FAQs on Air Travel to U.S. and Vaccination Requirements06 Dec 2021
As of November 8, 2021, in order to board a flight bound for the United States, foreign nationals are generally required to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, irrespective of citizenship and vaccination status, all air passengers ages 2 or older must show a negative result of a COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. The following provides answers to frequently asked questions related to the vaccination rules.
What is the requirement to be considered fully vaccinated for air travel to the U.S.?
An individual is considered fully vaccinated if there has been at least 2 weeks (14 days) since any one of the following:
- receiving a dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine
- receiving the second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
- receiving the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial
- receiving the full series of a Novavax (or Covovax) COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a phase 3 clinical trial
- receiving 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart
Are Indian vaccination certificates acceptable as proof of vaccination?
Yes. Indian nationals can either print out an updated version from the Indian government COVID-19 vaccination registration website, CoWingm, or travel with the older certificate listing age along with the ID indicated on that certificate.
Are there any exemptions to the vaccination requirement?
Foreign nationals not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the U.S., unless they meet one of the exemption criteria below:
- persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
- children under 18 years of age
- persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
- participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
- persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
- persons with valid visas excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
- members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
- sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
- persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)
Does attending a visa appointment require showing proof of vaccination?
No. The visa process at consulate posts has no vaccination proof requirement and a foreign national can apply for a visa regardless of vaccination status. Boarding a flight to the U.S., however, still requires showing proof of vaccination.
I was issued a national interest exception (NIE) that allowed me to travel to the U.S. when the travel ban from India was in place. Can I use that same NIE now?
No. The country-specific NIEs only applied to the prior presidential proclamation. Those NIEs cannot be used to circumvent the vaccination requirement.
For the country-specific travel ban implemented on November 29, 2021, for certain countries in Africa, NIEs are available. Even if one is issued such an NIE, however, that would not automatically waive the vaccination requirement.
What are the criteria to receive an NIE for the vaccination requirement?
National interest exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, it is widely expected that these NIEs will rarely be granted.
Can a foreign national qualify for a vaccination exemption based on having an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident?
No. Having an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or LPR would not exempt the foreign national from the vaccination requirement.
The vaccination requirements for travelers should make it much easier for most fully vaccinated foreign nationals to travel to the United States. The hope is that it will also encourage prospective travelers to get vaccinated, and ultimately help bring the pandemic to an end.
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