As some U.S. states are starting to re-open parts of their state, this alert is a reminder that the U.S. border with both Mexico and Canada remains closed for non-essential travel and will remain so until at least May 21st.
Federal Regulations state that individuals traveling for tourism purposes (sightseeing, recreation, gambling or attending cultural events) do not fall within the definition of “essential travel”.
On April 20, 2020, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf made the announcement as follows: “In close collaboration, the US, Mexico, and Canada have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for 30 additional days. As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread and allowing the phased opening of the country.”
“Essential travel,” includes the following:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel);
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
Individuals traveling for work should check with their immigration lawyer before making any cross-border travel plans since “essential travel” has been prone to different interpretations by CBP officials.
Mr. Harley is a Partner in the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP. Mr. Harley’s practice covers the United States and Consulates worldwide. Mr. Harley is based in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-391-2418.