Home » US Immigration - Visas » US Bans Travelers from India – H1B, L1, Others. Exceptions List, Latest News

US Bans Travelers from India – H1B, L1, Others. Exceptions List, Latest News

As the COVID situation in India is getting worse with surge in coronavirus cases, President Biden has signed an executive order on Apr 30th, 2021, that will restrict entry of travelers from India. In this article, we will review the US travel ban on India travelers, which US visas it applies to, who are exempt, when does it start, when does it end, other info. We will continue to update this article as we have latest updates.

Summary of Proclamation : US Bans Travelers from India

President Biden signed a proclamation on April 30th, that bans entry of travelers from India. Below is the summary of the proclamation and guidance given by US Department of State based on the proclamation.

Why US Travel Ban for Travelers from India ?  Reason?

As per the proclamation signed by President Biden, the decision to ban travelers from India is based on recommendation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) based on the critical situation in India with the surge in cases due to COVID-19. They say there is a new variant in India called B.1.617, including the other variants from UK and South Africa present in India. As per CDC they are more easily transmittable and as a proactive measure they are restricting and suspending travelers from India to United states.

Who all from India does the US Travel Ban Apply to ?

The travel ban applies to the below list of individuals from India

Physically Present in India for 14 days before Travel

The travel ban applies to all non-us citizens who were physically present in India during the 14 days before their entry to US or their attempted entry to US, unless they fall under certain exceptions as listed by US Dept of State or they fall under national interest exception waiver.  Below is the screenshot from the proclamation.

14 days stay in India - Travel Ban to US
14 days stay in India – Travel Ban to US

List of Non-US Citizens from India who are subject to Travel Ban to US

Below is the list of US non-immigrant visa holders who are banned unless they fall under national interest exceptions or other exceptions as given by department of state.

  • H1B Visa holders & their dependent on H4 Visa
  • L1A, L1B visa holder and their dependents on L2 visa
  • B1/ B2, B2 Visa Travelers, including parents traveling on B2 visas
  • F1, J1, M1 Visa holders, unless their program starts on August 1st or later.
  • All other non-immigrant visa holders, who travel to India to US.  

List of Travelers from India to US, who fall under Exceptions

Below is the list of travellers from India, who are exempted from the proclamation and can travel to US.

Exceptions based on President Proclamation

  • US Citizens
  • US Green Card Holders
  • Immigrant Visa holders with valid Immigrant Visa (seeking Green card from outside US)
  • Spouse of US Citizen
  • Parents or legal guardians of US Citizen or Green Card holder who are under 21 years of age
  • Siblings of US Citizens or green card holders who are unmarried and under 21 years of age
  • Foreign diplomats traveling to US on A, G visas. E-1, NATO -1 through NATO-4, NATO-6 Visas
  • Air and Sea Crew traveling on C, D, C1/D visa

Exceptions based on National Interest(NIE) by US Dept of State

  • Fiancé(e)s on K-1 Visa
  • F1 and M1 Visa students with academic program starting on August 1st, 2021 or later.  They can enter US only 30 days before the start of the program. It includes continuing F1 and M1 Visa holders with program continuation starting on August 1st, 2021 or later.
  • Journalists
  • Anyone entering US to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors. They have not given explicit list. Very likely something related to Health care and others. You should check with consulate on this.
  • Pilots and aircrew members, others supporting aircraft maintenance, training, support entering on B1/B2, B1 and M1 Visas, including Visa Waiver programs
  • Someone traveling as an au pair (young foreign worker) to support minor US Citizens, Green Card holders, or nonimmigrants with special skills like medical, special education or sign language.  Similar other exchange visitors who provide child care services, medical research, others
  • Specialized Teachers with program under G-5, who are full time teachers.
  • Exchange visitors supporting critical foreign policy needs
  • Qualified travelers for purpose of humanitarian travel, public health response, national security.
  • Derivative family members, who are joining someone who have been granted National Interest Exception (NIE) or likely to get NIE exception or is not subject to NIE in general. Example : If H1B holder got NIE, then H4 holder can also get NIE as per this clause. This was added on May 12th, 2021.

