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Omicron variant prompts Presidential Proclamation

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2021 | Firm News

The new omicron variant emerged in southern Africa, but it has quickly spread to many countries, including the United States. It prompted Presidential Proclamation 10315, suspending travel for certain non-immigrants and immigrants from countries where the variant is detected. While the variant is already in the U.S., there are still new travel restrictions and outright bans.

Banned countries

As of November 29, travelers who were in one of the following countries in the last two weeks are not allowed entry:

  • Republic of Botswana
  • Kingdom of Eswatini
  • Kingdom of Lesotho
  • Republic of Malawi
  • Republic of Mozambique
  • Republic of Namibia
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Republic of Zimbabwe

Notable exceptions to this rule

The new ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents (LPR) or citizens of the U.S. It also does not apply to spouses of citizens or LPRs, members of the armed forces who are non-citizens (as well as spouses and children), parents or siblings of U.S. citizens or LPRs that are unmarried and under 21 years old, prospective adoptees, foster children or wards of U.S. citizens or LPRs, and others.

Visa holders with the following classifications are allowed:

  • 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 non-immigrant in one of those NATO classifications)

Significant changes for all travelers

While proof of full vaccination was required for travel to the U.S. from abroad, anyone traveling from abroad will need to show proof of a negative test within 24 hours of departure to the airlines. There are no exceptions, so this rule applies to U.S. citizens and travelers previously vaccinated.  The previous rule for visitors, permanent residents and citizens was 72 hours.

Key questions travelers may have

There are other rules that travelers need to follow. Common questions travelers have about them include:

What type of tests are accepted as proof?

Antigen and nucleic acid amplification are accepted.

Do travelers need to take a second test once they arrive?

They do not need to take another test after landing, but volunteers may choose to before meeting with family or business colleagues. The CDC offers free tests at many airports (including San Francisco International), but rapid testing is also available for a price. Travelers can also do a home test once they arrive.

Rules may change

The rules regarding travel bans can and often do change, so it is good to check with the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs for the most up-to-date official information. Law firms handling immigration and visa matters will also have updated information regarding travel to the United States.