The United States will open its northern and southern land borders to fully vaccinated foreign nationals sometime in November 2021. When this happens, it will be the first time since March 2020 that these individuals will be able to enter the United States from Canada and Mexico for “non-essential” purposes, such as tourism, shopping, and family gatherings.

The reopening is expected to occur in two phases. During the first phase, fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be able to enter for non-essential purposes. Unvaccinated individuals will still be able to enter for essential purposes, including for work. During the second phase, scheduled to go into effect in early January 2022, all foreign nationals, whether entering for essential purposes or not, will have to be fully vaccinated. The expectation is that there will be limited exceptions, for example for children.

The “essential travel” restrictions applied only to land and sea borders. Foreign nationals have been able to fly into the United States from Canada or Mexico if they met the COVID-19 testing requirements. In November, however, new COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements will be in place for all air travel. All foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States from anywhere, with limited exceptions, will have to be fully vaccinated, as well as show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. Unvaccinated U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the United States and undergo testing upon arrival.

The United States is a little late to the border game. Canada reopened its border to fully vaccinated Americans on August 9, 2021, and to other fully vaccinated foreign nationals on September 7, 2021. It is still not clear exactly when the new U.S. rules will become effective. The United States already announced that the 14-day travel restrictions on China, Iran, the UK and Ireland, the 26 Schengen Zone countries, Brazil, South Africa, and India are scheduled to be lifted sometime in “early” November. The northern and southern border restrictions will be lifted at the same time. We are still awaiting official guidance on documentation requirements and the implementation date.

Jackson Lewis attorneys will provide updates as they become available.

Essential travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, first instituted in March 2020, between the United States and Canada (and Mexico), will continue until July 21, 2021, or be lifted sooner for fully vaccinated individuals. This is welcome news for communities on both sides of the Northern Border that have been feeling the familial and economic pain.

Not only are Canadians and Americans missing their family members and friends who live on the other side of the border, but many of the small U.S. towns along the Northern Border have suffered from the disruption of “a symbiotic relationship” with Canadian consumers. Because prices on common consumer goods such as gasoline and milk are considerably lower in the United States, Canadians used to be able to simply cross the border for purchases. But due to travel restrictions, sales have dropped off precipitously. Canadians used to have items shipped to U.S. border towns to avoid the high cost of international shipping to Canada. But since they can no longer easily cross the border to pick up their packages, mailbox service firms are flooded with goods that have not been picked up or are simply losing money every month for lack of business. Although large chain stores are better able to absorb these temporary losses, small businesses cannot, and they are anxious to have the restrictions lifted.

There is hope, however, that the restrictions are easing. Working groups have been established to study the issue, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that restrictions will not be lifted until 75 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated. Canada’s chief medical officer has estimated that if vaccinations continue at current rates, that goal may be reached within weeks. Further, as of 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on July 5, 2021, restrictions on fully vaccinated individuals (who are otherwise eligible to enter Canada, i.e., not subject to essential travel restrictions) will be eased. Fully vaccinated individuals who have had the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines will no longer need to quarantine, participate in a mandatory hotel stay, or take COVID-19 tests eight days after their arrival if they meet the eligibility requirements. Whether they do or not will be decided at the border.

To qualify for the “fully vaccinated” exemption, travelers must, among other things:

  • Submit COVID-19-related information into ArriveCAN in advance of arrival;
  • Meet pre- and on-arrival test requirements;
  • Be asymptomatic;
  • Have an acceptable quarantine plan (in case quarantine is necessitated); and
  • Carry written proof of vaccination in English or French (or with a certified translation).

A detailed outline of the requirements is on the Government of Canada website.

Please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions about continuing COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The United States-Canada border is not only the world’s longest international border, but it includes some of the busiest commercial crossings in North America. New travel restrictions have been implemented as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Non-Essential Travel Ban

The land border has been closed to “non-essential” travel since March 2020 due to COVID-19. Restrictions include:

  • Individuals are not admitted for tourism, sightseeing, recreation, gambling, attending cultural events, or other non-essential purposes. They are admitted for “essential” purposes, which include travel for work, medical reasons, to attend educational institutions, and diplomatic or military related travel.
  • Citizens or permanent residents of the country they are entering are excepted from the ban.
  • Testing Requirements
    • Anyone entering Canada at a land port of entry must show a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of seeking entry.
    • No parallel testing requirement for entering U.S. land ports of entry.

