHS Fact Sheet for Land Arrivals

No Quarantine, testing requirements for Fully Vaccniated,

If you are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test, you do not have any quarantine requirements. There are additional testing requirements, including quarantine for anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including American citizens and Green Card holders. These quarantine and testing requirements are the same for anyone, who got exceptions given as per CDC below.

Exceptions for Vaccination Requirements to travel to US

CDC has given guidance that the below categories of individuals entering the US fall under exceptions and need not be fully vaccinated.

  • Children who are under 18 years of age.
  • Anyone traveling to US on diplomatic or official govt. purpose.
  • Anyone with documented medical situation that taking vaccine will harm them
  • Anyone participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Anyone issued a humanitarin or emergency exception
  • US Armed forces members, their spouses, and children
  • Sea Crew members traveling with C-1, D Non-immigrant visa.
  • Anyone traveling to US for national interest as deterined by US dept of State, DHS and related organizations.
  • Countries with limited vaccine availablity. Below is the list of such countries as of Oct 25, 2021.
List of Foreign Countries Exempted for Vaccine Requirements
List of Foreign Countries Exempted for Vaccine Requirements

Quarantine, Testing Requirments for not fully vaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated based on the above exceptions and arrive in US, you are required to follow the below steps

  • Need to get COVID-19 viral test 3 to 5 days after arriving in US, unless you recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days
  • Self-quarantine for 7 full days after arrival in US, even if the viral test is negative.
  • Isolate yourself, if you are tested postive for COVID-19
  • If you plan to stay in US for 60 days or longer, you must get fully vaccinated.

What does US Lifting Travel Ban mean for Travelers ?

When there was a travel ban in effect, before Nov 8th, 2021, if you need to travel to the US from any of the 33 countries in the travel ban list, you needed a National Interest Exception(NIE) from US Consulate or Embassy. But, starting from November 8th, 2021, individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need the NIE approval from the consulates to travel to the US. Below are more details.

  • No need to email Consulates for NIE : If the travelers have a valid visa and meet the two requirements of fully vaccinated and negative COVID test, they will be allowed to board the plane. There is no need to email the consulates for approval. This applies to Visa Waiver Program travelers with ESTA approval as well.
  • US Visa Stamping NIE Requirements : Before Nov 8th, 2021, if you were applying for US Visa stamping for in-perosn interview or going for visa renewal like H1B Dropbox Stamping you needed to show that you were part of the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors in US and qualify for NIE to get Visa. Applicants needed to submit NIE Letters from employers to prove that they were part of vital support. If not, they would be given 221g based on not meeting NIE requriements. Starting from November 8th, all of these NIE letters or proofs are not needed, if you meet the vaccine requirements and negative COVID test.
  • Visitors – B1/ B2 Travel : Before Nov 8th, 2021, most of the visitors from the 33 travel ban countries, unless they qualify for Emergency Visa Appointment , were not allowed to enter the US or even get Visa stamping. Many families members, including parents applying for Visitors (B2 Visa) were not able to get stamping or travel to US with the travel ban. Starting from November 8th, this changed and all of these individuals can get stamping done and travel to the US. But, the US Visa appointments wait times are already crazy, it will be even harder to get slots as more will be looking for slots. We need to wait and see how consulates handle this.

US Travel Ban Lifted for India

The India Travel ban was signed as Proclamation 10199, which was signed by President back in April 2021. US Dept of State made a formal announcement clarifying that the travel ban would be lifted from November 8th, 2021. See below screenshot from press release from US dept of State

Travel Ban to be lifted for India
Travel Ban to be lifted for India

US Embassy India updated their website with the same vaccination requirements as from CDC and the US Dept of State. They have not really given any indication of having more visa stamping slots or anything related to B1/B2 slots. As of now, there are very limited slots available for stamping and only interview waiver applicants. No B1/B2 visitors slots are open yet for stamping under interview waiver. All the consulates are operating in a limited fashion. You can check US Visa Stamping in India News Updates for the latest info and updates.

US Embassy India Update regarding Lifting of Travel Ban
US Embassy India Update regarding Lifting of Travel Ban

Latest News Updates on Lifting Travel ban to US

Below is the list of news updates on the Travel Ban with links to official and news sources for further reading and review

Common FAQs

What are the COVID Vaccines Accepted in the US for Travel?

