While there were fewer COVID-19 travel restrictions for visiting the US from Europe while President Donald Trump was in office, new President-elect Joe Biden has implemented several measures to keep new variants of coronavirus out of the country.
This complete guide informs US-bound European travellers whether they can enter or transit through the USA at present and the necessary documentation they may need in addition to a United States visa.
Passengers banned from travelling to the USA
To contain the spread of COVID-19, the US government has implemented a travel ban for passengers who have been in several European countries within the previous 14 days.
This includes passengers who have traveled to Portugal (including for transit) in the past 2 weeks, as well as:
- Czech Republic
- The United Kingdom
However, the USA also has a list of travellers who are currently exempt from the travel ban for Europe, including certain categories of US visa holders.
Exceptions to the entry ban
The following types of civilian passengers are currently exempt from the entry ban from the European countries listed above:
- Nationals and permanent residents of the USA and their spouses (if they have a valid marriage certificate)
- Parents or legal guardians as well as brothers and sisters (unmarried and under the age of 21) of a national or permanent resident of the United States (who is unmarried and younger than 21)
- A child, foster child or ward of a US national or permanent resident
- Holders of the following US visa types: A-1, A-2, C-1, C-1/D, C-2, C-3, CR-1, CR-2, D,), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, IR-1, IR-4, IH-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa
- Holders of an E-1 US visa, if they are an employee of TECRO or TECO or immediate family members of an employee
- Holders of a DV visa issued between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020
- Students holding a valid F-1 or M-1 visa, as well as dependents holding an F-2 and M-2 visa
- Any passenger with an invitation from the US government to assist in activities related to the containment or mitigation of COVID-19.
Additionally, passengers holding a document issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection or U.S. Department of State that indicates that they are exempt from the European entry ban are also permitted to enter the United States.
COVID test requirement
From January 26th, 2021, it has been necessary for everyone permitted to enter the United States from Europe to supply a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 test result, with the exception of passengers under the age of 2 and US military personnel.
The test must have been taken at most 3 days before departure from the first embarkation point in Europe, and the testing method used must have been either viral antigen, NAAT, RT-LAMP, RT-PCR, or TMA.
The medical certificate must contain passenger details such as name, date of birth, and travel document number that match the traveler’s passport. The test result must state “negative” or “not detected” in order to be accepted. Tests marked “invalid” will be refused.
As an alternative to the negative COVID-19 test result, European travellers are able to present documents (medical certificate and a letter from a doctor) stating that they have recovered from coronavirus in the 90 days before arriving in the States and are cleared for travel.
Other travel restrictions
Although it may not be necessary for those currently permitted to enter the US to take a COVID test on arrival at an airport in the United States or undergo quarantine, there are certain other requirements they must meet depending on their port of entry.
No matter where they plan to arrive, all passengers entering the USA from Europe are required to complete a disclosure and attestation form online before traveling. Additionally, those arriving in either Massachusetts or New York State need to complete an additional online health form before they arrive at US immigration.
As other individual US states and territories have their own specific COVID-19 measures in place, travellers from Europe are also strongly advised to check if any other restrictions apply for their destination before they board their transportation for the United States.