Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope that you had a restful Thanksgiving holiday break with your friends and family members.
In this blog post, we share with you some unfortunate new developments relating to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic that will restrict the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries to the United States.
Just as the United States was beginning to ease restrictions on international air travel for the fully vaccinated starting November 8th, the world has once again been thrown into turmoil as a new Coronavirus variant known as “omicron” has been revealed with new cases emerging throughout Europe, Australia, South Africa, and the Netherlands.
President Biden Signs New Travel Ban Proclamation Amid Omicron Variant impacting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi
President Biden and his Chief Medical Adviser were briefed on the unfolding situation, and on Friday, November 26, 2021, President Biden signed Presidential Proclamation, “A Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019,” that restricts the entry of non- U.S. Citizens who were physically present within the Republic of South Africa, Republic of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Republic of Namibia, Kingdom of Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, the Republic of Mozambique, and Republic of Malawi, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.
The new travel ban becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, November 29, 2021, as part of a global effort to reduce the spread of the omicron variant to the United States. The Proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 12:01 am eastern standard time on November 29th.
While no confirmed cases of the variant have yet been announced in the United States, the Chief Medical Adviser has explained that its eventual spread will be inevitable. The new travel ban indicates that the Republic of South Africa informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the new Omicron variant on November 24, 2021, and two days thereafter the WHO announced the new “Omicron” variant as a cause for concern that has been increasing in almost all provinces in the Republic of South Africa. Based on this information, and the lack of genomic sequencing throughout Southern Arica, the government has imposed the new travel restrictions from the named regions.
How long will the travel ban last?
At this time, we do not know how long the bans will remain in place, however it is very likely that they will remain until the Biden administration believes it is safe to rescind the travel bans. As has occurred with the previous COVID-19 geographic travel bans, it is highly likely that the new travel ban will remain in place until it is determined that current vaccinations approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are effective against the emerging Omicron variant. The Proclamation indicates that it will remain in effect until terminated by the President. Within 30 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must recommend whether the President should continue, modify, or terminate the Proclamation.
This evolving situation emerges following the Biden administration’s decision just weeks ago to lift the COVID-19 travel restrictions for international tourists that had been fully vaccinated against Coronavirus. Interestingly, Mozambique was among the 51 countries that the United States had exempted from the vaccine requirement because of the low availability of vaccines in the region.
Thus far, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have imposed their very own travel restrictions halting international travel from Southern African countries.
What will this mean for immigration?
Unfortunately, the entry of non-U.S. Citizen travelers present within the named countries will be restricted until further notice. As with the previous COVID-19 geographic travel bans, the travel ban expressly exempts (does not apply to) the following individuals:
Note: Individuals described hereafter may nevertheless be subject to an entry suspension, limitation, or restriction under Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 (Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic).
Section 2 of the order expressly exempts:
- Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. (green card holders)
- Noncitizen nationals of the United States
- Aliens who are the spouses of U.S. Citizens
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and any spouse and child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that they are unmarried and under the age of 21
- Any noncitizen 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 noncitizen 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 noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- Any noncitizen traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew
- any noncitizen 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 whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement
- any noncitizen 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; or
- any noncitizen or group of noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.
Priorities for Removal
Under section 3, the travel ban explicitly prioritizes the removal of non-citizens from the United States “where a noncitizen circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry.”
We fully expect for additional Presidential Proclamations to be signed within the coming months that may impact the entry of non-U.S. Citizens from additional countries as more information is revealed regarding Omicron.
To read the Proclamation click here.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- A Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019
- A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Federal Register announcement lifting travel restrictions for fully vaccinated non-essential travelers Canada/Mexico
- Secretary Mayorkas to Allow Fully Vaccinated Travelers from Canada and Mexico to Enter U.S. at Land Borders and Ferry Crossings
- U.S. to lift restrictions Nov 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers
- CBP Travel Guidance
- CDC Guidance for International Travelers
- US will re-open Canadian and Mexican borders to fully vaccinated visitors
- COVID 19 Proclamations
- NAFSA Analysis of COVID-19 Proclamations
- Blog Post on Proclamation 10014
- Blog Post on Proclamation 10052
- List of Embassies and Consulates
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
JOIN OUR NEW FACEBOOK GROUP
Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.
For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.