Thursday, December 18, 2014

CBP Launches Border Wait Time App

From, 12/16/2014

Planning Your Trip Across the Border Just Got Easier

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today launched the Border Wait Time app making it easier for travelers to plan their trip across the border. The app provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land ports of entry allowing travelers to make an informed decision of where and when to cross the border. Wait times for pedestrian and passenger and commercial vehicle crossings are broken down by lane type (standard, SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, Ready Lane, etc.). Travelers can download the app for free from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“CBP continues to deploy technology that enhances the travel experience at all of our ports of entry,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “The launch of this app will provide travelers crossing the land border with more information when and where they need it.”
The app is a one-stop shop for cross border travel. Travelers can locate the three ports of entry closest to their location and then map the best route to the crossing of their choice. For example, the app allows travelers in the Buffalo, New York area to compare wait times at the Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Lewiston Queenston Bridge and will then direct them to whichever crossing they chose.

The app was developed by CBP and does not require individuals to register or provide any personal information. CBP does not store or have access to any information regarding travelers using the app.
The Border Wait Time app is just one example of CBP’s effort to create a traveler-friendly processing environment. CBP has deployed Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks to more than 25 airports, including most recently at preclearance locations in Edmonton, Canada and Aruba. Much like APC, CBP launched Mobile Passport Control, the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s entry into the United States, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this summer. CBP has also enrolled more than three million travelers in trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI. These programs allow CBP officers to process travelers safely and efficiently while enhancing security and reducing operational costs.

Friday, December 5, 2014

President Announces Plans for Employment based Immigration

In a speech to the nation in November, President Obama announced several initiatives to facilitate the hiring and retention of skilled workers. The President laid out a broad outline for administrative reform, with several agency directives now published on the DHS website. The timing of the implementation of each discrete action will be different, with some taking place very soon and others, particularly those requiring regulatory review, taking several months or longer. Here is a brief summary of the President’s initiatives pertaining to employment based immigration:

Ability to File Adjustment of Status Applications Earlier: The President’s action includes revamping the way that the employment-based green card backlog is administered, with the goal of allowing for the earlier filing of adjustment of status applications. Once implemented, both principal applicants and dependent family members would be able to obtain employment authorization and advance parole at an earlier point in time. Since adjustment of status applications could be filed earlier, green card portability would also be facilitated The proposal is expected to be published in the Federal Register, though it is unclear whether it would appear as a proposed or interim rule. If the former, it may take quite a while before final promulgation. 

H-4 Spousal Employment: Finalization of the new rule permitting employment authorization for certain H-4 spouses of H-1B workers in the green card process is expected in the next two months. Further expansion of spousal work authorization is also being considered. 

Expansion of STEM OPT: The President plans to accelerate inter-agency discussions to expand Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities for F-1 students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Proposed changes are expected to include expansion and extension of the existing program and to require an ongoing link between work and course of study through continued ties between OPT students and their schools after graduation. 

Source:, 11/21/2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Graduate Housing Annual Holiday Party

On behalf of Graduate Family Housing, all international employees and their families are invited to the Graduate & Family Housing Holiday Party. 

When: This Friday, Dec. 5th, 6:00 pm- 8pm

Where: 10th and Home Activity Room

What: Santa will come to Tenth and Home Family Housing Apartments (THA Activity Room).  Santa will give a present to every child and anyone can get pictures taken with Santa.

Sponsored by Graduate and Family Housing and GT Student Alumni Association 

Questions? Please contact Maz Kosma at

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday Travel Planning for Foreign Nationals

From, 11/13/2014

If you are a foreign national planning to travel abroad during the upcoming holiday season, now is the right time to make sure you are prepared, from an immigration perspective, to depart and reenter the United States. Understanding your immigration obligations can help minimize delays on reentry. 


Before you travel abroad this holiday season, make sure to do the following: 

Check your passport validity. In general, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the expiration of your period of admission to the United States. This is to ensure that you will be able to leave the United States at the end of your stay and proceed to your home country or another country. There are some exceptions to this rule. Many countries have an agreement with the United States under which a passport is deemed valid for an additional six months past its expiration date so that the passport holder can return to his or her country of citizenship. 

Check your visa to make sure it is valid for reentry to the United States. When you come back to the United States after international travel, the visa stamp in your passport must reflect your current nonimmigrant visa status, it must be unexpired, and, if the visa has a limited number of entries, it must have a remaining valid entry available on the intended date of reentry to the United States. 

