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United States: Additional Upcoming Changes to COVID-19 Entry Restrictions

UPDATE: The below alert was published before a specific implementation date had been confirmed by the U.S. authorities. Recently, however, President Biden’s White House has confirmed that the regionally-based COVID-19 travel bans will be repealed and replaced by individual-based COVID-19 vaccination requirements as of November 8, 2021. Once implemented, foreign nationals entering the U.S. from anywhere abroad will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to board a flight to enter via a land border (note that the two phase rollout for land border entries is still believed to be in place – see below for details). Guidelines on which vaccines and what types of proof will be accepted are still pending from the U.S. authorities.

As part of the United States’ upcoming new air travel system, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that “non-essential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation” will be allowed to enter the country via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs). The change is expected to take place in early November; however, a specific implementation date has not yet been confirmed.

Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, recently said of the announcement, “Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

Air travel from both of these countries is currently permitted.

Two Phase Implementation

The upcoming changes to the entry system will be rolled out in two phases:

  • November 2021 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the U.S. at land and ferry POEs for non-essential reasons. Travelers will be required to have appropriate paperwork that provides proof of vaccination. Individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes by land from these countries.
  • January 2022 – DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs for any reason (non-essential and essential) – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. According to the DHS announcement, “this approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.”

Peregrine Insights

These changes align with other recent announcements by President Biden’s Administration (more details available here). As the U.S. authorities shift from geography-based restrictions to individual-based permissions (most commonly whether an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a recognized vaccination and can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test), Peregrine looks forward to the U.S. authorities announcing further details of the upcoming entry regulations.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Peregrine or Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.