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Holiday Travel Tips

With the holidays fast approaching, traveling internationally may be on your mind. Planning your trip can be fun but also stressful. Being prepared for any immigration requirements will reduce that stress, save valuable time, and ensure compliance.

Below are some critical tips for your holiday travel. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions at +1 415-771-7500 (Americas); +44 20 34326564 (EMEA); +86 10 84053554 (APAC); or via email at

Global COVID Vaccination Requirement Remains in Effect

Vaccinated Status: As of November 2021, all non-citizen, non-immigrant (“foreign nationals”) air travelers to the United States (US) must provide proof of vaccination status before boarding an airplane to fly to the US. This proof-of-vaccination requirement replaced the previous country-based restrictions. All foreign travelers must be fully vaccinated against COVID at least two weeks before travel.

Key Points

  • Proof of Vaccination: Airlines are responsible for verifying vaccination status, and they will make sure that the vaccination record matches the traveler’s details.
    • Proof of vaccination must include personal identifiers (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) that match the unique identifiers on the traveler’s passport, name of the official source issuing the record, and vaccine manufacturer and date of vaccination.
  • Accepted Vaccines: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that for purposes of travel to the US, accepted vaccines include Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listed (EUL) vaccines. Individuals will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receipt of the last dose of the vaccine.
  • Primary Vaccination Series Only: Proof of booster dose is not currently required.
  • Pre-flight Testing Requirement Suspended: Travelers are no longer required to show a negative COVID test result to board flights to the US.
  • Contact Tracing: A CDC-issued Contact Tracing Order requires all airlines flying into the US to keep on hand – and promptly turn over to the CDC when needed – contact information that will allow public health officials to follow up with inbound air travelers who are potentially infected or have been exposed to someone infected.
  • Requirements for Children: Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers but must attest that they will comply with applicable public health requirements (a parent or other authorized person should attest on behalf of a passenger under 18 years old; children under two do not need to complete an attestation).
  • Very Limited Exceptions to Vaccine Requirement:
    • Children under 18 (see above).
    • Specific COVID-19 clinical trial participants.
    • Travelers with medical contraindications to the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Travelers issued a humanitarian or emergency exception (via a US government-issued letter).
    • Travelers entering on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC).
    • US Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18).
    • Travelers whose entry would be in the US national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (a very narrow exemption).
    • Travelers who receive an exception will generally be required to attest that they will be tested for COVID-19 three to five days after arrival (unless they have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days), self-quarantine for five days (even if the result of the test is negative unless they have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days), and self-isolate (if the test result is positive).
    • Travelers who receive an exception and intend to stay in the US for more than 60 days may additionally be required to attest that they agree to be vaccinated in the US, depending on the exception category.
  • Travel Across Canada/Mexico Land Borders or Ferry Crossings:
    • Both “nonessential” travel (e.g., tourism, personal visits) and “essential” travel (e.g., work, business visits, school) now require proof of complete vaccination:
      • Only fully vaccinated foreign nationals with an approved CDC or WHO COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to enter the US through a Canada or Mexico land border/ferry crossing.
        • Those seeking to enter must 1) verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and 2) provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination during a border inspection.
        • COVID-19 testing is not required for land border or ferry travel.
      • Unvaccinated foreign nationals will be barred from entering the US through a Canada or Mexico land border/ferry crossing unless they qualify for an exception.
      • Exceptions: Children under 18, US Lawful Permanent Residents (“Green Card” holders), and US Citizens, among others (see above), are not subject to the vaccination requirement.
  • Are you interested in learning more about travel & vaccination requirements? Visit US Department of State Travel FAQs, CDC International Travel Guidelines, or contact your Corporate Immigration Partners Team.

