As the COVID situation in India was very bad back in April 2021, President Biden signed an executive order on Apr 30th, 2021, that restricted travelers from India to enter US. In this article, we cover all the details of the US travel ban on Indian travelers, which US visas it applies to, who are exempt, when does it start, when does it end, other info. Also, we update this article as and when new updates happen on the travel ban.
Summary of Proclamation : US Bans Travelers from India
President Biden signed a proclamation on April 30th, that banned the 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 recommendations 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.
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.
- 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 the 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
Step 1 : Email US Consulate/ Embassy with Details : You need to email Consulate that issued your Non-immigrant visa with the below details in tabular format. The below table should be in the email body with supporting information. It should be in English only.
|Last name:||Your Family Name or Last Name as it appears on passport|
|First name:||Your First Name as it appears on Passport|
|Date of birth:||Your Date of Birth as it appears on Passport|
|Place of birth:||Your Place of Birth as it appears on Passport|
|Gender on passport:||Your Gender as it appears on passport|
|Country of citizenship:||Your Country of citizenship|
|Current passport number:||Your current (most recent) passport number that is valid|
|Passport number with issued visa:||Your Passport number with US Visa is Stamped on it. This could be the same as above or different if your passport expired before visa validity|
|Visa category (H1B, H4, B1/B2, L1, L2, etc.):||US Nonimmigrant Visa category that you plan to enter the US|
|Visa expiration date:||Your US Visa expiration date. Check US Visa Sample, meaning for more info|
|Consulate/Embassy that issued the visa:||The name of the consulate that issued your US Visa|
|Current location, city, and country:||Your current Location, City and Country. This would be your current city and location where you are based in India|
|Have you applied for an NIE since May 1, 2021? (yes or no):||If you have applied for an NIE before, you need to indicate here as ‘Yes’. If not, you can say ‘No’.|
|Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of an NIE: (for H1, L1, and O1 visa holders, please be sure to include your job title, employer, and end client, where applicable)||You need to clearly articulate your purpose of travel with your job duties, employer info and why you should be given NIE. You should attach NIE Supporting letter from the employer/client to have a better chance for approval.|
Send the above template completed to the below email addresses
- US Embassy New Delhi: NewDelhiNIE@state.gov
- US Consulate Chennai: ChennaiNIE@state.gov
- US Consulate Hyderabad: HyderabadNIE@state.gov
- US Consulate Kolkata: KolkataNIE@state.gov
- US Consulate Mumbai: MumbaiNIE@state.gov
- If you want to call them, check more contact details at : US Consulates India Contact info – Email, Phone Numbers.
Step 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. Some users got it 2 weeks, some had to wait for 6 weeks as well to get an update. So, you need to be prepared for delays.
Step 3 : Travel to US within 12 months : If you get approval from the Consulate, they will inform you on the same via email and it would say the validity of the NIE indicating that it would be for 12 months with multiple entry option from the date it was approved by Consulate or Embassy. This used to be 30 days with single entry in the past and changed from July 6th, 2021. Below is an example of the same from a real user experince
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 started 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
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 terminated. See below screenshot from the proclamation.
Latest News on US Travel Ban for Indian Travelers
- September 2021 : As of Sep 2021, there is no indication from US that they will lift the travel ban. The cases in US are increasing and they may or may not lift in the near term.
- Jul 26th, 2021 : The cases in US are rising citing the delta variant. Based on this WhiteHouse said that they do not plan to lift the Travel Ban in the short term. So, we may see the travel ban to be there for some more time. Check Reuters Official News
- Jul 10th, 2021 : Reuters reports that Biden Administration may not immediately lift the travel ban soon. They had multiple discussions with many leaders of various countries and could not come to a quick conclusion. So, it may be the same case for India as well. Expect the travel ban to be there for some time.
- Jul 6th, 2021 : US Dept of State extended the NIE validity from 30 days to 12 months and also added multiple entry. All this tells us is that the travel ban may stay for a long time. You can check NIE rule 12 months for Travel Guidance for more info
- June 28th, 2021 : As of today, there is no change in the travel ban situation, even though the COVID situation in India has changed significantly since the announcement of travel ban. There are no exemptions added or given despite the changes in condition in India. If you need to travel to US, you need NIE given by the consulate for visa stamping and travel to US.
- 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.
No one exactly knows, when the travel ban will be lifted. As per the proclamation signed by Biden, the situation is reviewed every 30 days at the end of the month, if they wish to continue the proclamation or not. So far, there is no indication that they will lift the travel ban. The delta variant, which was first detected in India, is spread extensively in US and it may not help the lifting of travel ban. The travel ban may continue to say, unless otherwise they announce that they would cancel the proclamation. As per recent update from Whitehouse on July 8th, they say that this is here to stay for long. Check the news section in above article.
Yes, you must contact the US Consulate or embassy that gave you visa and get their approval before you travel.
You have 12 months from the date of approval of NIE to travel to US. You also get Multiple entry option to travel back and forth as needed. This used to be 30 days in the past, but from July 6th, 2021, this changed to 12 months with multiple entry option. The only catch is you need to use it for the same purpose that you originally requested the NIE for.
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. Read complete info at What is National Interest Exception Meaning – Differences, How to request
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.
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.
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