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DHS Begins Relaxing International Travel Restrictions

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ending the requirement to have flights from certain countries land at one of 15 designated U.S. airports with enhanced entry screening for COVID-19.

As of September 14, 2020, flights carrying persons who had recently traveled from, or were otherwise present within:

  • China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau);
  • Iran;
  • The European countries of the Schengen Area;
  • The United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe);
  • Ireland;
  • or Brazil,

will no longer be required to land at one of the previously designated 15 U.S. Airports.

However, this new policy does not change the COVID-19 travel ban for non-U.S. residents, which still applies to individuals who have been physically present in any of the restricted countries noted above during the past 14 days.

In essence, this new policy only ends the enhanced screening of qualifying travelers from these locations and allows qualifying travelers from these locations to enter through any U.S. Airport.

This change only impacts those who were already exempt from the restrictions including: U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are unmarried and under the age of 21; siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are both unmarried and under age 21; members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children; foreign nationals whose entry is in the U.S. national interest, and certain others identified in the Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 9994.

DHS indicates that eliminating the 15 airport requirement, “will allow public health resources to be more effectively reprioritized for other containment and mitigation efforts and will stimulate air travel.” DHS will still implement “an illness reporting system and a passenger education process.”

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