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US Travel Restrictions & Exceptions Update

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

US Travel Restrictions & Exemptions Update

On January 25th, 2021, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation reinstating the US travel ban for non-US travelers arriving from Europe and Brazil. Travelers who have recently been to South Africa were also added to the restricted list in response to rising cases of the South African COVID variant.

The previous restrictions had been set to expire on January 26th, 2021, following an order by President Trump, but will now remain in place until terminated by President Biden.

The ban will be reviewed every 30 days.

What are the restrictions?

The restrictions apply to non-US nationals who have been present in any of the following countries within 14 days of arriving into the US, unless the traveler qualifies for an exception:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom,
  • Schengen area countries: 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.

Where the individual does not fall under an exception, they must spend 14 days in a non-subject country prior to entering the US.

Exceptions to the US travel ban

Travel deemed to be in the National Interest may be exempt from the ban. Travelers such as H-1B and L-1 visa holders or B visa business travellers will need to secure a National Interest Waiver before travelling to the US.

The following travelers are also not subject to the ban:

  • US citizens and nationals
  • US lawful permanent residents
  • Foreign nationals who are the spouses or children of US citizens or lawful residents
  • Foreign nationals who are the parent or legal guardian of an unmarried US citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 21
  • Foreign nationals who are the child, foster child or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
  • Foreign nationals who are the sibling of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, where both are under 21
  • Foreign nationals seeking to enter the US at the invitation of the US government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus
  • Members of the US armed forces and their spouses and children
  • Foreign air or sea crewmembers
  • Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO employees), G, and NATO nonimmigrants
  • Foreign nationals whose presence in the US would be in the national interest, or would advance US law enforcement objectives

All travelers should ensure they meet all requirements in place for arrivals on the intended date of travel. For example, the current travel ban is in addition to the requirement on all international arrivals over the age of two – including US citizens and lawful permanent residents – to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling to the US.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the pandemic on US immigration policy and application processing.

As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: February 8, 2021. 


Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law (AILA) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.