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US to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists Monday

For the first time in 18 months, fully vaccinated travelers from more than 2 dozen countries, including Mexico and Canada, will be able to enter the U.S.

HOUSTON — In the latest sign life is racing back to normal, the United States is opening its borders to international visitors for the first time in 18 months.

"Many have families that have been separated for 18 months without being together, or seeing each other," said immigration attorney Silvia Mintz. 

On November 8, U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada will open up for non-essential travel again. It's the first time since March 2020. 

"A lot of people are interested in making sure they know the requirements and they comply with every requirement so they can get into the U.S.," said Mintz. 

The requirements are slightly different based on how you're getting to the U.S. If traveling by air, you need a passport, proof you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a negative COVID-19 test. But if you're coming in from Mexico or Canada by land, you'll just need a passport and proof of vaccination. 

Ports of entry will be the busiest they've been in more than a year. 

"There is an expectation of long lines at the borders," said Mintz. 

For the first time in a year and a half, Houston will be able to welcome the world again. But it's those international tourists from Mexico that officials say really provide an economic bounce just in time for the holidays. 

"Mexico is such an important market for Houston," said Holly Clapham, Chief Marketing Officer at Houston First

In 2019, 2.4 million Mexican tourists visited Houston. 

"They're coming here to dine, to shop and experience the cultural riches of Houston and our wonderful fusion," said Clapham. 

That translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact. With the border closed, it fizzled in 2020. 

"I fully expect to see visitation increase immediately from Mexico," said Clapham. 

But now a chance to make up for lost time and money. 

"We're looking for that economic boom to add to our already recovering economy this quarter," said Clapham.

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