KNOW YOUR RIGHTS – Federal Quarantine Requirements

The current concerns for the spread of the COVID-19, known commonly as the novel coronavirus, have left many individuals — in particular those returning to the United States after international travel — with questions about their rights upon arriving at the U.S. border.

There are several countries that have been categorized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with level 3 travel health notice. These countries include: China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.

This following document serves as a guide for individuals traveling from overseas who have questions about their rights.

Who will be impacted?

According to the U.S. CDC (“CDC”), all travelers entering the U.S. after visiting Iran may be subject to health screening. Prior to entry into the country, U.S. customs officers may ask a series of questions related to travels and health. Travelers coming from Iran may be asked about their respiratory health or be subjected to medical physical evaluation, such as recordation of their body temperature. Depending on the circumstances, travelers with risk of infection may be separated in isolation or those who are at risk of infection may be quarantined or ask to self-quarantine.

U.S. citizens and residents** entering the U.S. after visiting Iran may be sent to the following airports for screening:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York (JFK)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Those travelers will have some level of restriction on their movement depending on their health and travel history.

With respect to foreign nationals (i.e., non U.S. citizens/legal residents), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reserves the right to deny entry to foreign nationals who visited Iran in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the U.S.

** In addition to US Citizens and Permanent Residents. this presidential proclamation does not apply to other categories. The complete list is provided at the end of the document Appendix 1.

Federal Authority

Under section 361 of Public Health Services Act, the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable disease from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

CDC carries out the HHS’ duties: Under Code 42 of Federal Regulations parts 70 and 71, CDC is authorized to detain, medically examine, and release persons arriving into the United States and traveling between states who are suspected of carrying these communicable diseases.

As part of its federal authority, CDC routinely monitors persons arriving at U.S. land border crossings and passengers and crew arriving at U.S. ports of entry for signs or symptoms of communicable diseases.

When alerted about an ill passenger or crew member by the pilot of a plane or captain of a ship, CDC may detain passengers and crew as necessary to investigate whether the cause of the illness on board is a communicable disease.

FAQ

If I test positive for Coronavirus what will happen? Where will I be held?

If a quarantinable disease is suspected or identified, CDC may issue a federal isolation or quarantine order. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and U.S. Coast Guard officers are authorized to help enforce federal quarantine orders.

It should be noted that breaking a federal quarantine order is punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Federal law allows the conditional release of persons from quarantine if they comply with medical monitoring and surveillance.

In the rare event that a federal order is issued by CDC, those individuals will be provided with an order for quarantine or isolation.

A location will be determined at the time a quarantine order is issued.

Who pays for the quarantine or isolation costs?

The costs associated with an isolation or quarantine are borne by the United States. However, the United States will not compensate for loss of income, or employment as a result of being quarantined.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), together with state and local public health partners, will arrange for adequate food and water, a continued place to stay at the location of quarantine, medical treatment, and a way for you to communicate with a family member or another representative while you are held in federal quarantine.

What types of questions will the CBP officers ask me?

You may be required to disclose the locations that you have travelled to or visited in the past 14 days, whether you have been in contact with any sick individuals, and the length of your stay at each location visited.

Will I be subject to Medical Examination?

You may be subjected to medical examination including providing information and undergoing such testing, as may be reasonably necessary, to diagnose or confirm the presence, absence, or extent of infection with COVID-19.

Who will perform Medical Tests on me?

All Medical examination and other testing must be performed by authorized, licensed healthcare staff who will explain the process and ask for your prior informed consent to the examination and any procedures.

The healthcare staff will also be responsible for your medical care. CDC will discuss with healthcare staff your diagnosis and management, and ways to prevent spread of the disease.

Can I refuse medical treatment or tests?

CDC expects that while you are in quarantine, you must cooperate with the instructions of healthcare staff and other authorized personnel. However, at no time can CDC or any federal government agency violate the integrity of your body without your prior informed consent. Refusal to provide consent to medical tests, however, may be used as a basis to prolong your stay in quarantine.

How long can the CDC hold me in quarantine?

CDC or its cooperating partners at HHS or state and local public health will monitor your health condition so that the time you remain under federal quarantine will not last longer than is needed to prevent the spread of the quarantinable communicable disease to others. You must cooperate with the instructions of healthcare staff and other authorized personnel during the time you are in quarantine.

CDC may not keep you indefinitely. As of March, 12, 2020, expected quarantine period for COVIT-19 infected patients is at least 14 days. If you think you are kept in quarantine without symptoms for more than 14 days, or without symptoms and other risk of infection for any length of time, you may contact an attorney to investigate the issue.

Could I be deported (for COVID-19) if I am a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

No. As a U.S. citizen or legal resident, you may be quarantined, but not deported.

Can I challenge CDC’s quarantine decision?

Yes. After 72 hours from quarantine, if CDC continues to hold you in quarantine, you may request a Medical Review before a medical reviewer (at CDC) to challenge CDC’s decision to quarantine. You may further appeal the CDC decision to a federal court.

Will CDC provide translation and interpretation services?

Yes. If you do not understand the information CDC is asking you, request a translator and ask that the documents are translated to Persian.

Can the officers ask questions related to non-Coronavirus illness and prior health conditions?

CDC jurisdiction is limited to the Covid-19 at this time. They may ask you about your pre-existing conditions such as Cancer, heart disease, diabetes to determine whether you are at a higher risk of becoming very sick. However, CDC officials should not ask about unrelated medical conditions.

Can I call a lawyer if I am detained without any explanation?

Yes. You may request to speak to an attorney. You may contact IABA for assistance by emailing us at ​dc@iaba.us.​

Protecting Yourself While Traveling

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel. If you must travel, the CDC recommends:

  • Avoiding contact with sick people.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds orusing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, and other hygiene products may be limited, so consider bringing them with you.
  • Avoid traveling if you are sick.
    If you spent time in Iran during the past 14 days:
  • Stay home for 14 days from the time you left Iran and practice social distancing.
  • If you get sick with fever, cough, or have trouble breathing seek medical care and callahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughingor sneezing.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds orusing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Appendix 1:

Sec​. ​2.​ ​Scope of Suspension and Limitation on Entry.​

(a) Section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:

(i) any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

(ii) any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;

(iii) any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;

(iv) any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;

(v) any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

(vi) any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;

(vii) any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crew member or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;

(viii) any alien

(A) seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas:
A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1,

G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or

(B) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;

(ix) any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;

(x) any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

(xi) any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or

(xii) members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.