The Biden Administration has announced that it will restrict travel from India in light of the significant COVID surge there. The travel restrictions take effect Tuesday May 4th, 2021, and these restrictions follow similar suit as the COVID related travel limitations that have been placed for China, Brazil, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and countries in the Schengen Area. For a detailed review of these travel restrictions, please read our blog Non-Immigrant Visa Ban Expires, but Service Limitation and Travel Restrictions Remain. Noncitizens who have been physically present in India– even if they never left the airport – during the 14 days preceding any planned entry into the United States will not be permitted to engage in such travel.
Exemption to Travel Restrictions
As with prior travel restrictions, U.S. citizens and permanent residents entering the United States will be exempt from the restrictions imposed on travel from India. This includes spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents; foreign national parents or guardians and siblings of unmarried U.S. citizens or permanent residents under age 21 (the siblings also must be under 21 and unmarried); foreign national children, foster children, wards or certain prospective adoptees of U.S. citizens or permanent residents; foreign nationals traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for purposes related to containment or mitigation of COVID-19; foreign air and sea crewmembers; and holders of certain Non-Immigrant Visas.
National Interest Exceptions
Individuals who are not exempt from the travel restrictions may be eligible to apply for the National Interest Exceptions (NIE). Under the Presidential Proclamation, there is an exception for individuals “whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.” For a detailed description of guidelines on how to apply for an NIE waiver, including eligibility and recent guidelines by the Department of State please consult our blogs Getting Around the Travel Bans to Get Where You Need to Go and Non-Immigrant Visa Ban Expires, but Service Limitation and Travel Restrictions Remain.
Applicants may qualify for an NIE and get an expedited appointment request granted if they demonstrate a compelling and urgent business need for their travel, such as that it is required to prevent financial loss or opportunity loss for a U.S. company or that it is needed to provide vital support to critical infrastructure. Further, applicants must show that their work cannot be postponed or performed remotely in order to qualify.
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India Remain Closed
Currently, all U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India remain closed. All appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, U.S., Consulates in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad have been cancelled until May 15, 2021. Only emergency services for U.S. citizens and emergency appointments will likely be scheduled.
Barst Mukamal & Kleiner’s immigration lawyers provide comprehensive immigration law services. Clients with questions about COVID related travel restrictions and their Non-Immigrant Visa applications are encouraged to contact a Barst attorney. For general inquiries or to set up a consultation, please visit https://barstmukamal.wpengine.com/contact-us/.