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I am American and my girlfriend is a Chinese citizen who lives in the US. However, we were both in China in December and January (leaving on January 2nd, 2020) in areas that were unaffected by COVID-19 at the time.

We have a trip booked to Mexico City for spring break, so should we anticipate any issues with both traveling to Mexico and returning to the US? I assume I'll be fine, but should we prepare proof that my GF will have been in the US for 2.5 months before going to Mexico (and returning)?

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  • To be clear, you and your girlfriend are not traveling from China to Mexico, rather you are both already in the US, and traveling from US to Mexico then returning to the US? Are you traveling by air in both directions?
    – Midavalo
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 15:46
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    And can you please edit the date to include the name of the month eg January 2, 2020? In most parts of the world (including Mexico) 1/2/20 would be February 1.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 15:47
  • We are traveling by air in both directions and are not in China or traveling to China in the future. It's just that we were in China during the outbreak and so there could be issues from that.
    – Leo Adberg
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 2:52
  • I don't know if anyone can give a definitive answer on this, it may depend on the CBP agent you talk to when you arrive back in the US. You should prepare for questions and you might have no questions asked, but this would be better than assuming everything is fine and then be asked many questions you don't have any answers for. Take boarding passes, print-out from I-94 website etc., to show she's been in the US since being in China.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 18:53

2 Answers 2

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I was just reading a post by a frequent traveler on a private travel forum (so unfortunately I can't link it here). They are a US citizen (with Global Entry, Known traveler etc.) who traveled to China in early January (and returned to the US then). When returning recently from another trip (to a different country) they were flagged and questioned by CDC about the trip to China in Jan, even though this trip was unrelated. They were told to expect to be questioned every time they re-enter the US now until the virus threat dies down.
From their description it sounds like they were sent by CBP immigration officer to meet with someone from CDC, and then were sent back through to immigration (a matter of minutes to maybe an hour, although they don't specify) - they were able to easily proceed to connecting flights without issue.

So I would say that Yes you should both prepare to be questioned over your travel to China when re-entering the US. Nothing to do with being Chinese citizen, more to do with the questions for anyone who has been to China recently.

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We have just returned home from Puerto Rico. We were in Cabo San Lucas prior to that, at the start of the outbreak in China. There was a question upon check in on our return flights regarding whether we had been in China in the past 14 days. We answered no. Although our previous China trips have been two or three years ago, they did not raise any red flags for TSA or CBP.

Unlike your travel companion, my wife is not a citizen of any of the above mentioned countries (including PR being part of the US). But, beyond the initial question, I doubt your Chinese girlfriend will have an issue either. After all, CBP will have a record of anytime she has left the US. And, 2-3 months is beyond the expected 27 day (according to Reuters) incubation period of the Coronavirus.

Just don’t make any jokes about having Coronas in Mexico. 😉

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