By: Angelo A. Paparelli  

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars. 3d render

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, nonimmigrants traveling to the United States should expect no lifting of visa and entry bans as the Biden Administration comes to power – notwithstanding late-breaking changes announced by the outgoing Trump Administration.

In a surprise move, on January 18, 2021, President Trump issued a proclamation lifting COVID-19 visa and entry bans for certain nonimmigrant entrants arriving in the U.S. from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil and the Schengen Area countries of Europe.  This followed a  January 12, 2021 order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (taken three days before departure), or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19, for all international air passengers arriving in the United States.  Both changes were set to take effect on January 26, 2021.

Hopes for the lifting of COVID-19 visa and entry bans were soon dashed, however, by incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She posted back-to-back tweets making it clear that there would be no relaxation of the bans for Europe and Brazil in the short term:

On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.

Nonetheless, according to the Washington Post, incoming President Biden will rescind the existing Trump administration (non-COVID) travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries by executive order on his first day in office.

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For advice on immigration-related policy advocacy, litigation, or benefits compliance relating to these developments, Seyfarth invites employers to reach out to the lawyers in the firm’s Business Immigration Group.