Under certain circumstances, if you are making a short trip of 30 days or less to Canada or Mexico and have a valid I-94 arrival record, you can reenter on a previously issued visa even if it has expired. But if you have applied for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico or if you are a citizen or national of Cuba, Iran, Sudan or Syria, you must wait to obtain the new visa in order to reenter the United States. 

For additional information on visa requirements, click here

If you are an adjustment applicant, find out whether you need advance permission to travel before you leave the United States. If you are an applicant for adjustment of status to permanent residence, you may be required to obtain advance permission to travel – known as advance parole – in order to leave the United States while your adjustment application is pending. 

If you already have a valid H-1B or H-4 visa, you may reenter the United States on that visa, without the need for advance parole. Family members in H-4 status who have worked in the United States should be cautious when traveling, however, and obtain and use an advance parole for reentry to the United States. 

Is a change or extension of your status pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? Traveling abroad while your extension application is pending should not jeopardize your application. But if you have a change of status application pending, you should avoid international travel until it is adjudicated. USCIS will consider the change of status request to be abandoned if you depart the United States while it is pending. Though the underlying nonimmigrant petition could still be approved, you would need to depart the United States, apply for and obtain a new visa, and reenter to take up the new status. Find out additional information here

If you’re planning business or tourist travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, make sure you comply with program requirements. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens and nationals of designated countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days of business or tourist travel without a visa, provided that they meet specific registration and passport requirements. If you’re planning to travel under the VWP, you will need to have a valid registration in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours before your departure for the United States. Find out more about VWP passport and ESTA requirements here


Plan for the possibility of visa issuance delays at U.S. consulates. During the holiday travel season, U.S. consulates overseas are busier than ever and may have reduced hours. If you will apply for a new visa while abroad, check the relevant consulate or embassy for specific information about appointments, application procedures and processing times. Detailed information about visa application procedures is available here

Plan for possible security clearance delays during the visa application process. The U.S. consulate may require your visa application to undergo additional security checks based on your country of nationality, whether your name is similar to an individual listed in a U.S. government security database, whether your job or degree is in a high-technology field, among other reasons. If a security clearance is required, your visa cannot be issued until the clearance has been completed. Because this process is confidential, the consulate will not confirm that a security clearance is underway but may indicate that “administrative processing” is required. Security clearances can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or more. In general, the government will not expedite a security clearance. 

At the U.S. port of entry, be prepared for security screening procedures. When you return to the United States, you will need to go through the Biometric Data Collection System (formerly known as US-VISIT), a check-in process where your fingerprints, photograph and travel documents are scanned against U.S. national security and police databases. You may also be subject to intensive questioning about your immigration status, travel history, the purpose of your visit, background, employment and other issues. 

It is important to remain patient during these procedures and answer all questions clearly. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. I For detailed information about border procedures, click here

Obtain your Form I-94 arrival record. Once you have been cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at an air or sea port of entry, your passport will be stamped to show the date and class of admission, and the expiration date of your authorized stay. Your immigration information and duration of stay will also be entered into CBP’s online I-94 arrival record system. The expiration date on the passport stamp and on the I-94 record marks the expiration of your eligibility to remain in valid legal status in the U.S. 

After your arrival in the United States, it is recommended that you check your online I-94 here. Retain a copy for your records. Notify Customs and Border Protection as soon as possible if you note any errors in your I-94 record. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Driver Services Commissioner Announces New Online Service “Pre-Apply Online” Fill Out Application Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device

Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell announced today a new online customer service tool designed to improve licensing efficiency and ultimately reduce customer wait times.  Pre-Apply Online enables customers to jump start their licensing service by submitting a completed application for a license, permit or identification card before visiting the DDS.
This additional online enhancement helps fulfill the DDS mission of embracing new technologies to serve a greater number of customers more efficiently.  “Customers who Pre-Apply Online will skip the sometimes awkward task of completing the required paperwork while listening for their number to be called,” Commissioner Mikell said.  “The submitted information populates directly to the mainframe, reducing data entry time and any potential typing errors at the time of service.”
Since launching this feature on September 16th, over 2,600 customers have accessed, completed and successfully transmitted the required application online. Out of the participants, 1,100 have visited DDS to complete their service.
About the Process
  • Customers will click on the “Save Time! Pre Apply Online” tab on the Agency’s website homepage to review the requirements and begin the application.
  • Pre-Apply Online is a free service for existing or new DDS customers and can be accessed from any device that has Internet capability including smart phones and tablets.
  • All customers must have a social security number.
  • Customers UNDER THE AGE OF 18 are required to print the application and bring it with them (along with their parent/guardian) when they visit the DDS.
  • Pre-apply Online is easy to navigate and can be saved and accessed for 30 days before expiring. 
  • Customers have the option of printing a confirmation page and/or the completed application.
  • Within 30 days, customers should visit a DDS center with the required Secure ID documentation (review identity and residency requirements here
  • If customers are unable to make it into a DDS center within thirty days, the application will expire, and they will need to Pre-Apply again.
  • Customers that provide their email address will have a reminder sent to them prior to the application expiration date.
Please visit the DDS website,, for complete driver education, testing and issuance information including new Federal Homeland Security requirements to establish identity and residency.

