What Should Your Foreign National Employees Know About International Travel for the Holidays

What Employers Need to Know About an H-1B Visa

The president recently reopened U.S. borders and ports of entry to non-immigrant international travelers, which will make it easier for many businesses to get needed workers into the United States. This is also good news for those non-immigrant employees with holiday travel plans. However, keeping up with the latest requirements for COVID-19 vaccinations and documentation isn’t easy, so we will explain these requirements below.

Vaccine Requirements

The most recent travel rules for non-immigrants trying to enter or reenter the U.S. require these travellers to be fully vaccinated in addition to providing a negative COVID-19 test that was obtained within the last three days. The necessary entry documents must be presented as well. This includes an unexpired passport as well as a U.S.-issued visa. There are only certain types of COVID-19 vaccines that will fulfill the vaccine requirement. These are:

  • AstraZeneca (two-doses)
  • BIBP/Sinopharm (two-doses)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (two-doses)
  • Covaxin (two-doses)
  • Sinovac (two-doses)
  • Moderna (two-doses)
  • Covishield (two-doses)
  • Janssen/Johnson and Johnson (one-dose)

The individual must have received the vaccine at least 14 days ago. For a two-dose vaccine, the individual must have received the second of the two doses two weeks before entering the U.S.

Just before boarding a flight to the United States, non-immigrants must present proof of vaccination. This proof can be digital or paper and have a QR code. A non-verifiable paper record can be used if it was issued by an authorized vaccine provider or at the national or sub-national level. Digital photos of a vaccine record or card, downloaded records, or vaccine certificates from an official source, or mobile phone apps may be used. Any of these sources are acceptable if they have:

  • The full name and birthdate or passport number of the employee
  • The name of the agency that issued the vaccine record
  • The date or dates of the vaccine, along with the vaccine’s manufacturer

Children ages 2-17 are not required to be vaccinated but must provide a negative COVID-19 test that was taken in the last three days and be traveling with an adult that has been fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Non-Immigrants

Non-immigrants and their families who are not vaccinated cannot enter or reenter the United States unless one of the following applies:

  • The non-immigrant children are under 18 years of age.
  • The non-immigrant is participating or has participated in a COVID-19 trial that has been determined by the CDC director.
  • The non-immigrant has a medical contraindication and can show a letter that states the contraindication that has been signed and dated by a licensed physician to the air carrier.
  • Humanitarian or emergency situations in which immediate travel to the U.S. is required (This must be verified by an embassy or consulate.)
  • If there is limited availability of vaccines in the employee’s country with a lower than 10% vaccination rate (A passport with proof of citizenship and a non-B-1/B-2 visa will need to be shown, and the individual must be vaccinated within 60 days of arrival.)
  • Service members and their families
  • Any person whose entry is in the national interest according to the U.S. Secretaries of State, Transportation, or Homeland Security or their designees
  • Those non-immigrants with diplomatic, governmental, or NATO visas
  • United Nation’s travelers who are under section 11 of the UN Headquarters Agreement or who are entering the United States due to legal obligations
  • Sea crew members with C-1 or D visas
  • Crew members of an aircraft operator or airline, if they are on official duty

Non-immigrant employees and their family members that meet one of the exceptions may enter or reenter the United States, providing they show a negative COVID-19 test within one day of boarding their flight.