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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
- November 3rd, 2021 : Covaxin get WHO approval and would be now accepted in US for travel requirements. Check more at WHO Website
- October 25th, 2021 : President Biden Signed a Proclamation that will lift the travel ban from Nov 8th, 2021 and introduce vacccination requirements from Nov 8th for all travelers to the US. Check below official press releases
- October 15th, 2021 : Whitehouse annouced that they would lift the US Travel Ban starting from November 8th, 2021. Also, US Dept of State made official press release on the same. Still policy documents are not yet fully released on the exceptions. CDC has given some guidance. Check US Dept of State Press Release and BBC News , WSJ News , Reuters News
- October 12th, 2021 : US announced that they will allow Mexico and Canada Travelers, who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, to travel to US by land starting from early November. It was announced by DHS in a press release. Check Reuters News , NY Times News , Reuters News
- Sep 20th, 2021 : White House announces in virtual press release the upcoming plans on lifting travel ban. Check more details at NPR.org , Associated Press News, Washington Post , CNBC News
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
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.
As per CDC, they would accept WHO Approved vaccines. In India, the widely used WHO approved vaccines are AstraZeneca / Covishied vaccine and COVAXIN vaccine.
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.
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.