The “non-essential” travel ban does not apply to individuals entering the United States or Canada by air. However, testing requirements apply:

Quarantine Requirements

While the U.S. government has the authority to enforce quarantines upon entry, the current CDC guidelines have no specific penalties for failure to comply. Canada regulations, on the other hand, include penalties.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with any questions regarding travel between Canada and the United States, as well as any other international travel.

As governments and people all over the world await more scientific data about the transmissibility and danger of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, countries are quickly issuing travel restrictions – primarily restricting travel from southern Africa. The restrictions vary from full border closures to suspending flights, enforcing quarantines, restricting arrivals, and requiring testing.

The list will likely grow and change, but as of this date and time, the countries enforcing restrictions include:

Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, and the United States.

While some nations, like Japan, have opted for stringent measures, such as closing their borders to international travelers entirely, other countries have opted for targeted travel closures. Most of the bans restrict entry by individuals who have been in the subject countries within 14 days of travel. The countries subject to many of these bans are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These countries, all in southern Africa, are condemning the restrictions as a punishment for being open and transparent about the emerging strain, noting that Omicron has already been found in other countries, including Scotland and Canada. Indeed, the new variant reportedly was found as early as November 19, 2021, and is in 20 countries, including those in Europe.

Given the changing circumstances, checking with airlines and embassies prior to travel is essential.

As long as they can show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, foreign travelers will be allowed to visit the United States beginning November 8, 2021, according to the Biden Administration.

Until now, we knew only that the 14-day travel restrictions and the northern and southern border restrictions would be lifted sometime in November. Now, it has been reported that all these restrictions will be lifted, and new vaccination requirements will take effect on November 8, 2021.

On September 20, 2021, the Administration announced it would lift the 14-day travel restrictions that affected individuals trying to enter the United States from China, Iran, the UK and Ireland, the 26 Schengen Zone countries, Brazil, South Africa, and India in November. The quid pro quo for that was that all foreign travelers from any country would have to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test three days before their proposed entry date to board an airplane to the United States.

On October 14, 2021, the Administration announced the northern and southern border restrictions that had been in place since March 2020 would be lifted when the 14-day travel restrictions were lifted and, at that time, fully vaccinated individuals could enter for any purpose. One proviso: unvaccinated individuals will still be able to enter the United States until January 2022 at land and sea ports of entry, but only if they are entering for “essential” purposes – such as work.

Details about exceptions or exemptions have not been released. We will provide updates as soon as those are available.

In a tweet on August 20, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced that:

“To minimize the spread of COVID19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossing with Canada and Mexico through September 21, while continuing to ensure the flow of essential trade and travel.”

The closure on the United States side continues although Canada has opened its border to fully vaccinated American citizens and green card holders and hopes to open the border to other foreign nationals by September 7, 2021.

If you have questions about these restrictions, please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney.

The hoped-for opening of the U.S.-Canadian border is set to begin in August.

Canada plans to open its land borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents for non-essential travel at 12:01 a.m. on August 9, 2021. The United States, however, has extended its land border travel restrictions on the northern and southern borders until August 21, 2021.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are residing in the United States (who are not otherwise exempt from the travel restrictions) will be able to enter Canada at land borders for discretionary travel, i.e., tourism, with proof of vaccination in English or French. Individuals must be 14 days out from full vaccination to be eligible.

Requirements include:

*            Translations of proof of vaccination will be accepted if accompanied by the original vaccination certificates.

*            Travelers should use ArriveCAN to submit travel information, including proof of vaccination.

*            Vaccinations must be from vendors accepted by the Canadian government.

*            Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age will be able to enter Canada if they are travelling with a parent or guardian who is fully vaccinated.

*            Those who cannot receive the vaccinations for health reasons will be able to enter Canada (and the Canadian government will be providing more information on what proof will be required soon).