Process before Travel, if you fall under National Interest Exception

If you are subject to proclamation, but fall under the exceptions listed above under National Interest Exception(NIE), you need to follow the below process. You need to have definitive plans for travel. This is as per official guidance given by US Embassy on their website

  1. Email US Consulate/ Embassy with Details : You need to email Consulate that issued your Non-immigrant visa with the below details. It should be in English only.
    • Last name : Your family or last name
    • First name: Your first name
    • Date of birth: Your date of Birth
    • Place of birth: Your place of birth as in Passport
    • Country of citizenship: Your country of citizenship
    • Passport number: Your passport number
    • Visa Number* and Category: Your visa number and category of the visa. The Visa number is the Red Color number on the visa foil, it will appear at the lower right of the visa. Check US Visa Sample, meaning for more info
    • Travel dates: Your planned and confirmed travel dates with itinerary
    • Travel Purpose and National Interest Category that you fall under with clear justification of the same : You need to provide details about the NIE Category that you fall under and give details on why you are qualified under NIE and the need for your travel.
    • Send the above to the below email addresses
  2. US Consulate / Embassy Review – 2 weeks : The US Consulate/ Embassy will review your request carefully and give you a decision in two weeks. They say they cannot guarantee the decision in two weeks, but will try.
  3. Travel to US within 30 days : if you get approval from the Consulate, they will inform you on the same and you need to travel within 30 days. The NIE is valid for single entry and within 30 days of the approval from Consulate or Embassy.

The above process is mandatory to follow, if you do not fall under exceptions in proclamation but fall under NIE. If you fail to follow the above, you may or may not be allowed at the airport during boarding or at may face issues with CBP officer during US Port of Entry Process. Read FAQs and Official Guidance by US Embassy India

We have many users who got NIE approval before travel and were able to travel to US. Read article : 15 NIE Approval Experiences India – Letter, Travel

When does the Travel Ban start for Travelers from India ?

The travel ban starts from 12:01 EST on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021. It does not apply to anyone who have boarded flight to US before 12:01 EST, May 4th, 2021 and arrives in US after 12:01 EST on May 4th, 2021.  See below screenshot from proclamation

Effective Date Travel Ban for Indian Travelers
Effective Date Travel Ban for Indian Travelers

How long is the Travel Ban applicable to Travelers from India ?

There is no end date specified that tells the duration of the travel ban. All it says is until the president cancels it. It says that US Secretary of Health and Human Services has to review the situation and report in no more than 30 days. Also, they have to report to President by the end of each month, if the Travel Ban has to continued or terminate. See below screenshot from proclamation.

Termination of Travel ban for travelers from india
Termination of Travel ban for travelers from india

Latest News on US Travel Ban for Indian Travelers

  • May 12th, 2021 : US Department of State added additional clarification to the press release sharing that dependents are eligible for NIE, if the primary visa holder get NIE. See below clause added. What it means is that, for instance, if H1B holders get NIE, then H4 holder also can get NIE. See below on what was added.
Derivative Family members - NIE Clause
Derivative Family members – NIE Clause

Common FAQs

What is difference between Exceptions in Proclamation vs National Interest Exception(NIE) ?

For exceptions in Proclamation like US Citizens, Green Card Holders, Spouse, etc. they by default do not fall under proclamation and do not need to seek any approval or anything from anyone. Unlike, if you fall under National Interest Exception (NIE), then you are technically banned under proclamation, but US State Department has determined that your entry is important for US under their National Interest, so you can travel under the National Interest Exception (NIE). This is why you need to get permission from US Consulate.

I fall under NIE for Travel to US from India, is it mandatory to get Consulate approval ?

Yes, you must contact the US Consulate or embassy that gave you visa and get their approval before you travel.

Within how many days do I have to travel to US, if get NIE approval from Consulate ?

You have 30 days to travel from the day of approval from Consulate regarding your NIE request . You will get one time entry under this NIE option.

I am F1 student with Summer Term admission, can I travel ?

As per the US Embassy in India, they cannot facilitate travel for anyone whose program starts before August 1st, 2021. So, you may need to talk to the School and get some options to defer your admission.

I have valid H1B Visa and stuck in India, does the Travel Ban to US apply to me ?

Yes, it applies to you. You can only travel, if you fall under the NIE as per the support of the Critical infrastructure sectors. You need to submit proof to consulate or embassy and get approval before your travel.

I have Urgent Travel need to US from India, what are my options ?

You need to apply Emergency Appointment, that is the only option. Check Guide to US Emergency US Visa Appointment Request India

What do you think of the Travel ban ? What is your experience ? Share in comments below.   

References : US Dept of State Official Guidance on Travel Ban

   

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378 Comments

  1. Hi Kumar,

    My wife travelled to India in December last year for death in family and have to stay back till now. I am in US on H1-B. My wife already has a stamped H-4 visa. Can she apply for NIE for travel citing family separation?