Monday, November 10, 2014

U.S., China to extend visa validity to boost trade, tourism

From Reuters, 11/10/2014

China and the United States have agreed to significantly extend the terms of short-term visas, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday in Beijing, a deal he said would improve trade and business ties between the world's two largest economies.
Under the deal, which the United States will put into effect on Nov. 12, both countries would extend the terms of multiple entry short-term tourist and business visas to 10 years from one year, the White House said in an accompanying statement. Student visas would be extended to five years from one year.
"As a result of this arrangement, the United States hopes to welcome a growing share of eligible Chinese travelers, inject billions (of dollars) in the U.S. economy and create enough demand to support hundreds of thousands of additional U.S. jobs," the White House said in an emailed statement.
Obama made the announcement to business leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum after arriving in Beijing on the first leg of an eight-day Asia tour.
The extension of some visas for Chinese nationals to 10 years matches what is currently allowed for citizens of nations with close relations with the United States, such as European countries and Brazil.
A senior U.S. official said the visa agreement would allow the United States to tap into the fast-growing market of Chinese tourists traveling abroad. The United States now attracts only 2 percent of Chinese tourism.
"We see this as a really big win," the official said, estimating that the United States could gain 440,000 jobs by 2021 and receive an $85 billion annual infusion into the American economy as a result of the new policy.
It will also make it easier for Chinese businesses and investors to get involved in U.S. projects.
A second U.S. official said the political benefit of greater contact between Americans and Chinese would "get to some of the core sources of distrust and competition at the heart of the U.S.-China relationship".
Chinese travelers have long complained about extensive waiting times for pending U.S. visa applications, although the United States says it has made significant improvements.

Friday, November 7, 2014

December 2014 Visa Bulletin: Advancements for EB-3 China and Worldwide

From, 11/07/2014

According to the State Department’s December Visa Bulletin, the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will move ahead by five months for most countries with the exception of India. EB-3 China will advance to June 1, 2010 and EB-3 worldwide will advance to November 1, 2012 for most other countries. EB-3 India will move ahead by just one week, to December 1, 2003. 

As expected, EB-2 China will advance by three weeks, to January 1, 2010, and EB-2 India will remain at February 15, 2005. 

December 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 
In December 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

Current for all countries. 

China: January 1, 2010 
India: February 15, 2005 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: June 1, 2010 
India: December 1, 2003 
All other countries: November 1, 2012 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: July 22, 2005 
India: December 1, 2003 
All other countries: November 1, 2012 

Current for all countries and subcategories. 

USCIS Website Gets a New Look and Enhanced Tools

On Friday, Nov. 7, USCIS’ website will have a new look and a better Case Status tool.
The updated homepage for and will still offer the user-friendly icons and tabs you are familiar with, and it will now provide easy-to-navigate sections on USCIS news, outreach events, educational webinars, and other services. You can now access the enhanced Case Status tool on your mobile device. The tool now includes case history, next steps and clearer information. The new look of the website and updates to Case Status will give customers a unified user experience from one, trusted government source.
To learn more about the tools you can use to track your case, submit case questions, and avoid spending time on the phone, visit the USCIS customer tools page at

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Visa Waiver Travelers to Face Additional Security Screenings

