As of mid-March 2020, countries are responding in various ways to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Concerning immigration and movement of people around the world, these responses generally fall into a few categories, including travel warnings, travel restrictions, health screenings and quarantines, and extensions of immigration status for impacted individuals.
This article addresses the impact of the outbreak on international travel, with specific information from several countries. In a separate article, we addressed how the outbreak affects immigration workplace compliance. All of our COVID-19 articles will be updated as new information becomes available.
In addition to the country-specific information provided below, several general resources are also available to the public. As the situation is changing quickly, check the “last updated” date on websites to be sure you are receiving the most up-to-date information:
- World Health Organization, Health Topics: Coronavirus, https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html; Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- US Department of State, COVID-19 Country Specific Information, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
Travel to and from the United States
As of March 12, the US has responded in a variety of ways:
- Travel warnings. The US has issued travel warnings for several different countries. The only Level 4 (Do not travel) warning related to COVID-19 is for China. Individuals who are considering international travel should check the COVID-19-specific information on their destination country available on the Department of State’s website.
- In-bound travel restrictions – China & Iran. There is currently an entry ban for foreign nationals who have visited China or Iran within 14 days of seeking admission to the US. There are exceptions for US citizens, lawful permanent residents, immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and certain others. See the CDC website for more information.
- In-bound travel restrictions – Europe. Effective March 13, 2020, at 11:59 pm EDT, an entry ban will go into effect for individuals who have been physically present in one of the 26 countries of the Schengen Area within 14 days before their attempted entry. With this restriction, there are exceptions for US citizens, lawful permanent residents, their spouses and children under 21, certain other family members, and certain others. See the White House proclamation for details.
- Quarantine. Currently, the only mandatory quarantine is for US citizens who have visited China’s Hubei Province within 14 days before reentry. However, government agencies are in the process of setting up advanced screenings and quarantine requirements for individuals who are returning from other parts of Mainland China, and these protocols could extend to others as well. Quarantine protocols are changing quickly and vary greatly depending on point of origin and destination.
- Extensions. To date, the US government has not extended immigration status for individuals whose travel plans have been impacted by COVID-19. We will update this article if that changes.
Travel for visa processing is still possible, but travelers may experience difficulty and/or quarantine when returning to the US, depending on where they have traveled.
- Canada has not restricted travel, but is screening arrivals and has the right to quarantine symptomatic travelers.
- The government of Canada is relaxing documentation requirements for immigration applications if documents are unavailable due to COVID-19.
- Mexico is asking travelers to self-report if they have visited any infected countries, have had symptoms, or have been in contact with infected individuals.
- Italy has severely restricted all forms of travel, international and domestic. Travelers to Italy will be required to explain why their travel is urgent.
- India has suspended all existing visas, other than diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment (and project) visas, until April 15, 2020. Visa-free travel for OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India) is also suspended. Foreign nationals and Indian nationals who are permitted to enter India may be quarantined for 14 days, depending on their recent travel history.
- Australia has restricted entry of foreign nationals from mainland China, Iran, the Republic of Korea, and Italy, with certain exceptions.
If you have questions concerning foreign travel during the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact one of our attorneys.