The Trump administration is rolling out a new set of rules that will be put in place to protect U.S. travelers at international borders, including those on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced details about the changes Monday in a press release. The new policy requires all non-U.S. citizens coming into the country to have “substantially more information than what was previously required” before they can enter the United States.
They must show more documentation when entering the country, and they need to provide proof of identity and travel history, according to the DHS announcement. Under the new guidelines, travelers from countries with limited or no access to American airports are also subject to additional scrutiny, according to the DHS.
This change comes amid heightened concerns over COVID-19 infections in the United States, which has resulted in more people traveling internationally to visit family members. As a result, the number of people coming into the country through the southern border has increased substantially, as many of them cross through areas without adequate screening. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency processed 1 million fewer visitors along the southwest border in March compared to February, when there were around 3 million fewer people crossing the Southwest border into the United States. In response, CBP has stepped up its efforts to monitor U.S. citizens who do not possess proper travel documents.
These stricter standards apply only to people who come into the U.S. for tourism or business purposes, but if you are visiting friends and relatives in the U.S., the new guidelines still apply. If you plan to stay in the United States for longer than 90 days, you may need to get an ESTA waiver if you don’t already hold one. However, you cannot request a waiver if you have been in contact with someone who recently traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, or other affected countries within 14 days before your arrival in the United States.
What this means for travelers
According to the DHS, the new rules require travelers to submit certain information in advance before they arrive at a port of entry into the United States. The information includes name, date of birth, gender, passport number, nationality, address, phone numbers, email addresses, next of kin information, emergency contacts, medical conditions, criminal convictions, and any other pertinent personal information.
If you want to bring children under 18 years old or babies less than two months old on vacation with you, you now need to present a valid form of identification for each passenger. This includes passports, driver’s licenses, green cards, student IDs, work visas, etc. You won’t be able to use a U.S. birth certificate or Social Security card to establish age. And if you’re bringing pets on board, you’ll have to provide proof of vaccination records as well.
You can still bring your pet onto a plane, but you’ll need to provide a receipt showing it had been vaccinated against rabies. If you are flying internationally, you’ll need to get a TSA-approved vaccine for your animal while you’re boarding your flight, and then you can take care of the rest once you land.
While the government acknowledges these new rules are meant to help prevent foreign nationals from posing a risk to public health, they could potentially discourage some travelers from going to the United States. The new rules could cause headaches for those who want to visit loved ones in the U.S. or take a vacation here. But the measures are necessary to safeguard the safety of Americans by increasing border security.
How to prepare for the new rules
To make sure you’re prepared for the new requirements, you should familiarize yourself with the new procedures outlined in the guidance document. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Get all of your paperwork ready ahead of time. Check your airline tickets, hotel reservation confirmation emails, car rental reservations, etc. to see if you need to gather any additional documentation. If you’re staying in another state, check whether you need to pack an extra suitcase.
Bring your most recent copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit/debit cards, and any other forms of ID you currently carry. Make sure you have your boarding pass handy, too. If you’re planning to rent a car, make sure you have your vehicle registration papers ready as well.
If you’re taking a trip overseas, make sure you have your passport ready to go and all relevant travel documents in order. If you’re traveling via airplane, make sure you have your vaccinations ready. Remember to bring your boarding pass and any other relevant information so you can verify your itinerary when you arrive at your destination.
You may also want to read up on coronavirus prevention methods and precautions for tourists in the U.S., including hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask usage. And if you’re looking for ways to entertain your kids during quarantine, we’ve got plenty of ideas.
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