On May 1, 2023, the White House announced that beginning May 12, 2023, foreign nationals entering the United States via airports will no longer be required to provide evidence of vaccination against COVID-19. Additionally, in a concomitant move, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement similarly rescinding the vaccine requirement for certain foreign nationals entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals.
- The termination of the vaccination mandate effectively removes previously imposed COVID-19–related travel restrictions on foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States.
- The White House stated that vaccination against COVID-19 remains “one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees.”
In October 2021, the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance that mandated that foreign nationals (except for U.S. permanent residents) be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to gain entry to the United States from abroad via air, land, or ferry. Subsequent guidance mandated that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel to the United States. Since then, these travel restrictions have gone through various iterations, depending on the circumstances at the time, but they have always either required evidence of vaccination and/or evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test (or evidence of a recent recovery from COVID-19). Now, with this new announcement, the Biden administration has effectively removed all previously imposed COVID-19–related travel restrictions on foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States, stating, “While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees … we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary.”
This announcement is intended to coincide with the end of the official COVID-19 public health emergency. The White House statement noted that “[i]n the coming days, further details related to ending these requirements will be provided.”
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.