As the COVID situation in India is getting worse with surge in coronavirus cases, President Biden has signed an executive order yesterday, 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.
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.
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
- 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
- US Embassy New Delhi: [email protected]
- US Consulate Chennai: [email protected]
- US Consulate Hyderabad: [email protected]
- US Consulate Kolkata: [email protected]
- US Consulate Mumbai: [email protected]
- If you want to call them, check more contact details at : US Consulates India Contact info – Email, Phone Numbers.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
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.
Yes, you must contact the US Consulate or embassy that gave you visa and get their approval before you travel.
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.
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