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Do I Need to be Vaccinated Against COVID to Enter the U.S. at the Border?

Posted by Hugo Valverde | Feb 06, 2022 | 0 Comments

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

So much attention has been given to the turmoil airports and airlines have gone through in the last two years, but there are plenty of people wondering about how the pandemic is affecting our land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders. About 238 million people to be exact. That's the amount of travelers who went through land ports of entry in 2020, and that number is only expected to grow in 2022, now that the borders are much more open than they were last year. 

Although the Biden Administration has made it a top priority to communicate the need for travelers entering the U.S. to be fully vaccinated for COVID, most news articles with those headlines have not fully communicated what that means for different types of travelers. 

We know fact and fiction have been swirling about with the new travel requirements for land and ferry borders, so we want to clearly lay out for you the facts of the new requirements that began January 22, 2022:

  • The new requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals. Regardless of vaccination status, you can enter the United States at any point of entry if you are a U.S. citizen, LPR, or U.S. national.
  • Unlike the requirements for air travel, those entering the U.S. via a land port of entry or ferry terminal do not need to show proof of recent COVID testing. 
  • Non-U.S. travelers entering the United States do need to show proof of an approved COVID vaccination, and have to be fully vaccinated. As of right now, you do not need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated by the CDC.
  • There are limited exceptions to the travel requirements, which are:
    • Certain categories of individuals on diplomatic or official foreign government travel as specified in the CDC Order;
    • Children under 18 years of age;
    • Certain participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials as specified in the CDC Order;
    • Individuals with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as specified in the CDC Order;
    • Individuals issued a humanitarian or emergency exception by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
    • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age) as specified in the CDC Order; and
    • Individuals whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Stay tuned next week for our blog on whether you need to be vaccinated against COVID to obtain a green card.

If you have questions about obtaining a visa to travel to the U.S. please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

About the Author

Hugo Valverde

Hugo's passion for immigration law stems from his own family's immigration experience. His father and mother came to the United States from Peru fleeing political persecution, and as he grew up, Hugo spent many summers in Peru. Hugo uses his experience growing up in an immigrant family and time a...


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