President Joe Biden issued an official proclamation Tuesday rescinding travel restrictions for foreign nationals “physically present” in eight countries in Southern Africa.

Key Points:

  • Beginning at 12:01 a.m. EST on Dec. 31, 2021, foreign nationals who have been in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe in the past 14 days will no longer be subject to the temporary entry ban the U.S. imposed on Nov. 29, 2021.
  • A White House spokesperson announced last week that the U.S. would lift the restrictions on Dec. 31. In the official proclamation, Biden said he rescinded the ban consistent with a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Inbound international air travelers will remain subject to COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements.
  • The State Department said consular sections in the eight countries would resume routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services “to the extent they are able.” Applicants whose cases were refused solely due to their presence in a country covered by a regional COVID proclamation are encouraged to contact the embassy or consulate where they made the application to request reconsideration.

BAL Analysis: The lifting of restrictions will ease travel from the countries covered by the ban; however, other COVID-19 travel restrictions and entry requirements remain in place and may change with little notice. Services at consulates abroad remain limited, and the State Department said that the lifting of restrictions “does not necessarily mean” that local embassies and consulates will be able to “immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews.” Applicants should check the relevant embassy or consulate website for information on what services are available and for information on how to apply for a visa. 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

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