Covid Travel Ban: US Restricts Entry For Indians, US Citizens OK

Starting tomorrow, May 4, 2021 at 12:01 am ET, most travelers from India will be banned from entering the U.S. As a result of the massive surge in Covid cases coupled with the threat of multiple variants circulating in India, the CDC has issued a proclamation restricting entry of travelers from India, effective immediately. The restriction will be in effect until June 3, 2021 but can be extended if the situation in India is not brought under control quickly.

In order to protect the U.S.’ public health, CDC has suspended the entry of all non-citizens who were physically present in India during the 14‑day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, the proclamation stated.

This travel ban will not apply to U.S. citizens and green card holders, humanitarian workers and other travelers with exemptions. For all exceptions, please see below.

India is the latest addition to members of other countries banned from entering the U.S. Foreign nationals from Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the Schengen Area included. These regional COVID-19 entry bans do not have an expiration date and will remain in effect until President Joe Biden lifts or modifies them.

Mandatory Requirements For Travelers Entering The U.S.

All travelers entering the U.S. need to meet all U.S. requirements put in place for international travelers.

  • Eligible travelers from India have to test negative prior to boarding U.S. bound flights. This includes those who have received vaccinations.
  • This test should be taken no more than three days before arrival, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Those who have not been vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days.
  • Travelers are also required to take another test three to five days following their arrival in the U.S. and to self-quarantine in spite of a negative test result.

Exemptions In The India Travel Ban

While most foreign nationals originating travel from India are banned from entering the U.S., there are some exemptions given. This includes U.S. citizens, green card holders and their spouses as well as incoming freshman and continuing international students.

Besides this, certain journalists, academics, humanitarian workers and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in the U.S. may get an exemption from the Biden administration’s ban on travel from India. This, however will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

While foreign students who already have a valid F1 or M1 visa may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies which is potentially Aug 1, 2021. Those seeking a visa may face some delays since all U.S. consulates in India have temporarily suspended all consular services until May 16, 2021.

The State Department will grant National Interest Waivers for qualified travelers seeking to enter U.S. for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. This includes foreign students who have qualified for an F1 or M1 student visa.

Visa Appointments In U.S. Consulates Across India

Current Visa Appointment Wait Times At US Consulates In India

  • Emergency services for U.S. citizens continues to be available throughout this phase.
  • This travel ban will most impact holders of various work, student and visitor visas, such as H-1B, L1, F-1 and B1 and B2. As the U.S. consulates across India have suspended services until further notice, the further delays are inevitable. The availability of fligt tickets are limited too.

THIS Is What You Should Know About Easier H1-B Visa Extensions & Renewals

  • While all visa appointments, in-person and interview-waiver appointments are canceled, the Embassy and Consulates will honor scheduled emergency visa appointments.

India Travel: Which Airline Can You Board In & Out Of India?

New Flight Restrictions To India Announced

Flights Between India & U.S.

Currently United Airlines and Air India are the only two airlines offering flights between the U.S. and India. They have anywhere between three and six flights scheduled flights between the two countries each day.

All travelers will be refunded their tickets if they had previously booked flights but are now ineligible to enter the U.S.

Contact your airline agent to check on the status of your current bookings/cancellations/refunds.