The USA is implementing travel restrictions for travel originating from India with effect from May 4, 2021, 0001 Hours Eastern Daylight Time. Anyone who is already on a plane to the USA at this time, however, is exempted from this ban.
At the time of making the Presidential Proclamation, the following set of people were still allowed to enter the USA on flights from India:
- any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- any noncitizen national of the United States;
- any noncitizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any noncitizen 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 pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- any noncitizen travelling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- any noncitizen travelling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise travelling to the United States as air or sea crew;
- any noncitizen
- seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or
- whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
- any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or who is a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
- any noncitizen whose entry would further important the United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
- any noncitizen whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.
Now, using the last statute, the State Department has determined additional people who will be allowed entry to the USA. The new exceptions to the Presidential Proclamation include:
- Immigrants (not applicable to the restrictions under the April 30, India Proclamation, which only covers nonimmigrant travel)
- Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021, or later. Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021, or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.
- Travellers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors
- Pilots and aircrew travelling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance, including individuals who are travelling to the United States on B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visas, or Visa Waiver Program authorizations. This also includes certain M-2 dependents when the principal’s necessary training is four weeks or more.
- Certain exchange visitors, including:
- Travel by an au pair to provide care for a minor U.S. citizen, LPR, or nonimmigrant in lawful status when the au pair possesses special skills required for a child with particular needs (e.g., medical, special education, or sign language).
- Travel by an au pair that prevents a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrants in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state or of a medical or other public-funded institution.
- Travel by an au pair to provide childcare services for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.
- Travel for an exchange program conducted pursuant to an MOU, Statement of Intent, or other valid agreement or arrangement between a foreign government and any federal, state, or local government entity in the United States that is designed to promote U.S. national interests if the agreement or arrangement with the foreign government was in effect prior to June 24, 2020.
- Travel by Interns and Trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs (those with a program number beginning with “G-3” on Form DS-2019): An exchange visitor participating in an exchange visitor program in which he or she will be hosted by a U.S. government agency and the program supports the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.
- Travel by Specialized Teachers in Accredited Educational Institutions with a program number beginning with “G-5” on Form DS-2019: An exchange visitor participating in an exchange program in which he or she will teach full-time, including a substantial portion that is in person, in a publicly or privately operated primary or secondary accredited educational institution where the applicant demonstrates the ability to make a specialized contribution to the education of students in the United States. A “specialized teacher” applicant must demonstrate native or near-native foreign language proficiency and the ability to teach his/her assigned subject(s) in that language.
- Travel in support of critical foreign policy objectives: This only includes exchange visitors participating in a small number of exchange programs that fulfil critical and time-sensitive foreign policy objectives.
- Derivative family members accompanying a noncitizen who is excepted from or otherwise not subject to the Proclamation and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research of four weeks or longer.
There was concern from the students who were supposed to join their US universities in the second half of this year, which is now cleared out. Not just that journalists have also been exempt now from the ban.
What do you think of the extended list of exceptions to the US travel ban on India? Any other categories missed out by them which should be considered?
(HT: Balajee V)
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