The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that beginning Nov. 8 non-U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be permitted to enter the U.S. by land or ferry for both “essential” and “nonessential” reasons.

The U.S. has banned “nonessential” travel across land borders and through ferry ports since March 2020, and DHS indicated last month that the bans would be lifted in November for vaccinated travelers. DHS said that beginning Nov. 8, non-citizen travelers arriving at a U.S. land port of entry or ferry terminal should be prepared to:

  • Provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
  • Verbally attest to their reason for travel and COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection.

Vaccinated travelers will be permitted entry for “essential” and “nonessential” reasons, including tourism or visiting family. Between Nov. 8 and January 2022, unvaccinated travelers will be permitted to enter if they are engaging in “essential” travel. The list of individuals engaging in “essential travel” includes:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the U.S.
  • People traveling to work in the U.S. (e.g., agricultural workers) or engage in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers transporting goods).
  • Those traveling to attend school, to receive medical treatment or for public health purposes.

Beginning in January 2022, foreign nationals will be required to show proof of vaccination, whether they are entering for “essential” or “nonessential” reasons.

Additional Information: DHS posted an updated Fact Sheet and FAQ on the new policies. The U.S. will also implement new rules on Nov. 8 for nonimmigrant foreign nationals entering the country by air.

BAL Analysis: Current entry restrictions will remain in place until Nov. 8. BAL attorneys will be speaking at a webinar on “Lifting the Travel Bans, Holiday Travel & Planning: What to Expect in the Coming Months” on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. CT. Find details and register here. Employers and employees should continue to consult their BAL professional before planning any international travel.

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

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