Countries around the world continue to lift COVID-19 entry restrictions, and many employers and employees are planning travel abroad this summer. COVID-19 continues to affect travel to the U.S., however, and BAL urges employees to take precautions, consult their BAL professional and weigh key considerations when planning international travel.

Key Considerations:

  • COVID-19 vaccination requirement. The U.S. continues to require most nonimmigrant foreign nationals entering or returning to the country by air to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions.
    • The vaccine must be recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • A similar requirement was recently extended for those entering the country by land or ferryboat.
    • Under a change that took effect on Sunday, June 12, air passengers no longer need to provide documentation of a negative test for COVID-19 or show recovery from a recent COVID-19 infection in order to board a flight to the U.S.
  • U.S. embassy and consulate delays. The pandemic continues to limit the number of visas the State Department can process and the services available at embassies and consulates abroad. Travelers should consult the appropriate embassy or consulate’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding appointment availability and requirements for expedited requests. Officials are taking steps to address the backlog, but delays should be expected throughout the summer.
  • Administrative processing. BAL has seen a recent uptick in visa applications flagged for additional administrative processing. There are a number of reasons this may happen, including if the government wants to conduct more thorough security vetting. Administrative processing often will further delay visa applications. Employers with employees who have an administrative processing case and have a particularly urgent need to be in the country should contact BAL.
  • Passport delays. U.S. passport services continue to be delayed. Routine passport services are taking eight to 11 weeks from the date on which an application is received; expedited services are taking five to seven weeks. Those in need of a passport should apply for one as soon as possible.
  • COVID-19 restrictions in other countries. Many foreign countries are still enforcing COVID-19 travel restrictions and health protocols, including pre-travel testing requirements, screening upon arrival and, in some cases, mandatory quarantines. Many countries have different policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Employees should be aware of their destination country’s requirements and procedures and factor additional time into their travel plans.

BAL Analysis: While many countries are lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions, the U.S. continues to enforce a vaccine requirement for inbound nonimmigrant foreign nationals. Visa and passport services continue to be delayed. 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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