You may have heard that the United States has banned “non-essential” travel from Canada or Mexico to the United States. On May 13, 2020, it was reported that the Trump administration plans to extend virus border restrictions indefinitely until the Coronavirus is no longer a threat. Importantly, these limited restrictions apply only to land border crossings, not airports.
This raises the question of what travel is considered “essential.” Surprisingly, most categories of travel are considered “essential” for traffic crossing from Canada or Mexico into the United States. Returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are permitted to return from the United States. Commercial truck traffic is also allowed to pass. Workers, students, and those entering the United States will also be admitted if there is no other justification for not admitting them.
However, the virus border restrictions imposed since March 21, 2020, effectively sealed the United States to migrants seeking asylum. In addition, foreign nationals entering the United States for tourism or visiting friends or families may not enter.
Although separate from the announced restrictions on non-essential travel, health-related restrictions remain in place for those who have visited areas highly affected by Coronavirus recently, such as continental Europe. In other words, even if someone is not affected by the recently renewed restrictions, they still may be turned away or subject to quarantine if they are at high risk of infection.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.
Written by Francis Law Center Staff Daniel Lurker