Travel restrictions in the United States


Travel is not easy in the Covid era, and the regulations in this regard change with unsettling speed. If before to enter the United States as a tourist, one was enough a valid passport and an ESTA authorization, today this is not enough. Even those who have already requested this authorization in advance must check the rules of entry and exit from the country, even if only for a stopover or a transit of another type.

So let’s see what are the travel restrictions for those who go to the United States to date.

Which countries need to pay attention to restrictions

Anyone, except US citizens, legal permanent residents, and close family members, who have been to the following countries in the past 14 days cannot enter the United States at this time:

China, Iran, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, European Schengen Region (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City), India.

In addition, the United States has reached agreements with both the Canada than with Mexico to temporarily limit all non-essential travel, including leisure travel, across land borders. Air travel is permitted between the United States and Canada and Mexico.

What are the test requirements

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers to present a test result COVID-19 negative before entering the United States.

Air passengers will need to undergo a viral test within three days prior to flight departure to the United States and provide the airline with written documentation of their lab test.

Airlines must confirm negative test result for all passengers or recovery documentation prior to boarding. If a passenger fails to provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny the passenger boarding.

And the quarantine?

Travelers entering the United States from a foreign country must comply with the guidelines CDC recommended regarding self-quarantine or self-isolation periods. The highly recommended quarantine period is 7 days.

The exceptions for those who carry out research or have a medical degree

For travelers from one of the countries listed above (or flying via one of these countries), a valid visa stamp in their passport and a ‘boarding letter’ granting permission to enter the United States will be required. before departure.

The U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security have the power to grant visas and allow entry to the United States based on several exceptions, including the national interest of the United States. By consulting the website of the local US consulate it will be possible to obtain information on how to possibly obtain an emergency visa.

For those who, for example, have to carry out a research project at universities such as UCSF, first of all they will need to receive a letter from their UCSF supervisor / PI describing how the visit will contribute to the national interest of the United States. The embassy will provide further instructions to those eligible for a waiver from the order when entering the United States.

If you are unable to obtain a “boarding letter” and still want to travel to the United States to start your research or employment program with UCSF, the only other option is to spend 14 days in a country that is not barred from entering the United States.

The ISSO cannot recommend a specific country, and also ensures that the chosen country does not end up being subject to entry blocks or that there are regular flights from that country to the United States. To minimize risks and reduce uncertainty, it will be necessary to obtain accurate and constant information. What is certain is that you cannot transit through a country that is barred from entering the United States unless you have a boarding letter.

To conclude

As burdensome as it may be to be subjected to such a number of restrictions, it must be borne in mind that non-essential travel should be avoided for the common good. Those who travel for work, for research or for reasons that bring added value recognized by the States, can move to request the necessary visas through the consulate of reference. On the other hand, those who want to visit the States for tourism and entertainment will have to be patient waiting for more serene and peaceful moments in terms of Covid.


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