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The Impact of Coronavirus on Travel and Entry to the United States

The ongoing worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus has led to serious public safety concerns, restrictions, and even bans on international travel.  The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the source of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.  The disease outbreak has also led to several measures by the U.S. Government to control the entry to the United States of individuals potentially exposed to the virus.

On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending and limiting entry into the U.S. as immigrants or nonimmigrants of all individuals who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry. The proclamation became effective at 5:00 pm (ET) on February 2, 2020.

The proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders).  Foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas are excepted from this proclamation.  Other exceptions include certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, including spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21).  There is also an exception for crew traveling to the United States on C, D or C1/D visas.

Additionally, US citizens and others who are allowed to travel to the US from China are being admitted through 11 designated airports where US authorities will conduct extra screening and transfer people if needed. All flights from China have go to the following 11 airports – JFK in New York; ORD in Illinois; SFO in California; SEA in Washington; HNL in Hawaii; ATL in Georgia; EWR in New Jersey; DFW in Texas; DTW in Michigan; LAX in California, and IAD in Virginia. At the designated airports, CBP officials will determine 1) whether a traveler is admissible to the US and (2) if someone needs extra screening or quarantine, at which point travelers will be referred to secondary inspection staffed with medical professionals. Passengers who have been to China in the past 14 days and were not already traveling to one of those airports will have to re-book their flights.

It should be noted that any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province, China in the previous 14 days may be subject to up to 14 days of quarantine. And any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in the rest of mainland China within the previous 14 days may undergo a health screening and possible self-quarantine. If you choose to travel, it is recommended to  enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates. As the situation is changing daily, so are Government policies and restrictions on travel,  so it is advisable to monitor the Travel.state.gov and CDC.gov for important information.