*            Pre-entry COVID-19 molecular tests will still be required even for fully vaccinated travelers.

*            Quarantines will be required only for individuals who show COVID-19 symptoms.

*            All visitors must adhere to Canada’s COVID-19 health measures, including masking in public places, carrying vaccination proof, and monitoring themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.

Other fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to enter Canada on or about September 7, 2021, if the country’s epidemiological profile “remains favourable.”

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you with questions about travel restrictions.

Travel restrictions related to COVID-19 have been in place for more than a year. Certain restrictions have been removed, but the ones on travel from Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Zone, South Africa, and the United Kingdom remain in effect. The White House wants to remove more restrictions and has announced it is putting together working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and the United Kingdom to “chart a path forward, with a goal or reopening international travel with . . . key partners.”

The groups will include experts from the White House COVID-19 Response Team, the National Security Council, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will focus on real-time data. But a White House official noted, lifting restrictions will not be happening “today.”

The travel industry, and airlines in particular, has been hoping the United States will act quickly to remove the current COVID-19-based restrictions on travel, so their businesses and the economy in general can benefit from the summer season. Airline officials from the United States and the United Kingdom have been urging the lifting of trans-Atlantic restrictions. But they “do not expect Washington to lift restrictions until around July 4 at the earliest as the administration aims to get more Americans vaccinated.”

At the G-7 meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden spoke about travel restrictions on their shared border. The land border is open only to “essential” travel. The essential travel ban has been in effect since March 2020 and keeps being renewed a month at a time. Currently, it is set to expire on June 21, 2021. There was “speculation that the border could reopen as early as June 22.” That does not seem to be in the cards. Trudeau has not wanted to lift restrictions until 75% of all Canadians have had at least one shot of a vaccine – a mark they might meet in July. For now, Canada is working on a phased approach, where the country might first exempt travelers who are fully vaccinated from quarantine rules.

We will provide updates on the possible loosening of travel restrictions as they become available. In the meantime, if you have questions about any of the travel restrictions and need advice about developing strategies for overcoming them, Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you.

 

By tweet, the Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of the travel restrictions at the Northern and Southern land and sea borders until June 21, 2021.  These borders have been closed to “non-essential” travel since March 2020 due to COVID-19.  According to the restrictions:

  • Individuals are not admitted for tourism, sightseeing, recreation, gambling, attending cultural events, or other non-essential purposes.
  • Individual are admitted for “essential” purposes including travel for work, medical reasons, to attend educational institutions, and diplomatic or military-related travel.
  • Citizens and permanent residents of the country they are entering are excepted from the ban.

While these restrictions do not apply to air travel, some families have not been able to see each other for over a year. But, in accordance with its tweet, DHS has stated it is working with Canada and Mexico to “ease restrictions as conditions improve.” Canada’s COVID-19 positivity rate is dropping in some provinces, while infections multiply in others. In the meantime, DOS has issued Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisories for both Canada and Mexico.

Jackson Lewis will provide updates on the travel restrictions as they become available.

Customs and Border Protection has announced that travel restrictions on the Northern and Southern borders will be extended until May 21, 2021.

For close to 400 days, admission at the land ports of entry has been limited to “essential” travel. Essential travel generally includes individuals entering for work, but it does not include any sort of tourism and families have been separated during this time.

Representative Brian Higgins (NY -26), co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, wants to see individuals with family, property, or business interests in Canada exempted from the restrictions and a full reopening of the Northern border by July 2021.

Representative Higgins said: “Families on both sides of the border have been torn apart, people who love each other, parents, grandchildren, unable to see each other …. We need a plan to open the U.S.-Canadian border. With vaccines, face masks and good physical distancing we can do so safely and successfully.” Beyond the essential travel restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements have been imposed as well.

Representative Higgins’ call comes at a time when the Department of State (DOS) is issuing new travel warnings due to “unprecedented” COVID-19 risks in 80 percent of the countries in the world. DOS plans to expand travel advisories and advise U.S. citizens to stay home. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports the top 10 COVID-19 “hot spots” include India, Brazil, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Germany, and the United States.