Traveler in airport

United States updates COVID-19 testing requirement for all inbound international air travelers

The United States has revised the COVID-19 testing requirement for all travelers entering or returning to the country.

All international air travelers two years of age and older will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within one day of their departure to the United States, regardless of their vaccination status. The new requirement takes effect on Monday, Dec. 6 at 12:01 a.m. EST, and will apply to all U.S. citizens, permanent residents, noncitizens and foreign nationals.

Alternatively, passengers can provide proof of recent recovery from COVID-19 instead of a negative test if their positive COVID-19 test result was received no more than 90 days before their flight’s departure and they have a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official with permission to travel.

The White House said the new requirement was necessary because of the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House earlier this week.

The new measure will replace the current provision which requires vaccinated travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of entering the United States while requiring unvaccinated individuals to be tested within 24 hours of flying to the country.

The White House also announced it was extending a mask mandate for all international and other public travel, including in airports and bus terminals, through at least March 18. That measure was originally set to expire in January 2022.

The United States recently implemented a travel ban on noncitizens who have been physically present in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the 14-day period prior to traveling to the U.S. because of the Omicron variant. That ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and includes multiple exemptions.

Meanwhile, the United States recently lifted some COVID-19 related restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign travelers. All Green Card applicants are required to be fully vaccinated as of October 1, as well.

The attorneys at Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as information evolves.

Note: This story was last updated on December 3

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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