Last week, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation restricting foreign national travelers from most of the EU, with the exception of foreign national travelers from the UK and Ireland. The most recent Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry of all foreign national travelers who have been physically present in the UK, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland, during the 14 days prior to their entry into the US. This proclamation is effective 16 March 2020 11:59 p.m. EDT. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. EDT on 16 March 2020.
Foreign nationals who have been present in the following countries during the 14 days prior to their proposed entry into the US will not be permitted entry:
- People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau
- Islamic Republic of Iran
- the Schengen Area: 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
- the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe
- the Republic of Ireland
Restrictions do not apply to US lawful permanent residents (i.e. green card holders). Other exempted travelers include:
- Immediate relatives (parent, spouse, child, siblings of a certain age) of US citizens or green card holders
- Specific nonimmigrant visa holders: Crew members, diplomats, government officials
- Members of the US armed forces and their family
- Individuals whose entry would be deemed in the national interest or to promote law enforcement objectives
As before, returning US citizens and exempted travelers will be subject to enhanced security screening and could be placed in quarantine for 14 days. Travelers should be prepared for long wait times at the airport. Over the weekend, multiple news outlets reported hours-long delays for US citizens returning from Europe awaiting coronavirus screening.
The latest travel restrictions are in line with measures taken by governments around the world to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries have imposed restrictions of varying degrees on entry of foreign nationals and free movement of travel across borders. Many consular posts have abruptly postponed or cancelled appointments or stopped services, including visa issuance, for foreign nationals altogether.
As the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, employers are increasingly faced with around-the-clock challenges on how to support employees and their families in these unprecedented times. Frequent touch points with international assignees and travelers, and an assessment of immigration considerations and strategies, are critical now more than ever.