Jan 19 2021

White House Lifts Regional COVID-19 Bans for Europe and Brazil Starting Jan. 26, But Biden Team Says Bans Will Remain in Place

United States

At a glance

  • President Trump has issued a presidential proclamation that lifts the regional COVID-19 public health bans in place for Brazil, the European Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom starting January 26. The bans affect foreign nationals who have been physically present in one of these countries within 14 days of travel to the United States.
  • January 26 is also the effective date of a new CDC testing requirement for all international travel to the United States from any foreign country, including travel by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
  • The Biden Administration has stated that President-elect Biden will reverse the new proclamation and retain all existing regional COVID-19 public health travel bans.  If so, starting January 26, affected foreign nationals would be subject to both the regional bans and the CDC testing requirements.

The issue

Yesterday, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation ordering that on January 26, foreign nationals will no longer be subject to the regional COVID-19 public health bans in place for Brazil, the European Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Similar bans for China and Iran would continue to remain in effect. However, the Biden Administration has publicly stated that it plans to keep all COVID-19 regional bans in place after taking office on January 20, citing concern over a worsening pandemic. The new administration also plans to issue further public health measures related to international travel, according to their spokesperson.

Background

The COVID-19 regional public health bans restrict travel for foreign nationals who have been physically present in one of the banned countries within 14 days of seeking entry to the United States and who do not qualify for a ban exception. 

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued more expansive international travel restrictions, requiring a negative COVID test or evidence of recent COVID recovery for any international to the United States starting on January 26. The new CDC requirements affect all travelers ages two years and older – including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents – who are seeking to enter the United States from any foreign country.  This testing requirement is in addition to any regional public health or other travel bans in place for certain foreign nationals. 

Yesterday’s proclamation cites the new CDC order and anticipated European and Brazilian cooperation in implementation of the order as justification for lifting the COVID regional bans for Europe and Brazil only.

What it means

If the new Trump presidential proclamation takes effect on January 26, foreign nationals currently subject to the regional public health bans for Brazil, the European Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom would no longer be required to seek exceptions from bans in order to travel. They would be required to comply only with the new CDC testing and documentation requirements also taking effect on January 26.

However, if the Biden Administration retains these regional public health bans as indicated in public statements, affected foreign nationals will continue to be subject to the regional bans and will also be required to comply with the CDC testing requirements in order to undertake international travel.

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