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The Biden administration announced that it would be halting travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi in response to the spreading of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 disease. These restrictions do not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents (or green card holders), or certain specific types of travelers detailed below. These new restrictions are in effect as of November 29th.

As per a recent White House Proclamation, those who are exempt from these restrictions include:

  • any lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States
  • any noncitizen national of the United States;
  • any noncitizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, 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;
  • any noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • any noncitizen traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
  • any noncitizen
    • seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas:  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 categories); or whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
    • any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or who is a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
    • any noncitizen whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
    • any noncitizen or group of noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

This news comes days after the Omicron variant was officially discovered in South America. In the days since, international travel restrictions have been implemented by numerous countries around the world, including Australia, Britain, Israel, Japan, Thailand, and more. We expect additional changes in U.S. travel policy, and will update this information as it becomes available to the public. 

Back in September the Biden administration announced that it would reopen its borders for international travel. Foreign nationals who want to travel to the United States must now provide proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test in the three days before coming to the U.S.

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