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white house issues new restrictions on travel to u.s. from select african countries in response to omicron variant

On November 26, 2021, the Biden administration issued a new proclamation restricting entry by individuals travelling from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe in order to slow potential spread of the recently identified “Omicron” variant of the coronavirus. The restriction applies to select travelers who have had presence in the above referenced countries in the preceding 14 days.

As with prior travel restrictions implemented by both the Biden and Trump administrations, the new proclamation has multiple exceptions. It does not, for example, apply to US citizens and permanent residents, their spouses or minor children under 21. Siblings of US citizens or lawful permanent entries are also not subject to the restriction so long as the sibling and US citizen or permanent resident are both under 21. Vaccination and testing requirements remain in place for all travelers.

Similar restrictions on travel from affected areas have been put into place by other regions, including the European Union, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Israel and Japan have implemented temporary bans on all incoming travel regardless of origin.

Individuals with National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) granted pursuant to prior proclamations should be aware that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued guidance stating that:

Any National Interest Exception (NIE) granted under this proclamation will not exempt a traveler from testing and/or vaccination requirements under the CDC testing and vaccination orders or Title 19 nonessential travel restrictions.

At time of writing neither CBP nor the US Department of State have yet to provide guidance regarding a new NIE policy.

Wildes & Weinberg will be monitoring the situation as it evolves. All travelers are advised to prepare for potential disruption and possible delays in return if they plan on travelling outside of the U.S. during the holiday season. If you have questions or concerns regarding pending travel into or out of the United States, please contact our offices at or (212) 753-3468.

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