A White House proclamation imposing an entry ban on foreign nationals who have been in Brazil in the past two weeks took effect Tuesday. It is one of a number of COVID-19 travel restrictions that remain in effect even as states, localities and businesses move to reopen.

Current restrictions are as follows:

  • Country-based entry restrictions. Travel from Brazil, China (not including Hong Kong or Macau), Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom and any of Europe’s 26-member Schengen Area countries is restricted. Foreign nationals who have been in any of these countries within 14 days of attempting to enter the United States will be denied entry. The restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, foreign nationals whose entry is in the U.S. national interest or a limited number of others. The restrictions are indefinite and will remain in effect until the president terminates them.
  • Immigrant visa entry ban. Entry of immigrant-visa applicants is suspended. This suspension only applies to entry on immigrant (i.e., permanent) visas and does not apply to temporary visas (e.g., H-1B, L-1 or other nonimmigrant visa categories). The order only applies to applicants who were outside the U.S. and did not have a visa or other type of travel document permitting them to travel to the U.S. when the suspension took effect on April 23. In addition, a number of categories of people are excluded from the suspension, including spouses and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens, healthcare professionals working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, those applying for EB-5 immigrant investor visas, individuals whose entry is in the national interest, individuals who would further U.S. law enforcement objectives, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and a limited number of others. The suspension is in effect until June 22 and may be extended. Because most routine consular services remain suspended, the impact of this proclamation will likely depend on whether it is extended beyond 60 days.
  • Visa services and travel abroad. Routine visa services at embassies and consulates around the world are suspended. It is not clear when normal visa services will resume or how they will be affected by COVID-19 safety protocols when they do. The U.S. State Department has directed those requiring emergency appointments to follow guidance posted on the relevant embassy website. The department has also issued a worldwide level 4 travel advisory, urging Americans to avoid international travel at this time.
  • Land borders with Canada and Mexico. Non-essential travel across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico is suspended. The list of individuals permitted to engage in “essential travel” includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States; and people traveling to work in the United States (e.g., agricultural workers), engaging in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers transporting goods), or traveling to attend school, receive medical treatment, for public health purposes, or a limited number of other reasons. The restrictions do not include air or sea travel, but do apply to passenger rail, passenger ferry travel and pleasure boat travel. The restrictions are in place until June 22, but may be extended, rescinded or modified.

BAL Analysis: Travel to the U.S. remains limited by country-based entry bans, the suspension of entry for immigrant visa applicants, limitations on consular services abroad, and the suspension of non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders. Employers should account for affected employees and reschedule travel if necessary. BAL continues to closely monitor COVID-19 related developments, including potential new restrictions, and will provide updates as new information becomes available.

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

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