November 08, 2021

White House Eases US Entry in Time for Holidays, Reuniting Families Worldwide

Countless American families breathed a sigh of relief Monday as the United States lifted an 18-month restriction on international visitors, as long as they show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.

Democrats Abroad celebrates the Biden administration’s decision to relax the restrictions as a critical step for reuniting families separated by the worst international public health crisis in a century.

“The pandemic has separated families for too long. We welcome the change of regulations which will allow vaccinated family members to visit their relatives in the US,” said Jennifer Westfall of Thailand, Co-chair of DA’s Covid-19 Task Force, which has been advocating for easing such entry restrictions. 

The nearly two-year-old pandemic has upended the lives of virtually every American at home and abroad in ways large and small.

But the rule change particularly impacts Americans with non-US citizen relatives and loved ones who will once again be able to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and everyday events together – as families.

“I am so thankful that my partner of 10 years will be able to join me and my family over Christmas,” said DA Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus Chair Emily Lines of Germany. “Due to the restrictions, he could not enter the US last year when I visited and hasn’t seen my family since 2018. It will be exciting to get to celebrate all together after so much time apart.”

The earlier rules, which were put in place by the Trump administration in March 2020, meant that many non-US citizen family members – including partners, siblings, parents, and grandparents – had been unable to visit loved ones based in the United States during the worst of the COVID pandemic.

The easing of restrictions applies to Britain and the 26 Schengen countries of Europe, as well as Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

Meanwhile, American expatriates who have not been able to get a Covid-19 vaccine where they live will continue to be allowed back into the United States.

“We are also glad that the US will still accept unvaccinated American arrivals, since, for many expats, flying back to the US may be the only hope of getting vaccinated due to exclusionary rules in local vaccination programs in places like Indonesia, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and Mexico,” Westfall said.

A survey of more than 1,000 Americans living in 30 countries conducted by Democrats Abroad earlier this year found that although vaccine access had improved for many

US citizens living overseas, 24% still lacked access to vaccines or were only partially vaccinated.

To contact the Covid-19 Task Force, please write to [email protected].

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