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Restrictions for Travelers entering the U.S. from China, Iran, Italy and South Korea

Updated: Jun 07, 2023  | Tags: Border Security, ESTA, COVID-19

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions have been lifted

Effective from 12:01 am Eastern Daylight Time on May 12, 2023, foreign individuals traveling on nonimmigrant visas or ESTA are no longer required to demonstrate that they have received a full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine before boarding an aircraft bound for the United States. To provide some historical context, initial COVID-19 testing rules for inbound travel to the U.S. were implemented back in 2020, as a part of the early response to the global pandemic.


In an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), the United States is introducing restrictions on travel for foreign nationals coming from China and Iran as well as introduced travel advisories for Italy and South Korea. Individuals with an approved ESTA or U.S. visa are considered to be foreign nationals, and are subject to the restrictions below:

  • Foreign nationals who reside in China, or who intend to travel to China before entering the United States, or who have traveled to China recently should postpone their interview for a US visa for 14 days after leaving China.
  • Foreign nationals who reside in Iran, or who intend to travel to Iran before entering the United States, or who have traveled to Iran recently should postpone their interview for a US visa for 14 days after leaving Iran.
  • United States citizens who have visited Hubei will be subject to 14 days of quarantine on their return.
  • All travelers entering from China, Italy, Iran or South Korea will be subject to screening upon their arrival to the United States.
  • United States citizens who have visited other parts of China or Iran will be subject to health screening and must self-isolate for 14 days with ongoing monitoring of their health.

The United States government has also announced Level 4 travel advisories for Italy and South Korea, which means travelers are advised not to visit regions in these countries that have been affected by the Coronavirus. 

President Trump has stated that additional measures may be taken to reduce arrivals of foreign nationals into the United States, however, domestic restrictions are not expected to be introduced. 

Coronavirus Impacts on Air Carriers

The Trump Administration has attempted to reassure the public that flying is safe to and that airlines are taking appropriate measures to sanitize aircraft between flights. However, due to a drop in demand, several airlines have started reducing their services on flights to the United States. British Airways has reduced the number of flights into U.S. destinations such as New York as well as other cities. United Airlines has also reduced domestic and international travel within and outside the United States. Norwegian Airlines also announced that between March 28th and May 5th that 22 long-haul routes between Europe and the U.S. would be cancelled. Airlines have also offered their staff paid leave during the period of reduced consumer demand. The route and cost reduction actions taken by the airlines are likely to increase in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. 

In response to the increase demand for flight rescheduling, several airlines have waived their ticket change fees so travelers are advised to check with their air carrier to determine if they are eligible to alter their itineraries without penalties.

Considerations for ESTA Applicants

If you intend to visit the United States for a tourism, business or transit visit of less than 90 days, and you hold a passport from a Visa Waiver country, you can still apply for an ESTA as long as you have no previous travel to China or Iran in the 14 days prior to your arrival into the United States. If you have visited China or Iran within 14 days of your arrival to the United States, you will likely be denied boarding on your flight or sea carrier to the United States.

Travelers should apply for an ESTA at least several days or weeks before their arrival to allow for any processing delays.

Restrictions for travelers entering the U.S. from the European Union

For more information on restrictions for travelers who are wishing to enter the United States from a country within the European Union due to Proclamation 9993, please visit the page on Travel Restrictions from Europe to the United States for more information.