From, 11/03/2014

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will tighten screening measures on travelers who use the Visa Waiver Program in response to concerns over Islamist militants who hold U.S. or European passports.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced[1] on November 3 that it is putting in place additional security measures for travelers to the United States who use the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Visa Waiver is available to citizens of principally Western European countries and enables such citizens to travel to the United States as visitors without first securing a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. Under these new measures, those seeking to travel to the United States from countries in the VWP will be required to provide additional data fields of information in the travel application submitted via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The new information sought includes additional passport data, contact information, and other potential names or aliases. These additional security measures are a response to growing concerns that foreign fighters who joined Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq may seek to travel to the United States. According to CBP, many of these individuals may possess valid European and U.S. passports or travel documents and pose a potential threat for committing terrorist attacks in Europe or the United States.
What does this mean for travelers?
Travelers who use the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States as visitors will need to submit additional pretravel clearance information via the ESTA system. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. The additional questions that VWP travelers will be required to answer encompass the following:
  • Other names/aliases or other citizenships
  • Parents’ name(s)
  • National identification number (if applicable)
  • Contact information (email, phone, points of contact)
  • Employment information (if applicable)
  • City of birth
Individuals with a current and valid ESTA clearance do not need to reapply. However, upon the expiration of that ESTA clearance or expiration of the individual’s VWP-country passport, a new ESTA clearance with the new data fields will be required for any future travel under the VWP.
As a result of these new clearance questions, it is possible that individuals who have passports from more than one country will require manual adjudication of ESTA clearance requests, leading to delay of ESTA processing. Similarly, an individual’s answers to the questions may, in some instances, lead to denial of ESTA clearance, which will require that those individuals apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate before they are eligible to travel to the United States as a visitor.
What should you do?
Travelers who use the VWP should apply for ESTA clearance at the earliest opportunity and should be prepared for an increased possibility that there will be a delay or a denial of ESTA clearance. In the event that ESTA clearance is denied, the individual will be required to apply for an actual visa at a U.S. consulate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

November 2014 Visa Bulletin

From, 10/09/2014

Major Retrogression for EB-2 India, EB-3 Advancement for Most Countries

According to the State Department’s November Visa Bulletin, the EB-2 India priority date cut-off will retrogress by more than four years, to February 15, 2005, after significant advancements over the last several months. EB-2 China will advance by just three weeks, to December 8, 2009. 

EB-3 will see substantial advancements for most countries. The EB-3 China priority date will advance nine months, to January 1, 2010. All other countries except India will advance eight months, to June 1, 2012. India will move forward by one week, to November 22, 2003. 

Source: Department of State

November 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 
In November 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

EB-1 Current for all countries. 

EB-2 China: December 8, 2009 India: February 15, 2005 All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers China: January 1, 2010 India: November 22, 2003 All other countries: June 1, 2012 

EB-3 Other Workers China: July 22, 2005 India: November 22, 2003 All other countries: June 1, 2012 

EB-5 Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Availability in the Coming Months 
The State Department projects that EB-3 will continue to advance significantly for China and most other countries in the next three months. But if EB-3 demand increases, cut-off dates could be retrogressed early next year, particularly for China. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FY 2016 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 1

From, 09/22/2014

The State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery starting Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at noon EDT. Foreign nationals who wish to enter the lottery have until Monday, November 3, 2014 at noon EST to file online.

The DV lottery program makes 50,000 green card numbers available each year through random selection. FY 2016 lottery results will be announced in May 2015. Foreign nationals selected in the FY 2016 lottery can submit their green card applications starting on October 1, 2015.

Who Is Eligible to Enter the Lottery? 
The DV lottery is open to natives of countries that have historically low rates of immigration to the United States. Entrants must have a high school education (or equivalent) or at least two years of qualifying work experience.

Individuals from countries with high rates of U.S. immigration are not eligible to register.
This year, those born in the following countries are ineligible: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

People born in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can participate.

DV lottery applicants may include a spouse (same-sex or opposite-sex) and children in their initial entries or add a spouse and children after their initial registration.

Those people who cannot register because their country of birth is excluded may be able to qualify through a spouse who was born in an eligible country or, in certain circumstances, through a parent’s country of birth.

Registering for the Lottery 
To register, entrants must submit an online form and a digital photo through the official DV lottery website. Only one entry is permitted per person. If there are multiple registrations on behalf of one person, all of them are disqualified.

Applicants must carefully follow the State Department’s official lottery instructions. Lottery entries and digital photos that do not precisely conform to the instructions will be disqualified.

Once the application is accepted, applicants will receive a confirmation number, which can be used to check the status of their application.

How Are Lottery Winners Chosen and Notified? 
The State Department chooses lottery winners by random computer selection. Results will be published starting May 2, 2015 through at least June 30, 2016, on the official DV lottery entry status website.

Foreign nationals can learn whether they were selected only by visiting the official website and entering their confirmation number. The State Department does not notify entrants by letter, e-mail, fax or telephone. The official website is the only legitimate source of lottery results.

