US Announces Travel Restrictions For Eight African Countries Over New COVID Variant

 

On November 26, President Biden issued a Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019. The proclamation is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, November 29, 2021. This proclamation notes that this does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 29, 2021.
The entry restrictions cover travelers (with certain exceptions) who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Excerpt:

The national emergency caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States continues to pose a grave threat to our health and security. As of November 26, 2021, the United States has experienced more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 773,000 COVID-19 deaths. It is the policy of my Administration to implement science-based public health measures, across all areas of the Federal Government, to act swiftly and aggressively to prevent further spread of the disease.

On November 24, 2021, the Republic of South Africa informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that was detected in that country. On November 26, 2021, the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution announced that B.1.1.529 constitutes a variant of concern. While new information is still emerging, the profile of B.1.1.529 includes multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome, some of which are concerning. According to the WHO, preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern. Further, the WHO reports that the number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in the Republic of South Africa. Based on these developments, and in light of the extensive cross-border transit and proximity in Southern Africa, the detection of B.1.1.529 cases in some Southern African countries, and the lack of widespread genomic sequencing in Southern Africa, the United States Government, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services, has reexamined its policies on international travel and concluded that further measures are required to protect the public health from travelers entering the United States from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe. In addition to these travel restrictions, the CDC shall implement other mitigation measures for travelers departing from the countries listed above and destined for the United States, as needed.

Given the recommendation of the CDC, working in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, described above, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to suspend and restrict the entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of noncitizens of the United States (“noncitizens”) who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions.

Read in full here.

 

Snapshot: PP9645 and PP9983 – Affected Nationalities, Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visas

 

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10141) titled “Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.”  This proclamation ended the travel restrictions under Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 under Trump and directed the State Department to pursue the processing of visa applications for individuals from affected countries consistent with applicable law and visa processing procedures.  Guidance on State’s implementation of P.P. 10141 can be found here. Pursuant to President Biden’s Proclamation, the visa restrictions under Proclamations 9645 and 9983 are no longer applicable.
Below is a CA report on the affected nationalities for both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas from December 8, 2017 t0 January 20, 2021. The full report is available here.

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