U.S. Imposes Travel Restrictions Against U.S. Citizens and Foreign Citizens Due to Coronavirus

Feb 4, 2020 | Raluca Vais-Ottosen

Published 2.4.2020

On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Declaration of Public Health Emergency in connection with the new 2019 Coronavirus, the source of an outbreak of respiratory illness that was first detected in the Hubei province in China.  Due to the very serious nature of the condition, and the detection of several cases in the U.S. in individuals who had recently traveled to the affected Chinese province, the U.S. government has issued the following travel restrictions:

Travel restrictions against U.S. citizens:

U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. who have been in Hubei Province, China in the 14 days prior to their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, to ensure they are properly screened for the condition and that they receive adequate medical care. 

U.S. citizen returning to the U.S. who have been in the rest of mainland China (not in Hubei Province) within the prior 14 days will undergo proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.

Travel restrictions against foreign citizens:

Foreign nationals who were present in any region of mainland China (not only Hubei) during the 14-day period preceding their intended travel to the U.S. will be denied admission into the U.S. at this time.  

This restriction does not apply to any individual who is a:

  • lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • spouse of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, if the child is unmarried and under 21 years old;
  • sibling of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, if both siblings are unmarried and under 21;
  • child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, who is a prospective adoptee seeking admission to the U.S. in category IR-4 for IH-4;
  • foreign national traveling to the U.S. at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • alien traveling as a nonimmigrant under section 101(a)(15)(C) or (D) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(C) or (D), as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
  • alien seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa; 
  • alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  • any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
  • alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

How long will these travel restrictions last?

The travel restrictions and quarantine requirements outlined above went into effect at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 2, 2020, and will remain in effect until terminated by President Trump. The Department of Health and Services is required to advise the President every 15 days with recommendations as to whether these restrictions must be continued, modified, or terminated.

We will continue to monitor this issue and we will provide updates as they become available.  If you have any questions regarding travel to the United State or any other immigration-related matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Raluca (Luca) Vais-Ottosen at or 608-252-9291.