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Background: My girlfriend is on an F-1 visa for the United States, and is currently located in (and a citizen of) Hong Kong. She recently was in Hungary, and flew to Hong Kong via Helsinki. She has a direct flight from HKG to SFO scheduled to land in the United States over (but only an hour over) exactly 14 days since her plane departed Helsinki.

Question: In light of the language of the ban [1, Section 1] on non-citizens or non-permanent residents entering the United States who have been "physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States," I believe that she shouldn't have problems with the entry in terms of the current COVID-19 related policies, but would like to make sure that I'm not missing anything. Should I be worried about this? Is there an interpretation of "physically present" that could include an international flight? Etc..

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-certain-additional-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/

  • Take expected entry date to the US (where this will be calculated). Substract 14 days. Is that date later than the exit stamp of Helsinki? – Mark Johnson Mar 21 at 20:51
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    In addition to checking the dates, check with the airline. They may deny boarding unless is it more than 14 days since she was in the Schengen zone. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 21 at 21:03
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    @MarkJohnson An HKG to SFO flight crosses the International Date Line, which messes up simple date subtraction. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 21 at 21:07
  • @PatriciaShanahan Again, you take the date of expected entry into the us and subtract date in the passport leaving Helsinki. – Mark Johnson Mar 21 at 21:24
  • Are there any us restrictions at present for being in Hong Kong? – Mark Johnson Mar 21 at 21:26
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Thank you all very much for your comments and suggestions.

Given the uncertainty, I decided to call US Customs and Border protection (didn't even know I could; was only on hold for 3 minutes.) They said that her current plan is just as risky as coming to SFO 15 or 17 days since leaving the Schengen Area. The remaining risk is just due to the discretionary power of the CBP officer, and the CBP person on the phone said that she had heard of travelers getting turned away more than 14 days after exiting the Schengen Area because of this discretion. In her words to me, "I just hope she gets a good officer."

The one bit of advice she did give is to print out and provide documentation of travel and the relevant dates, etc., to make the situation clear to the CBP officer approving (or not) entry.

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  • An update probably too long after the fact to be useful: Yes she made it safely and was admitted into the country. – cdipaolo May 4 at 14:15

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