Ban Imposed on Travelers From Europe Due to Coronavirus Threat

Trump issues proclamation limiting travel to the U.S. from Europe starting on March 13th.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Donald Trump has issued a third of a series of proclamations restricting travel, quickly followed by a fourth one, both of them affecting Europe.

The third proclamation prohibits many foreign nationals from entering the United States after having been physically present in the Schengen Area of Europe within 14 days before requesting entry, effective March 13, 2020. These countries fall within the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The fourth proclamation bars U.S. entry to foreign nationals who have been physically present in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) or Ireland from entering the U.S., starting March 16, 2020, at 11:59 pm EST.

Realize, however, that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials can individually declare entrants inadmissible for health or other reasons.

As for how long these bars will last, that is uncertain; although 30 days was originally announced, the language of both the proclamations make clear they will remain in effect until Trump announces their termination.

Most U.S. citizens and residents and their families are not subject to these bans. Specifically, this applies to:

  • U.S. citizens and their spouses
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and their spouses
  • foreign national parents or legal guardians of unmarried U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents under age 21
  • foreign national siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, if both are under age 21
  • foreign national children, foster children, or wards of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, or prospective adoptees seeking to enter the U.S. on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
  • foreign nationals traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for purposes related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus
  • foreign air or sea crewmembers
  • certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO), G, and NATO nonimmigrant visa holders, and
  • members of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses and children.

People in the above groups can potentially expect, however, to face long waits, and to be screened and possibly quarantined upon arrival or asked to quarantine at home. Based on news reports, it's clear that border officials are struggling to interpret the precise terms of the proclamations. Long lines and chaos have been widely reported.

Exceptions to the travel bars can be made for certain foreign nationals, including those whose entry would either:

  • not pose a risk of transmitting the virus, as determined by the CDC
  • further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, or
  • be in the U.S. national interest.

In addition, the State Department announced in July 2020 that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for national interest exceptions. It stated that qualified business and student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States even as the travel bans remain in effect.

What's more, the State Department said that students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. J-1 visa-holding students from those areas should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to request an exception.

Speak to an attorney for more information or to apply for one of the above exceptions.

Effective Date: March 13, 2020