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US Travel Ban to be lifted from Nov 8th – Vaccination Must. News Updates, India Situation

As many of you know, since the start of the COVID pandemic there were few travel bans put up by the US. The most recent one was by Biden on April 30th, 2021 that banned Travelers from India due to a surge in COVID cases in India. Though the situation across the world has got better, the US has kept the travel ban in place for 33 countries that include EU Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, China, Iran, and Brazil.

White House and US Dept of State announced plans for a new policy that will lift the travel ban starting from November 8th, 2021. In this article, we will summarize the news so far since the announcement and share the latest status. We will continue to update this article with the latest news

US Travel Ban to be lifted from November 8th, 2021 – News Summary

Below is the summary of the announcement made by the White House related to lifting the travel ban for foreign nationals.

Travel Bans to be lifted, Vaccination Requirements to be added

Starting from November 8th, 2021, the travel ban will not be applicable to foreigners entering the US, who are fully vaccinated. The existing negative COVID test requirements will continue to be in place for international travelers to the US. Travelers need to submit proof of vaccination and negative COVID test results in order to enter the US at the port of entry. The proof of vaccination and negative COVID test that was taken within 3 days from the travel date has to be shown before boarding the flight to the US.

Check Official US Dept of State Press Release on the lifting of Travel Ban

US Dept of State Guidance on Lifting Travel Ban
US Dept of State Guidance on Lifting Travel Ban

List of Vaccines Accepted for Travel to US

US Dept of State confirmed that they would accept US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approved vaccines or list of vaccines that are approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization(WHO). They say that Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) would give more guidance on the list of vaccines. check the above screenshot of the press release by Dept of State.

As per CDC, below are the list of approved vaccines and you have to meet the 2 weeks timeline as well after getting the second shot to be considered fully vaccinated :

For Latest info, check the article on List of COVID Vaccines Accepted by US for Travel

One of the potential issues with the above approach is that many who were vaccinated with other vaccines like Covax or others will not be eligible. We need to wait and see the final policy document on what comes out.

CDC Guidance on Vaccination Requirements
CDC Guidance on Vaccination Requirements
Vaccinations list by CDC on Fully Vaccinated
Vaccinations list by CDC on Fully Vaccinated

CDC would require Airlines to collect contact Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) would require the Airlines operating flights to the US to collect the contact information that includes phone numbers and email addresses of all individuals traveling to the US. This data would primarily be used for help with contact tracing.

US Land Border Policies

On October 12th, 2021, DHS secretary said that they will start to allow travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully Vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel by Land for non-essential purposes. This is also planned to be effective from early November 2021. This is a really big thing as US has finally taken the measure to end 19 months of travel restrictions on land with Mexico and Canada.

Travel Ban based on Vaccination of Individual, not Country-based

The new rules that will allow travelers to enter the US are going to be based on Individuals and their vaccination status, including test statuses. This is a much stronger approach as it is based on individuals entering rather than their country of origin. Also, this is a good move as it will help many avoid spending 14 days in other countries that are not on the travel ban countries list.

No Quarantine, testing requirements for Fully Vaccniated,

If you are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test, you do not have any quarantine requirements. There would be additional testing requirements, including quarantine for anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including American citizens and Green Card holders. They have not released full details on these requirements yet.

What does US Lifting Travel Ban mean for Travelers ?

As of today, if you need to travel to the US from any of these 33 countries in the travel ban list, you need a National Interest Exception(NIE) from US Consulate or Embassy. After the new policy goes into effect from November 8th, 2021, individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need the NIE approval from the consulates. Below are more details.

  • No need to email Consulates for NIE : If the travelers have a valid visa and meet the two requirements of fully vaccinated and negative COVID test, they will be allowed to board the plane. There is no need to email the consulates for approval. This applies to Visa Waiver Program travelers with ESTA approval as well.
  • US Visa Stamping NIE Requirements : Today, if you applying for US Visa stamping for in-perosn interview or going for visa renewal like H1B Dropbox Stamping you need to show that you are part of the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors in US and qualify for NIE to get Visa. Applicants need to submit NIE Letters from employers to prove that they are part of vital support. If not, they would be given 221g based on not meeting NIE requriements. Starting from November 8th, all of these NIE letters or proofs may not be needed, if you meet the vaccine requirements and negative COVID test. We are yet to get official press release from US Dept of State on this. So, stay tuned.
  • Visitors – B1/ B2 Travel : Currently, most of the visitors from the 33 travel ban countries, unless they qualify for Emergency Visa Appointment , are not allowed to enter the US or even get Visa stamping. Many families members, including parents applying for Visitors (B2 Visa) are not able to get stamping or travel to US with the travel ban. Starting from November, this will change and all of these individuals would be able to get stamping done and travel to the US. But, the US Visa appointments wait times are already crazy, it will be even harder to get slots as more will be looking for slots. We need to wait and see how consulates handle this.

