Connecticut, US

Feb 06 2020

Coronavirus Update: U.S. Adds Four More Airports to Screen Individuals Traveling from China; Visa Issuance Delays Likely for Those with Recent China Travel

United States

At a glance

  • The U.S. government has expanded its advanced coronavirus screening efforts by adding four U.S. international airports to the list of those currently screening for the virus.
  • The additional airports are: Washington Dulles, Newark Liberty, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Detroit Metropolitan.
  • The expansion follows the imposition of travel restrictions that took effect on Sunday, February 2 for certain individuals traveling from China, including directing flights from China or with passengers who recently traveled there, to designated U.S. airports.
  • Foreign nationals who have recently traveled to China may experience visa issuance delays at U.S. consulates abroad.

The issue

The Department of Homeland Security has officially designated four additional international airports to the list of those charged with advanced screening for the coronavirus, following several travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government last week. The new airports to which targeted flights will be directed for screening of passengers with recent China travel are: Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan. These arrival restrictions are already in effect, as of the date of DHS’s official announcement.

A closer look

Starting February 2, the United States started channeling all flights from China as well as flights with passengers who had visited China within 14 days, to seven select U.S. international airports designated to screen for the coronavirus. The initial airports were John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Illinois, San Francisco International Airport in California, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Hawaii, Los Angeles International Airport in California, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia. The addition of the four new airports expands the list where these flights are permitted to land in the United States.

Once processed at one of the designated airports, U.S. citizens, green card holders and their immediate relatives will be subject to mandatory quarantines according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent restrictions. There is a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days on U.S. citizens who have visited China’s Hubei province within 14 days of their attempted entry. U.S. citizens who visited other parts of mainland China within the previous 14 days will undergo advanced health screening at the airport, as well as a monitored self-quarantine of up to 14 days. The quarantine also applies to lawful permanent residents and immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and as well as others exempt from a foreign national travel ban imposed late last week.

Travel ban on foreign nationals with recent China travel

A presidential proclamation issued late last week temporarily bars the entry of foreign nationals coming from mainland China in the 14 days preceding their attempted admission to the United States. 

The following groups of foreign nationals are exempt from the ban:

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • The parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, if the U.S. citizen or permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • The sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • The 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;
  • A foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • Nonimmigrant crewmembers;
  • Foreign nationals seeking entry or transiting the United States under an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4 or NATO-6 visa;
  • A foreign national whose entry would not pose a significant risk of transmitting the virus, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control; and
  • A foreign national whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement interests or would be in the U.S. national interest.

U.S. consular operations

In addition to these travel restrictions, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China have cancelled immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments following the Chinese government's decision to impose restrictions on large gatherings. The State Department has indicated that it hopes to resume routine visa services as soon as possible, though it is unable to provide an exact date at this time. 

U.S. consulates outside of China may delay visa issuance if an applicant has traveled to China within 14 days. 

What this means for travelers

While U.S. citizens with recent China travel will be permitted to enter the United States, they must travel through one of the eleven designated ports of entry and undergo some form of quarantine, depending on the location of their travel in China. U.S. lawful permanent residents and the immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents should also be prepared for these measures.

Foreign nationals who have recently visited mainland China and who are not immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or green card holders will not be admitted to the United States until the presidential proclamation has been lifted. This includes foreign nationals who hold a valid nonimmigrant visa to the United States. 

Foreign nationals with visa appointments or awaiting visa issuance from U.S. consulates in China should check with the relevant consulate for the latest information on closures and consular operations. Links to U.S. consulates in China are available at the Department of State’s consular directory

Foreign nationals with visa appointments outside of China, but who have traveled to China within 14 days, may see delays in the issuance of their visas.

Fragomen is closely following the U.S. travel restrictions related to the coronavirus and will provide updates as further details are issued. For the latest information related to the coronavirus’ impact on immigration-related matters worldwide, please visit Fragomen’s Coronavirus Update Page

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.