Vaccine Requirement for US Travel

Do I Need to be Vaccinated to Travel to the United States?

An increasing number of clients are contacting us to ask whether they need to be vaccinated to travel to the United States. President Biden has mandated that most foreign nationals visiting the United States will need to show proof of vaccination from Covid-19 when global travel to the USA opens up on November 8. However, some exemptions will apply.

Which vaccines are accepted for travel to the United States?

Most foreign nationals entering the United States on a non-immigrant visa or as a tourist must show proof of vaccination. The US will accept a wider range of vaccines than just those approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) (Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen). The list of vaccines accepted for inbound travel is expanded to include all World Health Organization vaccines, which includes AstraZenaca, Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac. The Sputnik vaccine is not currently approved by the WHO and therefore not currently accepted for travel.

Are Green Card Holders subject to US Vaccination Requirements for Travel?

US Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) are not subject to the vaccination requirements to enter the United States. However, there are testing requirements to travel. Most of our clients have obtained US permanent residency through the EB-1c Visa (International Managers & Executives), EB-1A Visa (Extraordinary Talent), and EB-5 Visa (Green Card by Investment of $500,000).

Are There Exemptions from the Vaccine Requirements for Travel to the United States?

The US authorities has published a list of exemptions from the vaccination requirements. This includes:

  • Anyone from a country that has limited (<10%) vaccine coverage.
  • Anyone under the age of 18
  • Anyone who can document a medical reason they cannot be vaccinated against Covid-19
  • Anyone granted a humanitarian exception to enter the US
  • Anyone deemed in the national interest of the United States
  • There are also exemptions for diplomats, military families and sea crew.

How does the exemption for countries with limited vaccine coverage work?

Anyone from a country with a vaccine coverage of less than 10% is exempt from showing proof of vaccination at the border. There are currently 50 countries on this list. See list of eligible countries. The list is subject to change as vaccination rates improve. There is still ultimately a requirement for these people to get vaccinated once inside the United States. Please note, this exemption does NOT apply to anyone on an B-1 or B-2 Visa.

Does the exemption apply to L-1 Visa holders and E-2 Visa holders?

Our firm has filed many L-1 and E-2 Visa applications on behalf of clients during Covid. These business migration visas are categorized as “non-immigrant visas” and are therefore NOT exempt from the vaccine requirement. If you are currently inside the US on one of those visas and subsequently leave and attempt to return, you will need to show proof of vaccination status. If you are currently outside the United States with an approved or pending L1 Visa or E2 Visa application you will need to show evidence of vaccination.

The aforementioned list of exemptions apply to L-1 and E-2 Visa holders . So children on E-2 Derivative Visas or L-2 Visas are exempt provided they are under 18 (you can bring dependent children with you to the US on both E-2 and L-1 provided they are under the age of 21.) You may also be eligible for an exemption if you are from a country with low vaccine uptake.

The L-1 Visa allows you to move staff to an existing or newly-established office of your overseas business. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows people from Treaty Countries to move to the US for the purposes of investing in and operating a business.

I do not want to get vaccinated, what are my options?

It is not clear how long the vaccine requirement will remain in place. The processing times for non-immigrant visa application are usually relatively quick. Since Covid-19 has caused closures and slowdowns at US embassies and at the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), processing times have increased. Anyone considering an application today, may find that current waiting times will exceed the vaccine rules. But there is no guarantee of this. As with everything during Covid, uncertainty abounds. An alternative is to seek a permanent residency option. The EB-5 Visa (Green Card by investment) is one of the most popular among our clients especially as the minimum investment requirement dropped to $500,000 in June. Yet processing times for permanent residency take longer than for non-immigrant visas.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


US reopen to all vaccinated travelers

US Travel Ban to be Lifted on November 8th

President Biden has announced the United States will reopen to all vaccinated travellers who can produce a negative test from November 8, ending a twenty-month ban on most visitors from a range of countries worldwide.

Under the Covid-19 travel ban, most people who had been in the Europe, the UK, China, India, South Africa and Brazil in the past 14 days were prohibited from traveling to the United States. The lifting of the ban means anyone can enter the United States provided they are fully vaccinated and can produce a negative test.

