International travel restrictions affecting Americans and other foreign nationals

March 17, 2020

Immigration Alert

Author(s): David A. Kaufman, Rachel S. Winkler, John Sandweg, David K. Cheng

To combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many countries are now restricting entry of foreign visitors, including Americans. This alert discusses new regulations implemented by Europe, China, Hong Kong, and Canada.

Over the last few weeks, we have been writing about restrictions the United States government has put on citizens of other countries in entering the U.S. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has spread, many nations are putting on their own restrictions into place that are affecting visitors from other countries, including America in particular. Clients with business, operations, and investments globally should be aware that they now face significant obstacles to making in-person visits to many nations with which they do business. Nixon Peabody’s Global Risks and Asia-Pacific teams have been monitoring these restrictions. We encourage all clients to consult local rules for entry before planning an international trip. This is a rapidly evolving situation and local rules can change quickly, even in mid-journey. We will continue to update our clients as the situation changes. Here are some highlighted nations (not a comprehensive list) with their new regulations.


While European countries manage their own borders, the European Union (EU) has endorsed a “travel restriction” (not labeled a ban) for noncitizens, including Americans, entering any of its member countries. The restriction also currently includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — but not Ireland. The limit is expected to be in effect for 30 days, but could be extended. Some exceptions to the ban include citizens of the United Kingdom (as a result of the UK/EU withdrawal agreement), family members of EU+ citizens, individuals with long-term residency status, and certain limited professionals. The EU is partially responding to block countries themselves from putting on restrictions — even barring entry of other EU citizens. Each country will announce its own specific restrictions, including an effective date.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak began in China and many countries placed restrictions on Chinese nationals entering their borders. The U.S. still has a Level 4 Do Not Travel restriction on China. However, now a large number of new virus cases in China are the result of infections in other countries. Starting on March 16, international travelers, including Americans, flying into Beijing are must go into quarantine for 14 days in a government facility. Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the virus, adopted a similar rule going into effect on the March 17 with the added provision that individuals will be billed. We expect more notices from various Chinese cities and regions.

Hong Kong

Effective Thursday, March 19, Hong Kong will require all international travelers, regardless of citizenship, to self-quarantine for 14 days.


Canada is closing its border to anyone who is not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or United States citizen — with some limited exceptions, such as immediate family, airplane crews, and diplomats. Only four airports in Canada will accept international flights: Toronto Pearson International, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Vancouver International, and Calgary International Airport. Flights from the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon are not included in the restriction.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

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