It is confusing trying to keep up with travel guidelines for entry into the US. Keeping in mind that the rules change frequently, we have summarized the travel guidelines as of December 8, 2021.
First, all travelers, including nonimmigrants, US citizens and legal permanent residents, on airplanes are required to be masked, regardless of vaccination status.
If you are not a US citizen or a legal permanent resident, then you are required to be fully vaccinated to travel to the US. Proof of vaccination must be presented to enter. You will also be required to present a negative COVID-19 test, with the test having been taken within one day of travel, depending on your age and vaccination status, or evidence of recovery from COVID-19. If you are a US citizen or legal permanent resident returning to the US from abroad, you must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel or evidence of recovery from COVID-19.
It is highly recommended that you take the quiz at the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website for the latest requirements.
Only very limited exceptions to this rule are allowed, and people who meet these limited exceptions must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel. The exemptions include those under 18 years of age, people who are medically unable to receive the vaccine and emergency travelers who did not have timely access to the vaccine.
President Biden has also restricted travelers who have, within 14 days, been in South Africa, and seven additional African countries, from entering the US at present. These countries are: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. This does not apply to US citizens and legal permanent residents. The exceptions, which can be found in the Presidential Proclamation on the White House website, relate to family members of US citizens or legal permanent residents. The restrictions do not apply to US citizens or legal permanent residents seeking to return to the US from one of these countries. However, US citizens or legal permanent residents must either be fully vaccinated, have a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel or present evidence of recovery from COVID-19, as with any international travel to the US.
As these rules are frequently changing, it is a good idea to monitor the CDC website for the latest developments.