On March 11th, U.S. President Trump implemented expanded travel restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Building on previously-announced limitations on travel from China and Iran, the United States has suspended entry to foreign nationals arriving from most European countries and those who have been present in those countries within the past 14 days. The entry ban will begin on Friday, March 13th, and will remain in place for 30 days. The complete text detailing this Presidential Proclamation, and a list of the affected countries, can be found on the official White House website.

The new travel restrictions apply to all countries in the Schengen Area of Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Notably, the United Kingdom is exempt from the new entry ban.

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, so long as their travel does not originate in or include China, Iran, or the Schengen states.

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

Most countries have announced or implemented their own travel restrictions and domestic containment efforts, including:

  • Virtually all nations have suspended entry to travelers from China.
  • India has suspended most inbound international travel, including Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). In addition, travelers arriving from China, Italy, Iran, the Republic of Korea, France, Spain, and Germany are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
  • Australia has suspended travel from China, Italy, and South Korea. At this time, travelers from the European Union are still permitted to enter Australia.
  • Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and other South American nations have implemented strict quarantine measures for travelers arriving from China, Italy, France, Spain, and in some cases, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the United States.

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.

In addition to the travel restrictions, many embassies and consulates have suspended visa services. All foreign nationals who are currently scheduled to appear for a visa appointment overseas should contact the embassy or consulate to confirm that the appointment will still proceed. If visa operations have been suspended, you will have the opportunity to reschedule your appointment at a later date.

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. Additional travel restrictions are likely in the coming days, so be sure to review restrictions in place before embarking on any international trip.
  • If an employee is on a visa that's 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.

Please contact the Pryor Cashman attorney with whom you work to discuss visa strategies.

For more information on COVID-19, please consult the websites for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , and the World Health Organization, which have additional considerations for pandemic preparations.

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.