President Biden signed a proclamation on April 30, 2021 that banned the entry of travelers from India. Even though the situation across the world has got better, the US has not lifted the travel ban for 33 countries that include EU Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, China, Iran, and Brazil.
What Was the Reason for This Ban?
The ban was based on the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) based on the critical situation in India with the surge in cases due to COVID-19.
The proclamation stated:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services, working in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, has determined that the Republic of India is experiencing widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19”. ——————————————-
“After reviewing the public health situation within the Republic of India, CDC has concluded that proactive measures are required to protect the Nation’s public health from travelers entering the United States from that jurisdiction.”
Details of that proclamation can be found here.
What is the Recent Update on Lifting of that Ban?
- On Sep 20th, 2021, the White House announced plans for a new policy that will lift the travel ban starting from early November 2021
- We will continue to update this article with the latest news
Few Concerns and Anticipations about the Details
- However, there is concern that there is still no precise date nor any details on how this might be allowed to happen
- What will the testing requirements be?
- How will the U.S. accept details of vaccination?
- There are suggestions that there would be a delay on the November date because the issue is reasonably complicated, as sign off needs to come from all the government areas involved–The White House, Department of Transport, State Department and National Institute of Health
- The U.S. has still to announce whether it will allow unvaccinated children to visit with vaccinated parents/guardians, or which vaccines it might accept
- It also needs to develop contact-tracing rules for incoming international passengers before scrapping the travel ban
Would CDC 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
Is There Any Officially Approved List of Vaccines Accepted for Travel to US?
- There is no official policy document released by the US regarding what vaccines
- It is mentioned by CDC and US Govt officials that they would likely accept the list of vaccines that are approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO)
The List of WHO-Approved Vaccines are Listed Below:
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
- Sinopharm BIBP
- The new rules that will allow travelers to enter the US will 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
- It will also exclude the need for spending 14 days in other countries that are not on the travel ban countries list
You can find the details about the types of approved vaccines by WHO in this link
- There are no planned changes to ease the US Land border policies. Currently, only essential workers are allowed to travel between US-Canada and US-Mexico Borders using Land
- All the above policies and new changes announced are related to air travel from other countries to the US
Are There Quarantine, Testing Requirements for Fully Vaccinated?
- 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 Cardholders
- Full details on quarantine criteria requirements are not published, yet
What Does US Lifting Travel Ban Really Mean for Travelers?
- 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 early November 2021, individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need the NIE approval from the consulates
- 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
For more details on the National Interest, Exception list read here
US Visa Stamping Requirements:
- If you are applying for US Visastamping for an in-person 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 the US and qualify for NIE to get a 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 requirements starting from November, all of these NIE letters or proofs will not be required, if you meet the vaccine requirements and negative COVID test
Visitors – B1/ B2 Visa
- At present, 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 family’s members, including parents applying for Visitors (B2 Visa), are not able to get stamping or travel to the US with the travel ban
- Starting from November, all of these individuals would be able to get stamping and travel to the US
- But the US Visa appointments wait for times are unprecedently long. We will provide an update on how consulates handle this situation
Would US Travel Ban Be Lifted for India too?
- Many may wonder if the US travel ban would be lifted for India as well or not
- According to the announcement from the White House, the travel ban would be lifted for India along with 33 other nations
- The idea is to eliminate the country-specific requirements and introduce individual-specific requirements for entry based on vaccination status
- However, 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
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