COVID-19: Covaxin added to list of vaccines, new entry policies take effect

8 Nov 21

UNITED STATES

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added Covaxin to the list of vaccines that the U.S. will accept under air and land entry policies that took effect today, Nov. 8.

The CDC added Covaxin after the World Health Organization (WHO) listed it for emergency use last week. The CDC had previously said that for purposes of entering the country, the U.S. would accept COVID-19 vaccines that are listed for emergency use by the WHO or approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The U.S. is now requiring most nonimmigrant foreign nationals to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before boarding a flight for the U.S.

A few key reminders:

  • For purposes of entering the country, the U.S. is accepting electronic or hard-copy proof of vaccination, as detailed here. In general, travelers are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after a single-dose vaccine or two weeks after their second dose of a two-dose vaccine or a “mix-and-match” combination of accepted vaccines.
  • Authorities have revoked country-based “physical presence” bans.
  • Exceptions to the vaccination requirement are available for children under the age of 18, humanitarian or emergency cases, travelers from countries with limited vaccine availability (though not for B-visa travel), individuals with medical contraindications, air crew, noncitizens whose entry is deemed in the national interest and a limited number of others. The full list is available here.
  • Unvaccinated individuals traveling under an exception are required to meet additional health protocols, including providing (1) a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day (rather than three days) before boarding a flight for the U.S. and (2) proof of arrangements to become fully vaccinated within 60 days of arriving in the U.S.
  • The U.S. is also permitting non-U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the U.S. by land or ferry for “nonessential” reasons. More information is available here.

BAL Analysis: Covaxin was developed and is widely used in India; its addition to the CDC’s list of accepted vaccines could make it easier for many travelers from India to meet the vaccination requirement for entering the U.S.

While the new entry rules ease procedures for many vaccinated travelers, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to present travel challenges. The State Department has stressed, for example, that the rescission of the “physical presence” bans “does not necessarily mean that your local U.S. embassy or consulate is able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews.” Applicants are advised to check their local embassy or consulate’s website for information on available services and instructions on applying for nonimmigrant visas.

Employers and employees should continue to consult their BAL professional before planning international travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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