US Travel Ban to be Lifted for India

Many may wonder if the US travel ban would be lifted for India as well or not. As per the announcement from the White House, the travel ban would be lifted for India as well. The whole approach of going the vaccination route is to eliminate the country-specific requirements and introduce individual-specific requirements for entry based on vaccination status.

There is no official update on the US Embassy or US Consulates on how lifting the travel ban would impact the US Visa appointments in India. As of now, there are very limited slots available for stamping and only interview waiver applicants with NIE are allowed to get stamping. No B1/B2 visitors are allowed to get stamping. All the consulates are operating in a limited fashion. You can check US Visa Stamping in India News Updates for the latest info and updates.

Next Steps – Exact List of Exceptions

We have the official date of Travel Ban lifting and some details on the accepted vaccines. But, we do not have the full official list on the exceptions on how they would treat travelers. CDC has given some guidance as mentioned above.

More details on the exceptions, other policy documents would be released by US Dept of State and CDC. We will keep you posted in this article.

Latest News Updates on Lifting Travel ban to US

Below are the list of news updates on Travel Ban with links to official and news sources for further reading and review

  • October 15th, 2021 : Whitehouse annouced that they would lift the US Travel Ban starting from November 8th, 2021. Also, US Dept of State made official press release on the same. Still policy documents are not yet fully released on the exceptions. CDC has given some guidance. Check US Dept of State Press Release and BBC News , WSJ News , Reuters News
  • October 12th, 2021 : US announced that they will allow Mexico and Canada Travelers, who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, to travel to US by land starting from early November. It was announced by DHS in a press release. Check Reuters News , NY Times News , Reuters News
  • Sep 20th, 2021 : White House announces in virtual press release the upcoming plans on lifting travel ban. Check more details at NPR.org , Associated Press News, Washington Post , CNBC News

Common FAQs

What are the COVID Vaccines Accepted in the US for Travel?

The US Dept of State confirmed that they would refer to CDC Guidance for list of vaccines. Based on CDC guidance, they would accept FDA approved vaccines or WHO approved emergency use vaccines list. For more, check List of Vaccines Accepted in US for Travel

When will the US travel ban be lifted? What date ?

The US Travel ban would be lifted on November 8th, 2021. This date was announced on Oct 15th, by the White House officials and confirmed by US Dept of State.

What COVID Vaccines in India would be accepted to travel to US ?

As per CDC, they would accept WHO Approved vaccines. In India, the widely used WHO approved vaccine that is based on AstraZeneca/Oxford is Covishied vaccine. Covax does not have the WHO approval yet and is in th process.

When will the India Travel ban be lifted to travel to US ?

The India Travel Ban to travel to US will be lifted on November 8th, 2021. This is going to be general date for everyone and not tied to specific country.

Does lifting of Travel Ban from Nov 2021 apply to H1B & H4 visa holders?

Yes, it is applicable to all visa types and does not have any restrictions. You need to meet the basic requirements of Vaccination and negative covid test to travel to the US.

What are your thoughts on lifting the travel ban announcement by the US? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

   

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43 Comments

  1. I am currently in India but have completed both of vaccines in US before I travelled. Is the white house notification sufficient to come back to the US or would they have to sign some kind of executive order or pass some kind of rule for it become a rule?

    Reply
    • achilleus,
      It is official now and US dept of state confirmed. Nothing else needed. There will be more guidance closer to the re-opening date.

      Reply
  2. hi Kumar, First of all big thanks for this article, as per this visa stamping doesn’t need NIE any more for the vaccinated but looks like there is no word on this ! and looks to me only the people with stamped visa + vaccinated can travel ,does it means visa stamping still need NIE?

    Reply
  3. Hi Admin,

    Thank you for posting this detailed article.

    Can you please throw some light on what will happen to unjabbed H1b and H4 visa holders after Nov 8. Suppose if the couple is in Canada, will they still be able to cross the border by land/plane after Nov 8 if they are unjabbed or would they need to get NIE along with the Visa?

