In an unprecedented White House address on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump announced that certain European nationals will be banned from travel to the United States in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These European travel restrictions will take effect this Friday at midnight. However, President Trump specified that the European travel ban does not apply to the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security later clarified that the European travel ban restrictions only apply to certain foreign nationals who have been physically present in the 26 countries comprising the European Schengen region during the 14-day period before an attempted entry into the United States. Those Schengen region countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
According to the president’s proclamation, “Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” the travel restrictions do not apply to the following individuals:
In addition to the specific classes of individuals listed above, the proclamation also carves out a few discretionary exceptions for foreign nationals who may be eligible enter, including: foreign nationals whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting or spreading the virus (as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services); foreign nationals whose entry would aid U.S. 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); and foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security or their designees).
Finally, the proclamation provides that these restrictions shall have no effect on any individual’s eligibility for certain forms of humanitarian relief, including asylum, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture.