Tribune. In June, European states will reopen their borders to vaccinated American travelers, a non-binding relaxation decided by twenty-seven, on a proposal from the European Commission. France is working on an opening before mid-June, once a vaccine verification system has been set up, still under study. For Americans who have been banned from Europe for fifteen months, this is a relief. Not only will the beaches of the Mediterranean be accessible to them, but they will also be able to freely find their loved ones. Europeans are not so lucky, and thousands of families, couples and loved ones remain separated by an ocean.
The restrictions put in place by US presidential proclamation in March 2020, to limit the number of travelers between the United States and Europe, are still in effect. Briefly terminated by President Trump when he left in January, they were immediately reinstated by Joe Biden, who has made the fight against Covid-19 the priority of his administration. To this day, entry into the United States remains prohibited for travelers. “Physically present during the last 14 days” in the Schengen area, in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, except in the case of the award of a national interest exception [exception d’intérêt national].
Binationals, green card holders, diplomats, journalists and students have an automatic entry fee, while national interest exceptions are allocated on a case-by-case basis to workers “Providing vital support to critical infrastructure sectors”. For others, business or tourist travelers, investors, employees stationed in the United States, business creators, exchange visitors, tens of thousands of expatriates with careers in one country and family in the other, the entry ban has not known any respite for fifteen months.
Services that operate at reduced speed
However, being the holder of a long-stay visa linked to a status or a professional activity does not grant the right to enter the United States. Subject to the same regime as tourists, these Europeans holding so-called non-immigrant visas must apply for a national interest exception to be able to return to the United States, which, more often than not, they are refused. In addition, the visa services of the American consulates in Europe have been operating on a reduced basis for months. According to the State Department website, the current waiting time for an appointment for a nonimmigrant visa is 98 days in Berlin, 165 days in Madrid, 372 days in Paris and 999 days in Rome.
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