Temporary Ban and Quarantine Affects Travel to the U.S. From China, Due to Coronavirus

In response to public health concerns, namely fears of a pandemic as the coronavirus spreads, restrictions placed on travel to the U.S. from China.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

In response to public health concerns, namely fears of a pandemic as the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads and its death toll rises, Trump has issued a proclamation temporarily suspending the entry of some foreign-born persons seeking entry to the United States on immigrant or nonimmigrant (temporary) visas or other forms of entry. Specifically, it bars non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. permanent residents who have been physically present in the People's Republic of China during the 14 days before arriving here.

In addition, the proclamation imposes a 14-day quarantine on U.S. citizens who visited the Hubei Province of China within the 14 days prior to their returning to the United States. Why weren't lawful permanent residents and others mentioned? Many lawyers believe that was a mistake in drafting, and that in actuality, anyone allowed to come to the U.S. can expect the possibility of being quarantined.

Hong Kong and Macau do not count as China for purposes of this proclamation.

Exemptions From the Coronavirus Travel Ban

Not all travelers are affected. The following categories are exempt from the ban (though not necessarily the quarantine):

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and their spouses
  • Parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, if the child is unmarried and under age 21
  • siblings of U.S. citizens, if both are unmarried and under age 21
  • children, foster children, or wards of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or prospective adoptees
  • air or sea crew members (C or D visa holders)
  • A, G, and NATO visa holders
  • people traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government to help with virus containment or in furtherance of law enforcement or the U.S. national interest, and
  • people “whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus," a determination to be made by the CDC Director or designee.

The proclamation does not affect eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Anyone else, however, will be stopped from boarding a plane to the United States.

Quarantines Per the Ban

Travelers who should be quarantined can be stopped from boarding planes to the U.S., or might have to enter quarantine upon arriving.

In supplemental instructions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained that all flights to the U.S. carrying people who have been in China have been directed to one of 11 designated airports across the United States. There, health protocols are in place to process travelers who might have come into contact with the coronavirus. Some will be kept in quarantine on arrival.

A U.S. citizen who has been in China's Hubei Province during the 14 days prior to entry will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, including health care and observation. (Fourteen days is the virus's known incubation period.)

Returning U.S. citizens who were present in other parts of China will be subject to monitoring at certain points of entry. They might be required to implement self-quarantine measures at home.

No Visas Being Issued in China

The U.S. embassy and all consulates in China will be closed starting February 3, offering no visa or other services other than to U.S. citizens needing emergency help.

USCIS is also closing its China field offices. Check its Beijing and Guangzhou web pages for updates on reopening.

Effective Date: February 2, 2020