DHS and CDC have announced a new travel restriction at the Southern and Northern borders due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. According to the announcement, DHS will do what it can (including repatriation flights) to prevent the introduction of “affected individuals” into “congregate settings” at land ports of entries (POEs) or Border Patrol Stations at or near the Mexican and Canadian borders.
Basically, those “affected individuals” are undocumented individuals who end up remaining at POEs or Border Patrol Stations for hours and days or more. CDC is issuing this rule because the POEs and Border Patrol Stations simply do not have the medical equipment or facilities to deal with these large numbers of people safely during the pandemic.
The order does not apply to:
- U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and their spouses and children;
- Members of the U.S. armed forces, associated personnel, and their spouses and children;
- Persons from foreign countries who hold valid travel documents;
- Persons from foreign countries in the visa waiver program who are not otherwise subject to travel restrictions; or
- Persons DHS, in consultation with CDC, determines should be excepted based upon the totality of circumstances, including consideration of significant law enforcement, officer and public safety, humanitarian, and public health interests.
The order does not specifically address individuals appearing at the POE for in-person TN or L-1 applications. Although CDC probably did not intend to include this group of individuals as “covered aliens,” inconsistent interpretation by each individual POE is possible.
It was previously announced that individuals attempting to enter the United States from Canada or Mexico for non-essential purposes would be turned back from land border crossings until at least April 20, 2020. Non-essential purposes include travel for tourism, including, but not limited to, sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events.
This is on top of previously issued travel suspensions issued by President Donald Trump for individuals seeking entry from:
- China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau);
- The 26 Schengen Zone Countries; and
- The United Kingdom and Ireland.
There are still certain individuals from the following countries who cannot enter the U.S. due to Travel Ban 3.0:
- Iran (again);
- North Korea;
- Somalia; and
If you have questions about the various restrictions and bans, please reach out to a Jackson Lewis attorney. We will continue to provide updates on U.S. travel restrictions as they become available.