Many of our clients have put their US plans on hold until they can be physically present in the United States. For example, some of our E-2 Visa clients have expressed an interest in visiting the US to search for businesses before commencing their application. Similarly, some EB-5 Visa applicants have wanted to visit the US to view a Regional Center project, but changes to the program (investment thresholds and reauthorization) have played a greater role in decision making than Covid-19.

Despite the imminent lifting of the travel ban, Covid-19 continues to have an impact on US immigration. It has caused a slow down in processing at both the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and at US embassies and consulates worldwide. Some embassies are back to near-normal services, while others remain closed. Either way there is a backlog of applications to process and clients are advised to act soon to position themselves in the line.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which allows people to invest in and actively run a business in the United States has remained open to applicants throughout the pandemic. At a time when President Trump closed most other categories, the E-2 remained open to new applicants. This visa is governed by treaties with sovereign governments and is less exposed to political changes in Washington. The country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant treaty for you to be eligible. Click here to find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If it does not, you first have to obtain citizenship of an E-2 country – see Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Program – before you can apply for the E-2 Visa.

E-2 Visa Processing only involves your local embassy and does not involve the USCIS. In normal times, processing times are very quick, which means the whole Grenada + E2 Visa process could take nine months on average. Covid has increased that time, but it is still relatively quick (depending upon the impact of Covid on your local embassy).

L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

The L-1 Visa is also open to new applicants after it was temporarily suspended by President Trump because of Covid. The lingering influence of Covid-19 has continued to impact processing times. Unlike the E-2 Visa, the L-1 visa is open to people of all nationalities. You can use this visa to move staff from an overseas office to the US office of the same company, and you can also set up a new US office of your foreign business and move yourself to the US to manage its growth. See new-office L-1 Visa.

EB-5 Investor Visa

The EB-5 Investor Visa has also been open to applications throughout much of the Covid-19 pandemic – President Trump deliberately exempted this revenue-raising, job-creating visa from his immigration ban last year. A federal judge reduce the investment threshold back to $500,000 in June causing a spike in demand. While the Direct EB-5 pathway remains open, the Regional Center pathway is currently on hold pending reauthorization in the United States Congress. If the EB-5 program reopens, it is anticipated that demand could be high, so some clients are already working on their source of funds to position themselves at the front of the line when things reopen.

These visa categories represent just some of the immigration solutions our firm can support clients with. While processing times have slowed down during Covid-19 and some visa categories were temporarily suspended, commerce always finds a way. Business owners, investors and entrepreneurs will always be welcome in America. Our firm has filed plenty of successful immigration applications during the past 20 months and we are excited to accelerate that as the world gets back to normal.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


US reopen to all vaccinated travelers

Biden Plans Reopening of US Border in November as our Firm Obtains Another National Interest Exception to Travel to the US

President Biden has indicated that the US border will reopen in November, until then the National Interest Exception remains the only viable option for many people to enter the country.

The US border has been closed to people from Schengen countries in Europe as well as the UK, Ireland, India, Brazil and a number of other countries. President Biden announced this week that the eighteen month ban will be lifted at some point in November without giving much detail. The exact date remains uncertain and it is not clear whether the ban will be rescinded for all countries or only apply to the UK and the Schengen Zone.

So, for now there are only two viable options: spend two weeks in a permitted third country or make the case that your visit is in the US national interest.

Our firm has secured a good number of National Interest Exceptions NIEs for clients since the start of the Covid pandemic last March. This week, for example, we obtained an NIE for an Italian client seeking to travel to the United States on business.

The client is one of the leading Italian sales agents for the high-quality ceramic tiles. He represents the interests of a network of Italian tile companies – many based around the city of Modena. He is their global represenative and his area of responsibility includes the United States.

On behalf of the client, we argued that his work was within the permissible exceptions for travel as they came under the exceptions listed in the “Advisory Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during Covid-19 Response”, issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on March 28, 2020.

His work supports the supply chain of building materials from production through application and installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing (including parts and services), electrical, heating and cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint and coatings, and workers who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions.

As we previously reported, these NIEs were recently bolstered to a year-long validity period with multiple entries to the United States permitted. That could soon be academic. If the restrictions on vaccinated travellers visiting the United States is lifted as indicated by the president next month.

There is also a chance that Biden will keep restrictions in place on some countries, so keep those National Interest Exceptions in mind


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.