The US Dept of State confirmed that they would refer to CDC Guidance for list of vaccines. Based on CDC guidance, they would accept FDA approved vaccines or WHO approved emergency use vaccines list. For more, check List of Vaccines Accepted in US for Travel

Is US Travel Ban lifted? From What date ?

The US Travel ban was lifted on November 8th, 2021. It is based on proclamation signed by Biden introducing vaccination requirements and lifting of Travel ban on Oct 25th, 2021.

What COVID Vaccines in India would be accepted to travel to US ?

As per CDC, they would accept WHO Approved vaccines. In India, the widely used WHO approved vaccines are AstraZeneca / Covishied vaccine and COVAXIN vaccine.

When will the India Travel ban be lifted to travel to US ?

The India Travel Ban to travel to US will be lifted on November 8th, 2021. This is going to be general date for everyone and not tied to specific country.

Does lifting of Travel Ban from Nov 8, 2021 apply to H1B & H4 visa holders?

Yes, it is applicable to all visa types and does not have any restrictions. You need to meet the basic requirements of Vaccination and negative covid test to travel to the US.

What are your thoughts on lifting the travel ban announcement by the US? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

   

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55 Comments

  1. All,

    Has anyone been able to secure H1B Dropbox appointment in India? The travel ban has been lifted, however, the slots are still not available. Responses will be appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Hi Kumar,
    I’m fully vaccinated and with a valid visa stamped. However, my flight leaves at 07 Nov 5:30 PM EST from India with a transit stop in the Middle East. And the flight to US leaves at 08 Nov 1:00 AM EST.
    As per the proclamation, I see that “ Sec. 6. Effective Date. This proclamation is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 8, 2021. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 8, 2021.”
    I’m confused whether I qualify under the proclamation or not. Would you be able to confirm ?

    Reply
  3. Hi kumar,
    I am planning to travel to India next month. My visa Already expired and need to go stamping. My Current H1B will expire on 27/04/2022 and my company already started H1B extension process. Currently am LCA Phase in process.
    once the visa is approved my extension will start from 28/04/2022
    Question
    if I go to stamping on December will I get the visa stamped till 27/04/2022 or I will get the visa stamping till the new visa approval date?

    Reply
    • If the new extension is not approved by the time you are in india then you will get stamped till 27/04/2022.
      Incase your extension is approve make sure you update the latest h1 extension receipt number in ds160 and visa cgi website profile you block your appointment. Then they will give visa till the date the extension is approved.

      Reply
  4. Hi kumar,
    I have received 221(f) slip first time interview. Then when P.P.10052 was revoke and president Biden announced that travel banned lifted for those who are coms under critical infrastructure. They all need to submit NIE letter. So I also received NIE letter from my employer and go to visa interview second time. This time also VO give to me 221(g) slip and said to come when travel banned lifted. So in 8th Nov. travelling banned will be lifted. So how many chance to get visa if I applied visa interview after 8th Nov. Could you please help me?

    Reply
  5. Hi

    I applied for B1/B2 Visa in January 2021. Since then, I am not able to book OFC/Interview appointments using the cgifederal website.

    It constantly shows “There are currently no appointments available.”

    What can be my plan of action ?

    Reply
  6. I am currently in India but have completed both of vaccines in US before I travelled. Is the white house notification sufficient to come back to the US or would they have to sign some kind of executive order or pass some kind of rule for it become a rule?

    Reply
    • achilleus,
      It is official now and US dept of state confirmed. Nothing else needed. There will be more guidance closer to the re-opening date.

      Reply
  7. hi Kumar, First of all big thanks for this article, as per this visa stamping doesn’t need NIE any more for the vaccinated but looks like there is no word on this ! and looks to me only the people with stamped visa + vaccinated can travel ,does it means visa stamping still need NIE?

    Reply
  8. Hi Admin,

    Thank you for posting this detailed article.

    Can you please throw some light on what will happen to unjabbed H1b and H4 visa holders after Nov 8. Suppose if the couple is in Canada, will they still be able to cross the border by land/plane after Nov 8 if they are unjabbed or would they need to get NIE along with the Visa?

    In one of the media report (link below), it was mentioned that essential travellers will be exempted from this requirements for now (Untill Jan 2022). So, will H1b and H4 visa holders be considered in the exempt category by default or would an NIE be required?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXLzU90XQyQ&t=71s&ab_channel=GlobalNews

    Thank you for all the great work that you do.

