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DHS Indefinitely Extends COVID Vaccination Requirement for Non-U.S. Travelers Entering by Land or Ferry from Canada or Mexico

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to require non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States from Canada or Mexico by land or ferry for all purposes – including “essential” activities such as work, business or education – to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and U.S. nationals are not subject to the vaccination requirement. Exceptions from the vaccine requirement exist for children under 18 and individuals with medical contraindications, among others. The vaccine requirement will remain in place until amended or rescinded.

The issue

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to require non-U.S. travelers seeking to enter the United States by land or ferry across the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of vaccination. Advance copies of notices to be published in the Federal Register are now available.

The border vaccine requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, or U.S. nationals, as they are considered “U.S. individuals.” For others, the restrictions will remain in place until DHS amends or rescinds them. Some form of land border restrictions have been continually extended since the start of the COVID emergency in March 2020.

Who is excepted from the land border vaccination requirement

Exceptions from the land border or ferry COVID vaccine requirement exist for the following groups of non-U.S. individuals:

  • Children under 18 years of age;
  • Individuals with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Individuals with valid nonimmigrant visas (excluding B-1 or B-2 visas) who are citizens of a country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, as specified by the CDC;
  • Certain individuals on diplomatic or official foreign government travel;
  • Certain participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials;
  • 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.

These exceptions largely mirror those in place for the international air travel vaccine requirement that has been in place since early November 2021. Further details on how to qualify for each exception are provided on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Implementation of the vaccine requirement

Land border travelers will continue to be required to verbally attest to their vaccination status as well as provide proof of vaccination at the border. Accepted vaccines and proof of vaccination, and the definition of “fully vaccinated” follow existing CDC rules for international travel.

COVID-19 testing is not required for land border or ferry travel.

What the policy means for nonimmigrant travel across Canadian and Mexican borders

All nonimmigrants traveling to the United States via land border or ferry, including those entering for work or business travel in H, L, O, E, and B status, will continue to be required to show proof of full COVID vaccination in order to enter the United States, unless they qualify for an exception.

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