Update Regarding International Travel
As the United States moves closer to lifting the travel ban and with many individuals hoping to begin traveling in and out of the country, it is crucial to remain up-to-date with the newest policies and regulations regarding visas. Staying informed about this ever-changing information will allow individuals traveling internationally to avoid encountering unforeseen problems that may be a hindrance to one’s plans.
Many speculate that within the year 2021, international travel to and from the United States will once again return to what we may remember as “normal.” However, given that combating the spread of COVID-19 is still a prominent issue, this version of “normal” may still seem relatively different. There are still a few noteworthy changes to keep an eye out for when planning for travel.
Traveling to the United States
Moving forward, when the travel ban in the United States is officially lifted, individuals traveling from countries that are currently under a Covid-19-related travel ban will no longer be required to obtain special, advance permission to enter the United States, such as a National Interest Exception. Additionally, demonstrating a basis for a travel ban exemption, such as being a spouse of a U.S. citizen, or being a parent of a minor child U.S. citizen, will no longer be required at that time.
While many changes in travel policies are presumed to occur in the upcoming months, it is important to remember that United States embassies and consulates will continue to exercise caution with regard to a return to “normal”. That being said, these embassies and consulates are currently addressing many, many requests for emergency appointments for individuals to obtain necessary visas. Unfortunately, given the nature of the pandemic, as well as the influx of such requests, the majority of these emergency appointment requests are denied. However, making a general visa appointment at an embassy or consulate may be easier following the initial lowering of restrictions and the “re-opening” of regular or more regular consular processing. Currently, general visa interview appointments at many consular posts are scheduled for months from now – meaning visa renewal in the current environment and foreseeable future will be a challenge. Please plan far ahead if you plan to travel outside the United States to obtain a new visa or renew an expiring visa.
Re-entering the United States
Regarding the United States’ policies about re-entry, much is still unknown and, more so, subject to change. It is possible the United States may require COVID-19 vaccination when returning to the country after international travel. Further, a negative COVID-19 test continues to be required for all individuals 2 years of age or older who are re-entering the country.
The impact COVID-19 has had on international travel is obvious, and because of the fact that some of these policies are more than likely to change in the upcoming weeks and months, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in travel requirements.
If you have questions regarding your immigration status or how to obtain or renew a visa, do not hesitate to contact our firm.