International travel during the ongoing global pandemic is complicated by many factors. As policies and circumstances continue to change, it is important to stay informed with up-to-date information:
On October 25th, President Biden issued a new Presidential Proclamation that rescinds the current regional COVID-19 travel restrictions. In addition to the presidential proclamation a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) order has also been issued which indicates that all travelers to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated with an approved U.S. FDA or WHO vaccine unless eligible for one of the few exceptions.
The government will discontinue use of the current National Interest Exception (NIE) waiver on November 7, 2021. The new presidential proclamation will take effect on November 8, 2021.
This proclamation applies to all nonimmigrants with an F or J visa, including:
- New F-1 students (those with “initial attendance I-20s)
- Continuing F-1 students (those with “continued attendance” I-20s)
- Continuing F-1 students on OPT/STEM
- All J-1 students and scholars (new and continuing)
- All F-2 and J-2 dependents over the age of 18 (children under the age of 18 are not required to receive a vaccine to travel internationally)
The proclamation states the following policies regarding travel:
- All air passengers ages 2 or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must show a negative result of a COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States (U.S).
- Prior to boarding a flight to the U.S., you must obtain and carry proof that you have received an approved COVID-19 vaccine OR proof that you meet one or more of the exceptions for receiving the vaccine.
- Current exceptions are limited, however they include participation in specific COVID-19 vaccine trials, persons with a documented medical condition which prevent COVID-19 vaccination, citizens of countries with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, and more.
- If you do not qualify for an exception to this policy, you must be fully vaccinated on the date that you intend to arrive in the United States. Specific vaccination requirements vary according to to the type of vaccination you’ve received.
- If you do qualify for an exception, you may still need to agree to being vaccinated and show proof of vaccination within 60 days of your arrival date
You can find more information detailing these policies on these web pages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Testing Requirements Prior to Travel: All air passengers aged 2 years or older are required to travel with proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test result. Persons who are fully vaccinated according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines must receive a negative COVID-19 viral test no more than 1 day prior to departure to the U.S.; persons who meet one of the criteria to qualify for an exception to receive the COVID-19 vaccine must receive a negative result no more than 1 day prior to travel. You can read more about this testing requirement on the CDC webpage.
Testing and Quarantine Requirements After Arrival in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their quarantine requirement and as of December 2nd, 2021:
- For all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, the CDC recommends scheduling a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
- If you are unable to get tested upon entry, travelers are advised to self-quarantine for 10 full days after travel.
- International travelers who have been fully vaccinated with a FDA-approved vaccine or a vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) do not need to quarantine after arrival unless their post-travel test is positive.
- For other international travelers who qualify for one or more of the COVID-19 vaccination exemptions, you must stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel even if your post-travel test is negative.
IMPORTANT: If you test positive, you should isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. In all circumstances, travelers are advised to avoid being around other people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days.
You can read more about testing recommendations on the After International Travel (CDC) webpage.
NC State testing and self-quarantine requirements: In addition to the above listed CDC testing and quarantine requirements, NC State has implemented a COVID-19 testing protocol. Students and scholars returning from international travel may obtain their free COVID-19 test on-campus, but should avoid all other campus activities if they are required to self-quarantine.OIS has worked with campus partners in Student Health Services and University Housing to create self-quarantine guidelines with guidance on how and where to complete self-quarantine. All students and scholars are reminded of the COVID-19 community standards that require compliance with all directions given by university officials and public health authorities.
The U.S. Department of State continues to update their website on the phased resumption of routine visa services with new details on plans going forward. Since plans are made “on a post-by-post basis,” please contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for updates on their services. An unexpired visa is always required to enter the U.S. as an F or J nonimmigrant with the exception of citizens of Canada or Bermuda, and circumstances where automatic visa revalidation applies.
The National Interest Exception (NIE) policy will remain in effect until November 7, 2021.
** The following travel restrictions were revoked as of December 31st, 2021. Please find the official revocation notice here.**
As of November 29, 2021, President Biden has issued a Presidential Proclamation to suspend entry to the U.S. for travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe due to the discovery of a new variant of concern “Omicron”. This restriction applies to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders who were physically present in one of the eight named countries during the 14-day period preceding their attempted entry to the U.S. Unlike the prior country-specific travel bans related to COVID-19, there is not yet clarification regarding whether or not F-1 and J-1 students would be exempted from this restriction under a National Interest Exception (NIE). Until we get that clarification, students and scholars should assume this travel restriction also applies to them.
It is important to understand that this is a public health travel restriction based on the origin of travel, and not the nationality of the traveler. Students from impacted countries with valid, multiple-entry visas may still be able to travel internationally to other countries, though as with any international travel, we recommend you consult with OIS prior to departure. We also recommend you continue to monitor CDC travel alerts and understand that with the rapidly changing situation, entry restrictions could be changed/added before your planned return.
Travel to/from impacted countries: It is also important to understand that there is much still to be understood about the Omicron variant and this situation is rapidly evolving. The end of this restriction is presently unknown – students who are planning to travel to impacted countries should be prepared for the possibility they will be unable to return for the Spring 2022 semester. This travel restriction does not replace the vaccination requirement implemented on November 8, 2021.