On April 30, 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would ban travel to the U.S. for individuals who have been present in India within the past 14 days. The travel ban took effect on Tuesday, May 4. The ban is based on a recommendation from the CDC, and is a result of the dramatic increase in COVID cases in India.
There are a number of individuals who are exempt from the travel ban, consistent with similar travel bans from other regions. The following individuals are exempt from the travel ban:
- U.S. citizens;
- U.S. lawful permanent residents;
- Noncitizen nationals of the U.S.;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;
- A foreign national who is the parent or legal guardian of an unmarried U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 21;
- A foreign national who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided they are both unmarried and under the age of 21;
- A foreign national who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa;
- A foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus;
- A foreign air or sea crewmember;
- Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO), G, and NATO nonimmigrants, or nonimmigrants whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
- A foreign national whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
- A foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest, as described in our prior alert; and
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In addition, travelers to the U.S., including those from India, who remain eligible to apply for an NIE waiver include academics, students, journalists, humanitarian travelers, public health responders, and those travelers who will benefit national security. More specifically, the Department of State has provided the following exemptions for all COVID-related travel bans to the U.S.:
- F-1 and M-1 students with a valid visa who are entering the U.S. to begin or continue an academic program that starts on August 1, 2021 or later do not need to apply for a waiver and may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to their program start date;
- F-1 and M-1 students who are entering the U.S. to begin or continue an academic program that starts on August 1, 2021 or later and who need a visa will be automatically considered for a National Interest Exception;
- J-1 exchange visitors in a number of categories, as described in the Department of State’s update.
In related news, U.S. Consular Posts in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai have cancelled both in-person and interview waiver nonimmigrant visa appointments until further notice.
For any questions about the travel ban or possible waivers, please contact your Mintz immigration attorney.