Make Sure Your Documents Remain Valid

  • Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least as long as the validity period on your Form I-797 Approval Notice. If not, your I-94 expiration when re-entering the US will match your passport expiration date (meaning, your period of stay in the US will be shortened). Be sure to alert your CIP legal team if this occurs.
  • Visa Stamps: For most nonimmigrant workers, you will need a valid visa stamp for the appropriate nonimmigrant category in your passport to re-enter the US. If your visa stamp is expired, you must apply for a new visa at a US Embassy/Consulate before you return.
    • Make your visa appointment via the DOS website here before you depart! Complete your DS-160 online before booking your travel to determine the availability of visa appointments. Be aware that US consulates worldwide are still operating at reduced capacity, and full visa services may have not yet resumed in your destination country.
    • Pent-up travel demand may result in long wait times for visa appointments.
    • An increase in “administrative processing” may result in unexpected delays after
      the appointment.
  • I-797 Approval & Petition: If you are in the US on a nonimmigrant employment-based petition, make sure you have your most recent original nonimmigrant petition approval notice – aka the “Form I-797 Approval Notice.” Also, be sure to have a full copy of your employer’s nonimmigrant petition. Ask your CIP team for help if you need a copy of your petition from our CIP–Envoy Web Portal.
    • L-1 Blanket Petition Applicants: You will need to present your original Form I-129S stamped by an immigration officer.
  • Proof of Continuing Employment: Bring copies of your three most recent paystubs or an Employment Verification Letter from your Human Resources (HR) to show continued employment in the US.
  • Permanent Residents/Permanent Residence Applicants
    • Make sure that you have your Green Card and that it is unexpired and undamaged.
    • If your Green Card/Adjustment of Status Application is pending, you should have your valid Advance Parole document or a valid H-1B or L-1A/B nonimmigrant visa to re-enter the US. Check with your CIP team for details or questions.
    • If you have a pending advance parole application, we recommend waiting for it to be approved before traveling internationally, as the advance parole application may be denied if you depart the US while it is still pending.

Transiting Through Other Countries or Regions

If you must transit through another country to get to your final destination (e.g., layover), ensure that you have the required visa and documents applicable to the transiting country. If you have any questions regarding the country’s visa requirements that you will be transiting through, please contact your CIP–Envoy Global Account Manager for assistance.

Plan Extra Time for Travel Delays

International travel can incur many unexpected delays; add extra time to your trip to cover increased wait times for US Customs inspection, security checkpoints, COVID screenings, and other related procedures.

Plan for potential delays and arrange travel that is refundable or can be rescheduled if needed. Check with HR and your manager and inform them of any possible delays.

When You Return

Questions from US Customs: If you are stopped or questioned by US Customs officers, US Immigration officials, or other Port of Entry/Airport personnel, be cooperative, listen carefully to any questions asked, and answer clearly and concisely. Be ready to answer questions on your immigration status, such as the following:

  • Who is your employer?
  • What is your job title?
  • What do you do in the US?
  • How long do you plan to stay?

You should review the job details listed in your most recently filed visa petition so you are prepared to answer these questions. Please check with CIP before you depart if you have any questions about how your job details appear in your petition. If you do not know the answer to an officer’s question, it is okay to say so. It is better to answer truthfully than make up an answer that can become problematic later.

Contacting CIP at US Entry: You do not have the right to an attorney at a Port of Entry or Preflight Inspection Facility. However, immigration officials are generally reasonable and understanding and may allow you to contact your attorney at CIP for assistance. If you need help after regular business hours, please call our main line, (415) 771-7500, and our emergency answering service will put you through to your attorney.

Provide CIP with your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Once you have returned to the US, remember to:

  • Check your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record online: > Get Most Recent I-94.
  • Confirm that your information is correct and that you were given the right status and duration of time.
  • Upload your and your dependent family members’ I-94 record(s) (and visas if you secured new ones) to your CIP–Envoy Web Portal after each international travel.

Following these steps will ensure that your US immigration status is adequately monitored and maintained.

Questions about your travel documents? Contact your CIP team.

Safe travels and happy holidays from the CIP Family!

Download CIP’s Holiday Travel Tips Resource Document

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Corporate Immigration Partners

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+1 312-722-6300

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+1 513-381-2011

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Europe, Middle East, and Africa
+44 20 34326564

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