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Covid-19 – Can I Travel to the U.S.?

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Can I Travel to The U.S. For a Vacation or to Visit Family?

Due to COVID-19 and certain U.S. travel restrictions, many people are wondering if they can travel to the U.S. as tourists (for vacation) or to visit their families. This blog post will summarize some considerations you should keep in mind if you want to travel to the U.S. as a tourist (on either ESTA/B-2 visa).

Whether or not you can come to the U.S. as a tourist will depend on certain factors such as from which country you are travelling to the U.S., whether you are entering the U.S. via land border/air travel, or whether you need to apply for a B-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate prior to your travel.

Please see some considerations you should keep in mind below:

I. In the past 14 days, have you been physically present in one of the following countries?

  • Schengen area countries
  • UK and Ireland
  • China
  • Iran
  • Brazil
  • South Africa

If you have been physically present in one of the countries above in the past 14 days prior to your entry to the U.S., then your entry to the U.S. would be denied.

Certain travelers coming to the U.S. from the Schengen Area countries or the UK or Ireland can qualify for a National Interest Exception (“NIE”). However, under the new NIE guidance, only very narrow category of travelers can qualify for the NIE (e.g. travelers who are coming to the U.S. to provide vital support in the critical infrastructure sector). Please see our blog on the NIE when you click here.

Please note that if you spend at least 14 days in a country that is not on the list of restricted countries, you can enter the U.S. as a tourist.

Example 1

You are a national of Italy and you reside in Italy. You spent 16 days on a vacation in Mexico and you now want to come to the U.S. on ESTA/B-2 visa. Is this allowed?

Yes, this is fine. The presidential proclamation restricting entry to the U.S. do not apply to all nationals of those countries (see the list above), but apply to people who were physically present in those countries in the past 14 days prior to their entry to the U.S. In the example above, because you spent 16 days in Mexico, you could come to the U.S. as a tourist even though you are an Italian national.

Example 2

You are a national of Mexico but you reside in Germany and you are currently in Germany. You want to come to the U.S. to visit your family. Is this fine?

No. Because Germany is on the list of restricted countries, you would need to spend at least 14 days in a country that is not on a list of restricted countries (e.g. Mexico), prior to your entry to the U.S.

II. Are you travelling to the U.S. from Canada/Mexico via land border?

The U.S./Canada and the U.S./Mexico land borders are currently closed for non-essential travel (such as tourism).

If you are in Canada/Mexico and you want to come to the U.S. to for example visit your family, you can take a flight as the air travel is currently not restricted to essential travel only (even if you are coming for the purposes of tourism/visit your family, you can come to the U.S. if you fly).

III. Do you need an ESTA or a B-2 visa to enter the U.S.?

Please note that if you need an ESTA to enter the U.S., you can still apply for an ESTA during Covid. Please see our blog post on whether you can apply for an ESTA during COVID when you click here.

If you need a B-1/B-2 visa to enter the U.S., it may take you some time to get this visa at a U.S. Consulate. Please note that some U.S. Consulates (e.g. some Consulates in the Schengen area countries are not currently issuing B-2 tourist visas). You should check the website of the Consulate where you will be applying to see the status of the Consulate’s current visa operations.

Based on the above, you can still come to the U.S. for the purposes of tourism/to visit your family, but there are currently several Presidential Proclamations in effect that restrict entry to the U.S.

If you are not sure whether you can come to the U.S., you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney.

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