    Thanks,
    Vishal

    Reply
  2. Hi,

    I’have tried to post my message..I am not sure if its already posted so I am posting it again.
    I have a two kids with one of them is a US born citizen, I am currently on H1 and Spouse and the other child(Indian born) has valid H4 visas. I know we have travel ban exception for parents of US born citizen may be allowed to travel. My question is as in my case, I have an other child with Indian citizenship…can all four of us travel together? has anyone is with similar situation and are able to travel? What kind of documents required???
    Appreciate your help…

    Thanks…

    Reply
    • Yes all 4 can travel together, according to the exceptions listed above – Siblings of US citizens or permanent residents, provided they are unmarried and under 21.

      Be sure to take both children’s original birth certificates (one issued in US for the US born child and one issued in India for the India born child) – proof that the children are siblings and your children.

      Reply
    • Your’s Indian citizen kid falls under following exception category so you are good to go.

      Siblings of US Citizens or green card holders who are unmarried and under 21 years of age

      Proof – carry Birth certificate besides passport also for Indian born kid which confirms his/her relationship with Parents/Guardians

      Reply
    • Pandey , I heard few people travelled using AP without NIE and I talk to them also I talk to United Airlines and they said that you can travel if you have AP without NIE.

      Reply
  3. I have a H1B visa stamping till 31st Oct 2021 and I am yet to travel to US. Before the ban, I just booked my travel but need to cancel due to the ban.
    My employer falls under Information Technology and my client in US is from manufacturing unit.

    Am I eligible to apply under NIE to travel for the first time to US?

    Reply
    • Make you you are not having your kid on the plane. there is no medical support available on a flight if you are having a US citizen kid on the plane. Your wife should not be flying and how is your kid a US citizen if are still having your kid ? If you wife is having your kid in the flight then he is not necessarily a US citizen. For how long have you been having the kid ? i heard labor doesn’t last for more than couple hours.

      Reply
    • You cannot apply for NIE from USA. How difficult is that to understand. USCIS has mentioned it very clearly..

      Reply
  4. I am on F1 visa, and my CPT co-op program is starting August 2nd. Since my start date is after August 1, can I travel 30 days before i.e after July 3rd?

    Reply
    • If you are still taking classes as a student in fall, then yes, you can leave on July 3rd or later. However if you are not taking classes, but only doing CPT, then you can only leave on Aug 1 or later

      Reply
      • He can leave, most co-op are counted as credit towards your degree. Stop poking your nose everywhere with wrong information. You have guided a bunch of people and some of that information is incorrect.

        Reply
  5. My visa is stuck in 221(g) because of TAL and I already submitted all the documents in March 2021. My work qualifies under NIE, is there any way to have the consulate start processing the 221(g) and get the visa with NIE?

    Reply
  6. Hi Kumar,

    Acc. to the above information, US Secretary of Health and Human Services has to review the situation and report in no more than 30 days.

    Today is June 8th, we haven’t got any official news on whether they are extending it till a particular date or month else if going to terminate on so and so date., what are your thoughts ? Is it going to be terminated ? as lot of people stuck in India and facing issues.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • They have to report it to white house, not the general public. It must have been reviewed and extended. Just like travel ban for other countries they won’t inform you about extension on a monthly basis. They will inform us about suspension of ban.

      Reply
    • If the Secretary of HHS does not do anything, the ban continues automatically, he does not necessarily have to recommend continuing the ban. For the ban to be lifted, the Secretary has to justify lifting the ban and the President has to agree.

      Reply
    • Ravi,
      Yes, absolutely. if you have visa, you can travel, no need of NIE. You need to carry their birth certificate copies that show your relationship. If you don’t have visa, you need to apply for EA based on your kids needs to go back to US for school, vaccine, etc. That way you get stamping and then can travel.

      Reply
  7. I am having B1/B2 visa and my parents have green card. Since pandemic we have not met so I want to make a visit to them. Can I travel to Usa once ban is lifted? or I can travel through via any other country like Mexico? I am based in India.

    Reply
    • Jaymin,
      Yes, you can once the ban is lifted. Well, some have tried the option of going to other country…you may try that…but too many uncertainties, so it is your discretion

      Reply
  8. Actually I have applied for US visa and my visa date is on Aug 24, so if dropbox opens before this date can I reschedule my interview with Dropbox option? Or should I compulsory attend in person even after rescheduling.

    Reply
    • you have to attend your interview. Even if you go with dropbox option they will most definitely issue 221g to appear for an in person interview.

