Statutes of Liberty: New Covid requirements for the holidays

This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.

Traveling to the U.S. for the holidays? Here’s the info on new COVID-19 requirements!

Citizens! Readers! Fellow disease vectors! We are approaching that time of the year when we travel to be with loved ones, eat overrated food and consider throwing a turkey drumstick at Uncle Billy. Last year, very few people traveled, but this year has looked a bit more “normal” according to the TSA checkpoint travel numbers.

What does the new normal look like for those traveling to the U.S.?

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Presidential Proclamation 10294 rescinding the geographic COVID-19 travel bans which restricted travel for those from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, UK and Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India, and adopted COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all international air travelers to the United States (with few exceptions).

According to the new Presidential Proclamation, all international air travelers must be fully vaccinated to enter the United States. Air travelers are now required to provide proof of vaccination before boarding a plane to the United States; but beware, not all vaccines are accepted. The CDC has published a list of vaccines that are approved or authorized by the FDA or on the World Health Organization emergency use list. The following vaccines are accepted:

  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Single Dose)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Covaxin

The Proclamation provides some exceptions to the vaccine requirement (spoiler alert: no religious or moral convictions exceptions are included). These are as follows:

  • Children under the age of 18
  • Those who have participated in clinical trials for covid-19 vaccination
  • Those for whom covid-19 vaccines are medically contraindicated
  • Those who are granted humanitarian and emergency exceptions by the Director of the CDC
  • Those citizens of a country with less than 10% of the population vaccinated
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses and children
  • National interest exceptions
  • Diplomats or persons on official government travel
  • United Nations travel
  • Sea crew members
  • Airline crew members

It is important to note that anyone subject to these exceptions will have rigorous testing requirements upon arrival, and will have to self-quarantine for 7 days (even if the test results are negative), or self-isolate (in the case of a positive result). Moreover, if these individuals intend to stay for longer than 60 days, they may be required to become fully vaccinated within 60 days of arrival or as soon as medically appropriate.

For more detailed information about the requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for air passengers, please visit this link.

As always, we are happy to answer any questions from our readers. Happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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