New Omicron Travel Bans for Certain African Nations
On November 26, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation 10315 (PP 10315)
suspending and limiting entry to the United States for certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present in countries where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected. The Proclamation became effective at 12:01AM on November 29, 2021.
Who is Covered Under the Proclamation?
The Proclamation covers individuals who were physically present within the following African nations during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States:
- Republic of South Africa
- Republic of Botswana
- Kingdom of Eswatini
- Kingdom of Lesotho
- Republic of Malawi
- Republic of Mozambique
- Republic of Namibia
- Republic of Zimbabwe
The Proclamation also mentions that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shall also implement other mitigation measures for travelers from these countries destined for the United States.
Who is Excepted from the Proclamation?
The Proclamation DOES NOT apply to the following individuals:
- Any lawful permanent resident of the United States.
- Any noncitizen national of the United States.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens or LPRs.
- Parents of U.S. citizens or LPRs that are unmarried and under the age of 21.
- Siblings of U.S. citizens or LPRs, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.
- Any noncitizen who is 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 pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications.
- Air or sea crew members traveling on C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visas.
- Any noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for purposes relating to containing or mitigating the COVID-19 virus.
- Any noncitizens who are:
- seeking entry pursuant to the following visa classifications: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee's immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO classifications), or
- whose travel falls within section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.
- Any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a spouse of child of a member.
- Any noncitizen whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives.
- Any noncitizen whose entry would be considered in the national interest, as determined by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security.
CBP has issued guidance that any NIE granted to a noncitizen under previous proclamations are void with respect to this Proclamation.
Relationship with Other Travel Restrictions, Including Presidential Proclamation 10294 and Title 19 Restrictions
Those who qualify for an exception under PP 10315 may still be subject to an entry suspension limitations or restrictions, as a result of Proclamation 10294 (PP 10294), which became effective on November 8, 2021, which adopted vaccination requirements for all international air travelers to the United States and Title 19 non-essential travel restrictions. Guidance issued by the CBP confirms that any NIE granted under PP 10315 will not exempt a traveler from testing and/or vaccination requirements under PP 10294, and the CBP Title 19 non-essential travel restrictions.
Impact on Individuals Seeking Humanitarian Protection
The Proclamation states that it does not limit the ability of individuals to apply for asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
The Proclamation will remain in effect until it is terminated by the President. The Secretary of HHS will recommend whether the President should continue, amend, or terminate the Proclamation, no more than 30 days after the date of the Proclamation and the final day of each month after that.
*This update is courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) of which our firm is an active member.
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