    Reply
    • Mohit,
      As of now, it is likely that they will be exempted as the vaccination is not yet approved. We are waiting for official update from CDC on this.

      Reply
  9. For someone who was picked in Lottery this year and have approved petition, what steps can be taken now, so that when consulates open, one can grab the appointment. Hoping to get H1B visa stamped and H4 for spouse at the earliest.
    Any guidance here would be appreciated.

    Reply
  10. What if I have a 221(g) white slip stating I fall under PP10199 and Consulate will/or I should contact after the ban lifts.

    After the ban lifts (and hopefully the PP 10199) Should I book another MRV appointment for the same visa #? Because dealing with support india email to reconsider my application again might have significant hurdles I can sense. Thanks.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for the detailed article. As of now we dont have official dates yet for this ban lift. My family is planning to visit India for a month from last week of Nov (h1, h4 and citizen kid). We have advance parole but preferred to keep H1 active and wanted to get H1, H4 visa stamped. I am eligible for dropbox, could you please let me know what is the process to get visa stamped (any guess on stamping timelines? will I get stamped passport in 3 weeks once applied for stamping using dropbox), understand that the NIE approval may not be needed by then, any other documents we need for dropbox ?

    Reply
  12. Hi Kumar,
    I had my H1 regular appointments scheduled on november 26th, but they are cancelled by consulate.
    Please let me know if you are aware of the reason.

    Thanks

    Reply
  13. Hi Kumar,

    In the article it is mentioned “Dropbox Stamping Slots : US consulates all across the US are givng Interview waiver or Dropbox slots for H4, H1B and other visa renewals.”…. My question is how come all US consulate in US are giving Dropbox slots? Don’t we need to leave US for Dropbox stamping?

    Reply
  14. Hi Kumar,

    I just got email form Embassy saying “Cancellation of appointment scheduled at Chennai Consulate for November 2021”, so my appointment on 25th November got cancelled now.

    If they are going to lift BAN, then why they are cancelling the appointments?

    Reply
    • I received the same email from the Chennai consulate. I had my appointments scheduled for Nov 2nd and 3rd, but both are cancelled now with no more appointments to book. Really in the dark about the appointments now.

      Reply
      • Same here, I had my appointment on Nov 19th which was booked 5 months ago, and got a cancellation email today, already tried Emergency Appointment a few times earlier and received a denial.
        Looking for some guidance on the what will be next steps !

        Reply
  15. I want to bring my parents from India (First Time- No Visa Stamp), but not getting appointments for VISA interview, even if we paid visa fee last year, Sep 2020. so need to know when the consulate will reopen the windows and do we have to pay again the visa fee.

    Reply
  16. My son (Indian) on H1B visa and working in USA, is getting married to an American girl in Dec, 2021. My wife and myself have a valid tourist visa to USA, can we travel to US in Dec to attend his wedding.

    Reply
  17. My son (Indian) is getting married to an American girl in Dec, 2021. My wife and myself have a valid tourist visa to USA, can we travel to US in Dec to attend his wedding.

    Reply
  18. My spouse is planning to travel to Turkey for 7 days starting next week and she will be back by 4-OCT-2021. She has a valid H4 Visa till the end of this year and she is also fully vaccinated.

    Will there be any problem for her while re-entryUSA? Considering she will stay in Turkey for only 7 Days.

    Reply
    • PK,
      The new rules in above article are not effective yet. Check with Turkey’s US Embassy for any specific information on this. I am not following it closely. Write to them or call them to get clarity.

      Reply
  19. Please let us know can i go for a drop box appointment – can i ask my company can start scheudling the drop box appointment

    Reply
    • umamaheswaran, You can plan for it for next month. But, you need NIE as of today. This will change once they announce more details. Stay tuned for new guidance.

      Reply
    • DS,
      Once they give official guidance, then you can contact the consulates to process the same. Again, many of these are also tied to limited capacity. Need to wait for few more days or weeks to get full clarity.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply Kumar!
        Can you please help me in understanding the process after lifting the ban…would it be as simple as submitting the documents and passports at nearest VAC and we get them stamped in a week…or can we expect any hurdles or surprises here like again requesting for any documents?( we were told during interview just to drop passports post ban removal)?!….

        Reply

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