US restricts entry of travelers to stop coronavirus, cancels visa appointments

31 Jan 20

UNITED STATES

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation late Friday, imposing an entry ban on most travelers from China amid the coronavirus outbreak. Lawful permanent residents, their immediate family members and a limited number of other travelers will be exempt. The U.S. also moved to implement mandatory quarantines of U.S. citizens returning from Hubei Province in China and said it will cancel visa appointments next week at U.S. consulates in China.

Key points:

  • The proclamation, which is set to take effect Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. EST, bars entry into the U.S. of all foreign nationals who were physically present in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) during the 14 days before their attempted entry into the U.S.
  • Exempt from the ban are: (1) lawful permanent residents; (2) spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; (3) parents or legal guardians of unmarried U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are under 21; (4) siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, provided both siblings are unmarried and under 21; (5) children, foster children, wards and certain prospective adoptees of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; (6) anyone traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government to help contain the virus; (7) certain foreign nationals traveling as air or sea crew; (8) those seeking entry to the U.S. as foreign government officials or their immediate family; (9) foreign nationals who do not pose a risk of spreading the virus, as determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and (10) foreign nationals who would advance important law enforcement priorities or whose entry would be in the nationals interest, as determined by the appropriate government officials.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced that U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from Hubei Province would be quarantined for up to 14 days upon arrival in the U.S. Those returning from other parts of mainland China will be subject to self-screening measures. These measures will also take effect Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.
  • The U.S. embassy and consulates in China are canceling all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments the week of Feb. 3. Those with urgent travel needs should contact BAL.

Background: The coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms and double pneumonia. Thousands of people in China have been infected and some travel-related cases in the U.S. have been detected. The World Health Organization designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, and a number of countries are moving to impose travel and immigration restrictions to stop the virus from spreading. The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged Americans not to travel to China, and several U.S. airlines followed up by canceling flights between mainland China and the U.S.

BAL Analysis: The measures represent a dramatic escalation in the U.S. response to coronavirus. Those planning travel between the U.S. and China are urged to reconsider their plans amid growing concern about the virus and new travel restrictions. Employers and visa applicants in both China and the U.S. should expect continued delays. Employers must be prepared to be flexible with employee schedules and start dates. The response to the coronavirus is evolving rapidly, and BAL will alert clients to additional changes or restrictions as information becomes available.

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

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