On Monday, March 16th, 2020, the U.S. will be extending the March 13th, 2020 “European Travel Ban” to certain foreign nationals who have been in the United Kingdom and Ireland for 14 days prior to boarding. These two countries were previously exempted from the Wednesday, March 11th Presidential Proclamation (the “First Proclamation.”)
Exceptions and Limitations to the Coronavirus Travel Ban
The Proclamation and its recent extension, however, contains several exemptions and thus shall not apply to:
- U.S. citizens
- any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- any foreign national who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- any foreign national who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any foreign national who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any foreign national who is 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;
- any foreign national traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- any foreign national traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
- any foreign national:
a) seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or
b) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
- any foreign national whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;
- any foreign national whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
- any foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or
- members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
This First Proclamation entered in effect at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020, while the Second Proclamation will be enforced starting this Monday, March 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time for 30 days.
Must Enter Through One of 13 Designated U.S. Airports
Further to these announcements, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement indicating that U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, as well as their immediate families departing from the U.K., Ireland, Schengen countries, China, and Iran , will be required to travel through a selected list of 13 U.S. airports, which are:
- Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinoi
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
- Detroit Métropolitain Airport (DTW), Michigan
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
Upon their return to the United States, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, as well as their immediate families are ordered to home-quarantine in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) best practice, which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html
Avoid Flights Transiting Through the Banned Countries
Anybody who has an originating flight outside of the banned countries but will have a connecting flight in the U.K., Ireland, Schengen countries, China, or Iran will also automatically become subject to the ban. Caution should be exercised to avoid flights connecting through these countries.
Guidance to Foreign Nationals Seeking to Enter the U.S.
Purpose of Travel: Foreign nationals who have been outside of China, Iran, U.K., Ireland, and the Schengen countries for at least 14 days may travel to the U.S. However, caution is needed as CBP will likely be carefully screening passengers for their intent to enter the U.S. and if they have sufficient funds to be in the U.S. without working.
Proof of Being Outside an Affected Country for 14 Days: The passenger should assume that CBP will want documentary proof that they have been outside of a banned country for 14 days. This could include passport stamps, airline itinerary, hotel receipts, etc.
Flying to the U.S.: Some high net worth individuals that live overseas in the affected areas have elected to use ESTA visa waiver or their B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa to come to the U.S. to “wait out” COVID-19. Of course this assumes they have been in a “safe” third country for at least 14 days prior to entry. As long as they have sufficient funds to live on without working in the U.S. and they have the intent to return to their home, this is arguably a permissible visitor activity. Of course every application for admission to the U.S. is at the discretion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry so there is no 100% guarantee. Travelers arriving at the port of entry may be asked by CBP what is the intent of their visit. They should be truthful and have documents readily available to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to visit the U.S. without working and proof of their ties to their home country – employment, home ownership, round-trip airplane ticket, etc.
B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa and Extension of Status: Individuals arriving on a B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa will be admitted for up to 6 months, at the discretion of CBP. Should the coronavirus threat continue, then individuals should obtain assistance from counsel on filing an extension of status application with USCIS.
ESTA Visa Waiver Countries: Individuals arriving on ESTA visa waiver can be admitted for up to 90 days, however there is no ability to file an extension of status after an entry on ESTA. The sole option is to depart and re-enter for another 90 days. However, CBP does not like “back-to-back” entries so the individual should be prepared to explain to CBP why they are back so soon, their financial assets, and their ties to their home country.
Check your I-94: Regardless of what the entry stamp says in the passport, foreign nationals entering the U.S. should always check their I-94 on-line for accuracy after each arrival. It is the I-94 which determines how long one may stay in the U.S., not the entry stamp or the visa in the passport. An overstay will invalidate one’s ESTA visa waiver privileges or if they do not have ESTA, it will invalidate their B-1/B-2 visa. To obtain the I-94, click on “Get Most Recent I-94” at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
Passport: One should always have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended stay. Otherwise CBP could “short” the I-94.
For more legal insights visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.