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international travel, VISA RESTRICTIONS, AND U.S.- MEXICO BORDER RESTRICTIONS
International Travel and State Department Travel Advisories
On August 6, 2020, in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Department lifted the Global Level 4 Health Advisory that had been in place since March 19, 2020 advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to its previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions. This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country.
The State Department’s COVID-19 Travel Advisories are informed by CDC’s expert judgement of the health situation as well as other factors related to travel, infrastructure, healthcare resources, and potential closures and restrictions in the country which are important for U.S. citizens to consider. The State Department continues to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.
U.S. citizens considering traveling abroad should review the entire Travel Advisory for their destination(s) on Travel.State.gov. A full list of recent updates to Travel Advisories can be found HERE.
If you are worried that your loved one was affected by this crisis, there are various ways to try and get in touch, including contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country they are located in. A full list of diplomatic mission contact information can be found HERE. Our office is always happy to reach out to the necessary missions on your behalf and it is important for individuals in-country to keep in close contact with the local Embassy or Consulate as best they can for current, on the ground, country specific updates. We are continuously collecting information from all constituent inquiries and making sure it is passed to the relevant missions overseas.
We encourage constituents to stay informed via State Department resources such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/travelgov/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/TravelGov), and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (https://step.state.gov/) to receive timely Alerts about evolving health and safety conditions in their planned destinations.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): You can enroll in STEP before or at any time during your overseas travel. If you or anyone you know are currently overseas and having trouble getting back to the U.S., make sure they are registered in STEP immediately. You will receive timely alerts on the latest safety and security information for your destination country so you can make informed decisions about your travel. The information you provide enables the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency and keep you updated on U.S. and country specific resources during a crisis. For more information and to enroll in STEP go HERE.
Below are some additional helpful resources to consider when planning any international travel while the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing:
- Department of State general and country-specific travel advisories found HERE
- CDC Travel FAQs and precautions
- U.S. Embassy websites for country-specific guidance found HERE
- General “Know Before You Go” guidance for each country
- Review websites for Immigration and Border Security FAQs for any country you are planning to visit.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON U.S. PASSPORT OPERATIONS: Frequently Asked Questions
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR NON-U.S. CITIZENS SEEKING TO ENTER THE UNITED STATES
Since January, the President has issued several Proclamations that suspend or limit travel to the United States for nationals or visitors of certain countries. Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and 10041 (Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus and Other Appropriate Measures To Address This Risk) restrict travel for individuals who were physically present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, or Brazil in the 14 days preceding entry to the United States. All of these restrictions still remain in place but the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security continue to provide guidance and review cases that may be granted a “National Interest Exception.”
These restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent residents, or the spouses, parents, children, or legal guardians of these individuals. Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Schengen Area may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations.
Several categories of National Interest Exceptions for travelers from the Schengen area, United Kingdom and Ireland can be found HERE.
The full text of these proclamations, exemptions and other details can be found HERE.
U.S.–MEXICO TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
In an effort to keep residents on both sides of the border safe and healthy, the United States and Mexico have announced temporary travel restrictions for crossing the U.S.–Mexico border that are related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Starting at 11:59 p.m. on March 20, 2020, travelers engaged in non-essential travel will not be allowed to cross into the United States. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States will not be impacted by these restrictions. Additionally, individuals who are engaged in cross-border trade (such as truck drivers) or individuals traveling to work in the United States, including agricultural workers, will be allowed to cross if they have valid authorization to do so. In general, the restrictions apply to individuals crossing the border for tourism, sightseeing or to attend cultural events. Each individual port director has some flexibility to determine to make exceptions as to what travel is considered essential. The Administration has extended these restrictions until October 21, 2020.
On August 21, 2020, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced plans to further reduce non-essential travel across the Southwest border by limiting hours and lanes at select ports of entry. These operational changes will be applied at the Douglas, Nogales, and San Luis ports in Arizona meaning there will be a decreased number of vehicle and pedestrian lanes open during peak non-essential travel times to include nights and weekends. CBP will continuously monitor the situation at all ports to determine what changes to hours and lanes may be needed and ensure essential workers who must cross the border each day are not negatively impacted.
Who can cross into the United States from Mexico with valid authorization:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes
- Individuals traveling to school
- Individuals traveling for work in the U.S., such as agricultural workers
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (i.e. truck drivers)
- Members of U.S. Armed Forces
Who can’t cross the United States from Mexico:
- Individuals traveling for tourism purposes
- Individuals traveling for recreation purposes
- Individuals traveling to attend cultural events
PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SUSPENDING CERTAIN IMMIGRANT VISAS
On April 22, 2020, the President signed a proclamation outlining the suspension of immigrant visas for individuals who would potentially impact the labor market during the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery. This suspension was initially in place for 60 days and extended by the Administration on June 22, 2020 to be effective until December 31, 2020.
Who This Will Impact:
- Individuals outside the United States on the date of the proclamation who are seeking immigrant visas and do not fall into one of the exempt categories.
- Individuals seeking employment-based immigrant visas in the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, or EB-4 preference categories.
- Individuals seeking family-based immigration visas in the F1, F2A, F2B, F3, and F4 categories.
- Individuals seeking visas through the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Who This Will Not Impact:
- Individuals currently in the United States seeking adjustments of status to lawful permanent resident (“green card”) with USCIS.
- Spouses, minor children under 21, and prospective adoptees of U.S. citizens seeking immigrant visas overseas.
- Any member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and any spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Individuals seeking immigrant visas as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, or recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas, including temporary agricultural workers.
- Individuals applying for naturalization, DACA recipients, or other categories of temporary workers currently in the United States.
Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak
On June 22, 2020, the President signed a new proclamation outlining the suspension of certain nonimmigrant visas for individuals who would potentially impact the labor market during the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery. This proclamation will be effective until December 31, 2020 and reviewed within 30 days of June 24, 2020, and every 60 days thereafter while this proclamation is in effect to determine if modifications are necessary. We will continue to track these discussions and advocate for the needs of Arizona businesses and communities.
Who This Will Impact:
- Individuals outside the United States on the date of the proclamation who are seeking nonimmigrant visas in the below categories and do not fall into one of the exempt categories.
- Individuals seeking new H-1B or H-2B visas and any accompanying family members.
- Individuals seeking L visas and any accompanying family members.
- Individuals seeking J visas to participate in the following programs: intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program.
Who This Will NOT Impact:
- Individuals who were in the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation with a valid nonimmigrant visa from one of the above categories.
- Individuals outside the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation who currently have valid nonimmigrant visas in the listed categories.
- Individuals who had another official travel document valid on the effective date of the Proclamation.
- Individuals seeking to enter the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain.
- Spouses or children of U.S. citizens.
The Department of State continues to grant National Interest Exceptions for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.
Travelers who believe they meet a National Interest Exception may request a visa appointment at the closest Embassy or Consulate. Travelers are encouraged to refer to the Embassy/Consulate website for detailed instructions on what services are currently available and how to request an appointment. Please continue to reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any assistance with this process.
Federal coronavirus-response legislation: click HERE.
Specific actions Kyrsten is taking on behalf of Arizona: click HERE.
Visit our main resources page: sinema.senate.gov/corona.