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The Department of Homeland Security’s New Rules for Non-Citizen Land Travel

For the first time since March 2020, non-citizen travelers will be permitted to enter the U.S. through a land border or ferry terminal for a non-essential reason, such as tourism, beginning November 8, 2021. There are some rules that non-citizens must follow to be allowed to gain entry, however.  Non-citizens may enter the U.S. if they can provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination and will verbally attest to their reason for travel and COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection.  

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is accepting all FDA approved and authorized vaccines, as well as vaccines that have an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). The FDA accepted vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J/Janssen) vaccines. Additionally, the WHO’s emergency use vaccines include AstraZeneca/Oxford and Novavax.  Children under the age of 18 who still cannot be vaccinated will be exempt from this requirement when it goes into effect on November 8, 2021. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated: 

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine;
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine;
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart. 

As a result of the new rules, DHS is expecting longer than usual wait times at ports of entry and asks that all non-citizens have their COVID-19 vaccination and other required documentation ready with them upon arrival in the U.S.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and individuals traveling for essential reasons are exempt from the requirements outlined above. However, beginning in January 2022, all travelers to the U.S., essential or non-essential, will be required to show proof of vaccine.

More information about these rules is expected to be released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection soon. Berardi Immigration Law is committed to providing our clients with the most up to date and accurate information. Be sure to subscribe to our social media channels for the latest immigration news!