Holiday travel: additional considerations this season

24 Nov 20

UNITED STATES

With holiday travel season approaching, many foreign national employees will be hoping to visit family abroad, vacation overseas and perhaps renew their visas at the same time. This year, employers and employees will need to take additional precautions and weigh new considerations before planning holiday travel.

Key travel considerations:

  • Travel bans. Multiple travel bans on entry (and re-entry) to the United States remain in effect. Among them, two respective bans suspend entry of immigrant visa applicants and certain nonimmigrant visa categories (H-1, L-1, and J-1). Though they are due to expire Dec. 31, President Trump may extend them into 2021 before he leaves office. Exemptions may be available for those able to demonstrate they are entering the U.S. for reasons serving the national interest. Foreign nationals who believe they may qualify for an exemption should consult their BAL attorney.
  • Physical presence bans. Additional presidential proclamations ban the entry (including re-entry) of most foreign nationals who have been physically present in, including transiting through, countries designated as high-risk COVID-19 countries within the previous 14 days. The designated countries currently include Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and any of the 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen Area. Travelers should note that countries may be added to the list at any time and on short notice. The physical presence bans have no expiration date, and may only be terminated by the president. Exemptions may be available for those able to demonstrate they are entering the U.S. for reasons serving the national interest. Those who believe they may qualify for an exemption should consult their BAL attorney.
  • U.S./Canada/Mexico land borders. The three countries have reciprocally agreed to the continued suspension of “non-essential” travel at land borders until at least Dec. 21.
  • U.S. consulates. U.S. consulates around the world have begun a phased reopening, but many have not resumed routine visa processing and are only taking emergency appointments. Others have warned of lengthy delays for visa services that have resumed. Travelers should consult the appropriate consulate’s website for the most up-to-date information, and should anticipate longer timelines even after visa processing resumes, as U.S. consulates will face significant backlogs that developed during the months-long consulate closures.
  • COVID-19 procedures. Many countries have imposed additional COVID-19 procedures, such as proof of a negative PCR test before entry, screening upon arrival, health insurance coverage and mandatory quarantine protocols. Travelers should be aware of their destination country’s requirements and factor additional time and procedures into their travel plans.

BAL Analysis: Employers and employees should consult with their BAL professional for individual assessments before planning any international travel and carefully weigh risks of traveling. BAL is presenting a webinar on Dec. 3 that will explore travel risks and considerations for the holiday season. Register for the event “Planning for End-of-Year Travel and Expiration of Travel Bans,” here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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