Biden Administration Plans to Rescind COVID-19 Travel Bans & Instead Require Proof of Vaccination

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the Biden administration’s recent plan to rescind the COVID-19 travel bans by November of this year.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Since January 2020, at least 6 different travel bans have been enacted by Presidential Proclamation to prevent the rapid spread of Coronavirus infections in the United States. These travel bans have temporarily suspended the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who have been physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran, during the 14-day period prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

The COVID-19 travel bans

  • China Visa Ban – Proclamation 9984 issued January 21, 2020 – No termination date
  • Iran Visa Ban –Proclamation 9992 issued February 29, 2020 –No termination date
  • European Schengen Area Visa Ban—Proclamation 9993 issued March 11, 2020—No termination date
    • Applies to immigrants and nonimmigrants from 26 European countries including: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland
  • Ireland and UK Visa Ban –Proclamation 9996 issued March 14, 2020 –No termination date
  • South Africa Visa Ban—Proclamation 10143 issued January 25, 2021
  • India Visa Ban –Proclamation 10199 issued April 30, 2021—No termination date
  • Brazil Visa Ban—Proclamation 10041 issued May 25, 2020 –No termination date

For a complete list and description of the travel bans please click here.

When will the travel bans be lifted?

On September 20, 2021, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, announced the Biden administration’s plans to lift the geographic COVID-19 travel ban restrictions in early November for individuals who can prove that they are fully vaccinated against Coronavirus and can show a negative Coronavirus test taken within 72 hours prior to their flight’s departure to the United States. Unfortunately, the White House has not yet released their own official announcement with the complete details of who will qualify and general guidelines. Once those details have been released, we will be posting them right here on our blog.

Are there any exceptions to the vaccine requirement?

Exceptions from the vaccine requirement will be made where it is not age-appropriate for an individual to receive the vaccination (less than 12 years old), where a documented medical contra-indication exists, and in regions where the COVID-19 vaccine is not routinely available according to CDC guidelines.

What are the recommendations for Americans returning from travel abroad?

The White House is continuing to encourage American travelers to be fully vaccinated against Coronavirus. Those who are not fully vaccinated must take a negative COVID-19 test three days before entry to the United States. The CDC will also be implementing a contact tracing system which will require every airline to report information to CDC regarding possible infections.

Why have these travel bans been in place for so long?

The White House has said that the COVID-19 related travel bans have been in place for so long because the Biden administration has been busy putting implementing a contact tracing system to create alternative solutions to guard against the virus. The administration has also waited for vaccinations to become readily available in more and more countries, as well as a drop in Coronavirus cases worldwide.

Why was this decision just announced?

Biden’s plan to rescind the travel bans for those fully vaccinated against Coronavirus was provided in advance of the holiday season to give foreign travelers enough time to make arrangements to take the vaccine. The early announcement is also helping airlines prepare for the busy travel season ahead.

Isn’t this decision going to increase the risk of infection?

The administration does not believe its decision is risky. Instead, they believe it will encourage travelers to receive the vaccine against Coronavirus which will help reduce rates of transmission.

 What kind of proof of vaccination will be required?

The CDC is now working on guidelines that will clearly outline which vaccines will be approved and what sort of documentation must be provided as proof of vaccination against the Coronavirus.

Non-Essential Travel Continues to be Restricted

As a reminder, non-essential travel to the United States is still prohibited.  “Non-essential” travel is travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. “Essential travel” still permitted includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

Who is considered an “essential” traveler? 

  • Citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States).
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada or Mexico in furtherance of such work).
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies).
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada and Mexico).
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel.
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

Contact us. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


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.