Trump Administration Travel Restriction Explained

March 12, 2020 | Henry M. Mascia | Immigration

To slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Trump administration has temporarily suspended entry of foreign nationals in the European Union into the United States.  The full Presidential Proclamation can be found here.

This decision comes on the heels of a similar travel restriction on foreign nationals who had been physically present in China and Iran.

To whom does the travel restriction apply?

The travel restriction applies to the Schengen Area of the EU, which, according to the Trump Administration, currently has the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of the People’s Republic of China. The restriction does not include the United Kingdom but does include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The Travel Restriction becomes effective on Friday, March 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and will apply to any foreign national who was physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period before entering the U.S. Although the procedures have not been clearly defined, the Proclamation suggests that the Trump Administration will take steps to prevent foreign nationals from boarding planes from the Schengen Area to the United States.

Are there any exceptions to the travel restriction?

The travel restriction contains 12 exceptions, chief among them:

  1. lawful permanent residents of the U.S.,
  2. the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident,
  3. the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is unmarried and under the age of 21,
  4. any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and both are unmarried and under the age of 21,
  5. any alien who is the child, foster child or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the U.S.

The Proclamation makes clear that the travel restriction does not affect a foreign national’s eligibility for asylum or other humanitarian relief.

The Trump Administration can waive the travel restriction for any foreign national “whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee.”

What about U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are in the EU right now?

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents seeking to return to the United States from the European Union will have to enter at selected airports and undergo special screening procedures. The Trump Administration said it plans to issue more detailed guidance about the selected airports and screening procedures.

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