    In one of the media report (link below), it was mentioned that essential travellers will be exempted from this requirements for now (Untill Jan 2022). So, will H1b and H4 visa holders be considered in the exempt category by default or would an NIE be required?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXLzU90XQyQ&t=71s&ab_channel=GlobalNews

    Thank you for all the great work that you do.

    Reply
    • Mohit,
      As of now, it is likely that they will be exempted as the vaccination is not yet approved. We are waiting for official update from CDC on this.

      Reply
  4. For someone who was picked in Lottery this year and have approved petition, what steps can be taken now, so that when consulates open, one can grab the appointment. Hoping to get H1B visa stamped and H4 for spouse at the earliest.
    Any guidance here would be appreciated.

    Reply
  5. What if I have a 221(g) white slip stating I fall under PP10199 and Consulate will/or I should contact after the ban lifts.

    After the ban lifts (and hopefully the PP 10199) Should I book another MRV appointment for the same visa #? Because dealing with support india email to reconsider my application again might have significant hurdles I can sense. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the detailed article. As of now we dont have official dates yet for this ban lift. My family is planning to visit India for a month from last week of Nov (h1, h4 and citizen kid). We have advance parole but preferred to keep H1 active and wanted to get H1, H4 visa stamped. I am eligible for dropbox, could you please let me know what is the process to get visa stamped (any guess on stamping timelines? will I get stamped passport in 3 weeks once applied for stamping using dropbox), understand that the NIE approval may not be needed by then, any other documents we need for dropbox ?

    Reply
  7. Hi Kumar,
    I had my H1 regular appointments scheduled on november 26th, but they are cancelled by consulate.
    Please let me know if you are aware of the reason.

    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Hi Kumar,

    In the article it is mentioned “Dropbox Stamping Slots : US consulates all across the US are givng Interview waiver or Dropbox slots for H4, H1B and other visa renewals.”…. My question is how come all US consulate in US are giving Dropbox slots? Don’t we need to leave US for Dropbox stamping?

    Reply
  9. Hi Kumar,

    I just got email form Embassy saying “Cancellation of appointment scheduled at Chennai Consulate for November 2021”, so my appointment on 25th November got cancelled now.

    If they are going to lift BAN, then why they are cancelling the appointments?

    Reply
    • I received the same email from the Chennai consulate. I had my appointments scheduled for Nov 2nd and 3rd, but both are cancelled now with no more appointments to book. Really in the dark about the appointments now.

      Reply
      • Same here, I had my appointment on Nov 19th which was booked 5 months ago, and got a cancellation email today, already tried Emergency Appointment a few times earlier and received a denial.
        Looking for some guidance on the what will be next steps !

        Reply
  10. I want to bring my parents from India (First Time- No Visa Stamp), but not getting appointments for VISA interview, even if we paid visa fee last year, Sep 2020. so need to know when the consulate will reopen the windows and do we have to pay again the visa fee.

    Reply
  11. My son (Indian) on H1B visa and working in USA, is getting married to an American girl in Dec, 2021. My wife and myself have a valid tourist visa to USA, can we travel to US in Dec to attend his wedding.

    Reply
  12. My son (Indian) is getting married to an American girl in Dec, 2021. My wife and myself have a valid tourist visa to USA, can we travel to US in Dec to attend his wedding.

    Reply
  13. My spouse is planning to travel to Turkey for 7 days starting next week and she will be back by 4-OCT-2021. She has a valid H4 Visa till the end of this year and she is also fully vaccinated.

    Will there be any problem for her while re-entryUSA? Considering she will stay in Turkey for only 7 Days.

    Reply
    • PK,
      The new rules in above article are not effective yet. Check with Turkey’s US Embassy for any specific information on this. I am not following it closely. Write to them or call them to get clarity.

      Reply
  14. Please let us know can i go for a drop box appointment – can i ask my company can start scheudling the drop box appointment

    Reply
    • umamaheswaran, You can plan for it for next month. But, you need NIE as of today. This will change once they announce more details. Stay tuned for new guidance.

      Reply
    • DS,
      Once they give official guidance, then you can contact the consulates to process the same. Again, many of these are also tied to limited capacity. Need to wait for few more days or weeks to get full clarity.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply Kumar!
        Can you please help me in understanding the process after lifting the ban…would it be as simple as submitting the documents and passports at nearest VAC and we get them stamped in a week…or can we expect any hurdles or surprises here like again requesting for any documents?( we were told during interview just to drop passports post ban removal)?!….

        Reply

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