      Reply
  9. Hi
    I have a valid F1 Visa. I traveled to India to attend my moms funeral on May 26. My wife and kids are in the US. Will I need NIE to travel back to US?

    Deepak

    Reply
    • If you are continuing education in US for the fall semester, you can go back up to 30 days prior to the start of fall semester starting in August 1 or later. Which means if your fall semester starts August 1 (or later), the earliest you can leave is July 2 (or later); Or if one of your kid is a US citizen, then you can come back anytime.

      For an earlier departure to attend summer semester, you will have to request a separate NIE.

      Reply
  10. Hello –
    Myself and my family is India , and I am a Parent of US citizen .
    Here is our situation:
    My visa(H1b) stamped but my wife and elder daughter got 221g .
    Younger daughter is US citizen.

    Can I travel alone to USA as I can not accompany with my family because their visas are pending / travel with 3 years old daughter (difficult to manage without mother) ?

    Reply
  11. I have valid H1B and will be re-uniting with my family consist of US citizen kids in US. Can I return to US by showing the proof that I am parent of US citizen. They don’t travel with me though. Thanks.

    Reply
    • There is no set time frame. It could be 3 to 6 months or longer. For example, UK and EU countries were restricted in March 2020 and the ban is still in effect.

      While the bans to UK and EU are now becoming political, the bans on S Africa and Brazil are in effect since January 2021 and havent seen any indication when they will be lifted.

      Reply
  12. Are F1 students on OPT are automatically considered for NIE if they are travelling to US on or after July 2?

    Reply
      • The guidelines says that for OPT students, NIE will be applied automatically if the program starts/continues after August 1, and they can enter 30 days prior to that which is July 2. So I want to confirm if I can enter after July 2 or not?

        Reply
        • For students on F1 OPT, they can only arrive in US August 1 or later.

          If they are also enrolled in an academic program, then they can arrive up to 30 days prior to the start of the academic program, but not earlier than July 2. Check the latest updates to be sure.

          Reply
  13. Hello,
    I am confused about the NIE for continuing F1 status. I am on F1 status but I don’t have a valid F1 visa stamped on my passport. I plan to graduate end of the coming fall semester. Can I travel back to the USA with the above-mentioned NIE and when? Thanks in advance!
    Thanks

    Reply
    • You need to get F1 visa stamped first. Then you can go to US to continue your studies. However with most US consulates and embassy closed in India, it is difficult to predict when you can get the stamping.

      Reply
      • Stop putting out wrong information dude. Consulates are open for F1 visa interviews. No emergency appointment required. Don’t listen to this sevan guy, his information is wrong most of the time. Please see updates issued by US consulate on twitter. They are opn for regular operations for F1 visa.

        Reply
  14. Hi,

    I am a US Citizen and applying for my mother who is alone in India for a NIE. she visits me twice a year and also she is getting medical treatment here for her spine after a traumatic injury. I have all the doctors note and she has an upcoming injection for spine so I’m trying to get her here under NIE. My question is her US visa was approved and stamped at Canada Toronto consulate, do I send them the information or us consulate in India? Please help!

    Reply
    • There is no specific NIE for medical treatment. You can always try. NIE waiver should be sent to India as she is in India now. However unless her presence benefits critical sectors in US, the application may not be approved.

      Reply
      • Why are you spreading false information. H1b filing is not impacted in any way. your company will file your petition after selection in lottery. The only thing that is affected is stamping but you can always file under change of status so you don’t have to get stamping right away. With change of status you can start working on h1b status without stamp.

        This sevan dude is high on some shit.

        Reply
    • They have not been lifted, unless the Secretary of HHS recommends lifting the ban and the President agrees to lift the ban. The ban continues automatically otherwise.

      Reply
  15. Hello,

    Are you allowed to call Indian parent to US if they are fully vaccinated under NIE due to health issues of person in USA?
    (Not minor) but need one of them here

    Reply
  16. I lost a family member in India, I am currently in US and wants to travel back to India. I am currently on H1b and fully vaccinated with Pfizer.. Do you know if I will be allowed entry to US again in June.

    Reply
    • Shubham,
      Sorry to hear about your loss. It is hard to say. If you fall under NIE, you can go back. Otherwise, it is difficult to predict now.

      Reply
  17. Hello,

    I have quick question currently my wife is on F-2 and she would like to travel back to USA.
    Iam currently in usa.

    Is there any restrictions for her?

    Your suggestion will be appreciated

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Vineeth,
      Yes, restriction applies to everyone, unless they are exempt. F2 is not exempt, so it applies and she cannot travel without having NIE.

      Reply

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