The White House said Monday that it plans to reopen the United States to air travelers from 33 countries—including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe—who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, starting in “early November.” No exact date has been given as to when the current travel restrictions, which started early last year, will be lifted, and no further details have been given as to whether COVID testing will also be required to protect from breakthrough cases.
This is an abrupt about-face from last week, when the Biden administration said that it was not the right time to lift restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases. Things can change quickly in immigration policy, and the U.S. has come under intense pressure recently to lift restrictions, as other countries around the world have done so.
The restrictions put in place last year have impacted foreign nationals with businesses and family in the U.S. alike. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. State Department will also act to support this reopening of the borders, or whether the current U.S. government will continue to administratively block some travelers—and particularly, business travelers requiring visas to enter in work authorized status—from obtaining necessary visas to enter the U.S. Since early 2020, the State Department worldwide has largely been claiming that it cannot issue visas to many eligible intending travelers, due to COVID-19 precautions and limitations, and backlogs created by the limited operations of U.S. Embassies and Consulates over the past year and a half.
Travelers coming from countries that are currently on the “restricted entry” list based on a slew of presidential proclamations, but who do not require a visa, should be able to do so soon.
While this is good news for air travelers from around the world, Canadians and Mexicans are still subject to land border restrictions. On Monday, border restrictions were extended again, this time through Oct. 21st, continuing the monthly extension of restrictions first implemented in March 2020.
Please check back for updates as they become available.