How European Citizens are Getting Around the US Travel Ban

When the European Union decided to open up travel for American citizens, it looked like tourism was finally on its way back. However, as of now, it’s a one-way street and the Biden administration has yet to make a statement on whether the travel ban will be lifted in time for the holidays. Europeans from the 29-Schengen countries as well as the UK and Ireland are currently not allowed to enter the United States unless they spend 14-days in a country that DOES NOT appear on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of prohibited countries. Vaccination does not grant you entry if you hold a passport from a prohibited country, either. 

As a result of the US’s policy towards Europe, EU member states are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of reciprocity when it comes to tourism. The frustration goes far beyond vacations, as well. Those who’s business brings them to the United States frequently are out of luck, as well as families and unmarried couples who haven’t been able to see each other since the restrictions went into effect in March 2020. There was a brief period at the end of President Donald Trump’s term when the ban was lifted, but it was reinstated by President Joe Biden following his inauguration. 

List of Countries Barred from Entering the United States

The full list of European countries barred from travel to the U.S. is as follows: United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. The US also bars citizens from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India from entering the country as well. 

There is a workaround, however, but the process is long and expensive and certainly not ideal for tourists and those who rely on travel to the United States for their livelihood. 

What’s the Workaround?

For Europeans, there’s a workaround to getting into the United States if you really need to, but the process is long and expensive. The first step is find a country not on the US’s prohibited list. For most Europeans, Turkey is a solid option. As are Romania, Croatia or Albania.

Europeans who enter Turkey, for example, with hopes of eventually ending up in America need to spend 14-days in the Eurasian country before they can fly to an American city. Unless you know someone in Turkey who can host you, that means 14-days laying low at a hotel so you don’t catch COVID-19, plus the airfare getting there, plus the cost of the flight to the United States. It’s not a preferable workaround, but for now, it’s the only way. 

There are other countries for which this trick works, like the Dominican Republic for example, but with visa delays a common occurrence these days, the process could end up being much longer than 14 days. Also, a hotel in a country like the Dominican could end up being a resort and far more expensive than a hotel room in an Eastern European country, for example. 

One European citizen who’s work brings them to the United States frequently who asked to remain anonymous outlined the laundry list of headaches getting into the US causes. He spent two weeks alone in an Albanian hotel to get around the travel ban and ensure a negative COVID-19 test result, a requirement for anyone, citizens included, to enter the United States. We’re all used to working from home at this point, but it’s obvious that a 2-week stay in a country you don’t want to be in hinders productivity and can even have a negative impact on mental health. 

In July, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki cited the rise of the dangerous Delta variant of COVID-19 as the primary reason why travel restrictions would remain in place for the foreseeable future. That includes a continued moratorium for bordering nations Mexico and Canada, where nonessential travel has been prohibited since the start of the pandemic. Europe as whole was slow out of the gate to begin vaccinating citizens, but since then, has surpassed the United States in terms of total vaccinations adjusted for population. In July alone, countries in the EU administered four times more shots than the US partly due to widespread availability and a much smaller, much less vocal sect of anti-vaxxers than found in America. 

For now, US travelers are free to visit a long list of foreign countries, but should the US continue banning those citizens from visiting, there’s always the chance those travel privileges are revoked for US citizens.