New Regulations for Travelers from Schengen Area

H. Roske & Associates LLP, September 30th, 2021.

The good news first: As you may have probably noticed in the press, the U.S. Government will allow travel from Schengen countries from November on without requiring a National Interest Exception (NIE). Even though this news is a huge step forward towards the desired normality in travel, there are still some things to consider until then and afterwards. We have summarized the most pressing questions for you:

When exactly will the new regulations take effect?
The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator said he expects the new regulations to be in place by early November. However, the government has not yet set a specific date.

What exactly are the requirements as of November?
Provided the information published by the White House about the upcoming regulations is accurate, Schengen nationals will be able to enter the U.S. as long as they are fully vaccinated. A NIE will no longer be required. Whether someone is “fully” vaccinated depends on the vaccine used. BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, for example, require two vaccine doses, while others such as Johnson & Johnson require only one. At least 2 weeks must have passed since the last dose. In addition, a negative Covid test (not older than 3 days) is required, as well as e-mail address and telephone number, so that travelers can be reached in case of possible contact with Covid infected persons. Lastly, valid ESTA or visa are still required for almost all foreigners.

What about "EU vaccines" that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
Under the new regulations, the U.S. will accept other vaccines as well, such as AstraZeneca, Sinopharm or Sinovac, if they are at least authorized by the World Health Organization. A list of all accepted vaccines can be found here.

What if I am not (fully) vaccinated? Can I continue to enter the country with an NIE as of November?
No. Beginning in November (exact date unknown), all travelers who are not U.S. citizens must be fully vaccinated. Certain exemptions have been announced for children, and few others.

What is the situation until November?
The NIE will continue to be required until the new policy is in effect. Detailed information on this can be found in our last newsletters. In summary, essential support or business management tasks related to economically significant activities or essential infrastructure sectors are required. The purpose of the travel cannot be achieved remotely.

In the meantime, is there a need for vaccination? What about testing?
Corona vaccination is not a requirement for issuance of a NIE. However, negative Corona tests (no older than 3 days) are required for entry now and in the near future.

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As soon as the U.S. government announces reliable information, we will provide updated information through a new newsletter.