On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which, effective November 8, 2021, will lift the four current geographic travel ban restrictions, and replace them with a global requirement that "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions.
A separate CDC order will also continue to require all air travelers to show results of a negative coronavirus test performed on a specimen taken three days (if fully vaccinated) or one day (if not fully vaccinated and entering under an exception) preceding their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States. Updated - all travelers to the U.S. must now show proof of a negative viral COVID test not more than one day before departing for the U.S. For more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html
"Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" who are traveling by air will have to show both the negative COVID viral test and documentation that they are either fully vaccinated or are eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement.
These U.S. entry vaccination requirements and testing updates will go into effect at 12:01am EST on November 8, 2021. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the U.S. that departed prior to 12:01am EST on November 8, 2021.
This proclamation will replace the current geographic travel ban restrictions with new air travel vaccination requirements, which will be applicable not only to travel from one of the countries formerly subject to a geographic travel ban, but to travel to the U.S. by air, by nonimmigrants from any part of the world.
Exceptions and Exemptions
U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and those entering on an immigration visa are exempt from the these vaccination requirements. The proclamation contains a number of important exceptions to these requirements, including:
- Diplomats, employees of international organizations, and similar
- Citizens of a foreign country where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited
- Noncitizens who are children under 18 yeras of age, or noncitizens for whom a COVID vaccination is contraindicated or inappropriate
- National interest (as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designee - NOTE: these "national interest" exceptions are not related to NIE's that have previously been issued for F-1 students, J-1 students and scholars, etc.
According to CDC FAQs there are no exceptions under the proclamation and the CDC order for religious or other moral convictions. If you qualified for an exception to the University's vaccination requirements for students, this exception will not be recognized for the purposes of entry to the U.S. under the proclamation and CDC order.
Acceptable Vaccines and the Meaning of Fully Vaccinated
The CDC webpage Requrement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers lists the following vaccines as acceptable. Please note this list of vaccines mirrors the University's list of acceptable vaccines per institutional requirements. The acceptable vaccines are:
- Covishield/Serum Institute of India
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
Vaccination with a vaccines not on these lists would not satisfy the proclamation requirements until the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO) adds the vaccines to their lists.
The CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers describes the meaning of "fully vaccinated."
Proof of Vaccination
CDC Technical Instructions Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination state that "airlines or aircraft operators msut confirm that every covered individual (unless excepted) has presented proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the U.S. from a foreign country. The above linked CDC Technical Instructions and Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination describe acceptable proof and provide examples.
Negative COVID-19 Viral Test Condition
Presidential Proclamation of October 25, 2021 does not institute new negative COVID-19 test requirements. Rather, in addition to being subject to the new proof of vaccination requirements nonimmigrants who are entering the U.S. through will also continue to be subject to CDC rules that require all travelers (regardless of citizenship) to present proof of receiving a negative pre-departure viral test result for COVID-19. Nonimmigrants subject to Presidential Proclamation of October 25, 2021 will have to show both proof of being fully vaccinated (or qualify under one of the narrow exceptions) and proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test. Briefly:
- Fully vaccinated individuals: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 3 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country. Updated on Dec 2: viral test must be taken no more than 1 day before flight departure.
- Not fully vaccinated: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if the traveler does not show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This also includes nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated, but who are requesting admission to the U.S. under an exception.
For more, visit the CDC webpage Required Testing Before Air Travel to the U.S.
OIA will continue to update this page as additional information becomes available. Students and scholars alike are encouraged to check with their airlines to ensure they are up-to-date on required documentation before boarding.
- For additional information related to travel while at the University of Chicago on an F-1 or J-1 student visa, please visit our Travel webpage for students.
- For additional information related to travel while at the University of Chicago while on a J-1, H-1B, TN, or other employment-based visa classification, please visit our Travel webpage for scholars.
Important links to additional information:
- Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Releases Additional Detail for Implementing a Safer, More Stringent International Air Travel System
- U.S. Department of State: FAQ's on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing for International Travel
- U.S. Department of State: Safely Resuming Travel by Vaccine Requirement and Rescission of Travel Restrictions on Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom
- CDC: Technical Instructions for Implementing Presidential Proclamation
- CDC: Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Travelers
- CDC: Required Testing Before Air Travel to the U.S.
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators: Briefing on COVID Vaccination and Testing Requirements