Media outlets in the U.S. have recently reported that the White House has started to develop a policy requiring all foreign visitors to the United States to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

According to a senior White House official, interagency work groups have begun working on a new system which will be operational when the country can safely reopen to all visitors, even from countries which the United States currently restricts due to rising COVID-19 infections largely as a result of the Delta variant. The official quoted that the new policy will be a phased approach and that over time, with limited exceptions, foreign visitors from all countries will need to demonstrate proof that they are fully vaccinated.

Prior to the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, the United States has restricted entry from visitors traveling from China in January 2020. Since March 2020, the United States has enlarged the list of restrictive countries to include 26 Schengen nations, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and most recently, India as of May 2021.

While White House interagency discussions have focused on  COVID-19 vaccinations for foreign visitors arriving by air, no official announcement has been made on whether proof of vaccination will be required for those arriving by land arriving from Canada or Mexico. Currently, all travelers flying to the United States must present proof of a COVID-19 negative swab test within 72 hours prior to departure.

Critics of the proposed restrictions say that such measures no longer make sense because some countries with high COVID-19 infection rates are not on the restricted list while some countries on the list already have the pandemic under control.

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