Effective Tuesday, May 4, President Biden issued a proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals to the U.S who have been physically present in India within the past 14 days of travel. This proclamation is an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and builds on previous limitations on travel from China, Iran, the countries within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa. The complete text of the Presidential Proclamation is available on the official White House website.

It is important to note that the travel restrictions are determined not by nationality, but by travel history. Citizens of the above-listed countries may still enter the United States, insofar as as their travel does not originate in or include India, China, Iran, the countries within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa.

None of the travel restrictions currently in place apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families.

What This Means for International Workers and Visitors

Since travel restrictions continue to evolve rapidly, foreign nationals currently in the United States who have planned any international travel should review and reconsider their plans. This should be done with the understanding that they may not be permitted to return to the U.S., and may be subject to entry restrictions or quarantines in their destination country. United States citizens and permanent residents, while still permitted to return to the U.S. from all impacted countries, may be subject to medical checks and quarantine protocols upon arrival, and should factor these risks into their travel plans. Additionally, all travelers to the U.S. are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. The rule applies to all air passengers, 2 years of age or older, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders), as well as those on visas. A full set of FAQs, including rules for those with several connecting flights, is available on the CDC Website.

In addition to the travel restrictions, many U.S. embassies and consulates are operating with limited visa services, and many U.S. embassies and consulates have been routinely cancelling visa interview appointments. All foreign nationals who are currently scheduled to appear for a visa appointment overseas should monitor the status of their appointments with the respective embassy or consulate's scheduling website. U.S. embassies and consulates located in countries subject to U.S. entry bans are also not issuing visas while the entry bans are in place.

As a result of the potential for further spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented similar travel restrictions. U.S. citizens and foreign nationals planning any international travel in the near future are strongly encouraged to review current travel policies to their destination countries.

What Can You Do?

To reduce the impact of travel restrictions and/or quarantine requirements, we recommend to any employees on U.S. work visas:

  • Consider canceling or delaying international travel. If international travel is unavoidable, understand that foreign nationals may not be permitted to return to the U.S. for some time.
  • If an employee is on a visa that is expiring, please contact us so we can evaluate whether travel to apply for a visa renewal is necessary. The employee may be able to remain in the U.S. if their work authorization is valid. If they must travel to apply for a new visa stamp, consider consular locations near the U.S., to minimize air travel and the possibility of canceled flights.
  • If the employee's work authorization is expiring, filing for an extension of the petition at United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) may be an option.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.