Guarding Against Lottery Fraud 
Unfortunately, DV lottery fraud is very common. However, foreign nationals can and should take a few precautions to protect themselves.
  • Look out for deceptive lottery websites. The only authorized DV lottery website is located on the State Department website. The State Department does not use or authorize any outside individual or company to accept lottery applications or operate the lottery. But websites posing as official government sites or claiming to have State Department authorization abound. They should be avoided.
  • The State Department does not charge a fee for lottery registrations. A website, individual or company claiming there is a government fee to enter the lottery is fraudulent.
  • If lottery assistance is needed, seek competent advice. Applicants may use a lawyer or other representative to prepare a lottery registration, but they should be wary of commercial websites that claim to register applicants outside of the registration period or purport to be authorized by the State Department to accept registrations for a fee.
  • Beware of lottery e-mails, letters or faxes that claim to be from the State Department. The State Department does not send e-mails, letters or faxes about the DV lottery. The official website is the only legitimate source of information about lottery results and the only place to submit a lottery registration.
  • Be skeptical of any communication claiming a foreign national has won the DV lottery when he or she did not register or registered in a previous year.
  • Avoid sending money or personal information to questionable individuals or companies.
  • Learn more about DV lottery fraud by visiting the websites of the State Departmentand the Federal Trade Commission.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Major Retrogression in the EB-2/India Immigrant Visa Category Expected in the Fall of 2014

From, 09/15/2014

The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin sets out per country priority dates that regulate when an individual may begin the final phase of the “green card” process, either through adjustment of status or consular processing of an immigrant visa application. Those with a priority date that is earlier than the date listed for that visa category and country can proceed with their application.
Last week, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the DOS’s Visa Control and Reporting Division, announced that due to the high volume of pending employment-based second preference EB-2/India petitions, effective immediately, the EB-2/India preference category will be "unavailable" through the end of the current federal fiscal year ending on September 30, 2014.
At the same time, Oppenheim indicated that visa numbers for EB-2/India should be available as of October 1, 2014, at the start of the new federal fiscal year. However, most importantly, visa retrogression for the EB-2 India category is possible as early as November 2014. Thus, it is likely that there will be a narrow window of time for current EB-2/India-based adjustment of status (AOS) applications to be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) this fall.
September 2014
USCIS will continue to accept EB-2 India AOS filings with a current priority date. However, since the EB-2 India category has been made “unavailable” and visa numbers are no longer available in this category for September, USCIS may not act on cases until October.
October 2014
The October 2014 Visa Bulletin lists the EB-2/India category with a cutoff date of May 1, 2009. EB-2/India-based AOS applications with a priority date prior to May 1, 2009 should be accepted by USCIS during October.
November 2014 and Beyond
Given the demand in this category, DOS predicts the priority date for EB-2/India will likely retrogress from May 1, 2009 to early 2005, which may occur as soon as November 2014.
A significant percentage of EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades by Indian nationals is cited as a major factor with respect to the predicted retrogression, and DOS expects a large volume of such filings in the coming months. Therefore, EB-2/India applicants with priority dates prior to May 1, 2009, should file their AOS applications before the end of October 2014. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

CBP Releases Mobile Application, Allowing Some Travelers to Bypass Customs Line

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released a mobile application called “Mobile Passport” that allows frequent traveler to bypass customs lines.  The app is currently available for iPhones and will soon be available for Android devices.

The app is currently available for use in Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

To use the app, users will need to download the app, enter passport information, answer a few questions and submit the answers to CBP.  Once approved, users will be able to use designated “mobile passport control” lines to skip general customs lines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

October 2014 Visa Bulletin

From, 09/09/2014

EB-3 China and Worldwide Advance; Upcoming EB-2 India Retrogression Likely

According to the State Department’s October Visa Bulletin, the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers for China will advance by five months, to April 1, 2009. EB-3 will advance one week, to November 15, 2003, for India, and by six months for all other countries, to October 1, 2011. 

EB-2 China will advance by five weeks, to November 15, 2009. EB-2 India will remain at May 1, 2009 in October, but the State Department warns that retrogression for the category is likely and could occur as early as November due to increased demand. 

October 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 

In October 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

EB-1 Current for all countries. 

EB-2 China: November 15, 2009 
India: May 1, 2009 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: April 1, 2009 
India: November 15, 2003 
Philippines: October 1, 2011 
All other countries: October 1, 2011 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: July 22, 2005 
India: November 15, 2003 
Philippines: October 1, 2011 
All other countries: October 1, 2011 

EB-5 Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa

From, 08/28/2014

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.   

This Travel Alert will expire on February 27, 2015.
Due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued  Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD.  The CDC also issued a Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria to notify travelers of the Ebola outbreak in that country.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD.  Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions.  Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period.  Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it.  For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.
The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive.  We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).  Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 
Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries.  U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 
The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans.  Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice.  Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warning and Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries.  For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).