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COVID-19: US raises vaccination requirement for international travelers

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The Biden government has announced the end of compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for international travellers. This measure will take effect from May 11 in the evening.

Since November 2021, non-US nationals must prove they have been fully immunized against COVID-19 before traveling to the United States by air from a foreign country.

This commitment will officially end on the evening of May 11, around the same time as the covid-19 public health emergency in the United States. “We are now at a different phase in our response, one in which these measures are no longer necessary,” the White House statement said.

For months, other covid-19 related travel requirements have been quietly dropped. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted pre-departure rules that require air travelers leaving China, Hong Kong and Macau for the United States to take a test and present a negative result. Recovery.

The US tourism industry welcomes this measure. Arrivals from abroad have stubbornly remained at 25% below pre-pandemic levels, according to data from American Travel Association(USTA), the trade organization representing the travel and tourism industry.

“Survey data we receive from international travel buyers indicates that many travelers wanting to visit the United States are stymied by this requirement,” Jeff FreemanPresident and CEO of the USTA. And they chose other markets because of that. According to the USTA, other obstacles to a full resumption of international inbound tourism include long waits for visas, limited air corridors and restrictions on Russian airspace.

Citizens of 40 countries can travel to the United States without a visa for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP, Visa Waiver Program). The list of this program includes most European countries as well as six countries from other regions, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile.

For nationals of other countries, wait times for visa interviews vary greatly, depending on location. For example, B-1 and B-2 visa applicants can expect to wait only 25 days, on average, for their applications to be processed in Beijing. According to the US State Department, it takes 274 days in Buenos Aires and 409 days in Mumbai. Visitor visas are for people who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1 visa category), for tourism (B-2 visa category), or for a combination of these two reasons (B-1/B-2).

According to the USTA, the government’s low priority processing of B-1 and B-2 visitor visas is preventing an estimated 6.6 million potential visitors from traveling to the United States in 2023, representing an $11.6 billion loss in planned spending.

Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Susan Rowan Kelleher

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