India Added to List of COVID-19 Travel-Restricted Countries

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Williams Mullen

President Biden signed a new Presidential Proclamation, which adds the Republic of India to the list of countries subject to travel restrictions for noncitizens of the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This Proclamation took effect on May 4, 2021 and will remain in effect until terminated by President Biden.

Noncitizens of the U.S. who have been physically present in the Schengen Area (including 26 European countries), the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of India within the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S. are prohibited from traveling to the U.S.

These travel restrictions do not apply to the following groups of individuals:

  • Citizens of the U.S.
  • Lawful permanent residents of the U.S.
  • Spouses of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Parents or legal guardians 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.
  • Siblings of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.
  • Children, foster children or wards of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or prospective adoptees seeking to enter the U.S. pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications.
  • Individuals traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus.
  • Individuals traveling as nonimmigrants pursuant to a C-1, D or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as crewmembers or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the U.S. as air or sea crew.
  • Individuals seeking entry into or transiting the U.S. pursuant to one of the following visa categories: 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).
  • Individuals whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and any noncitizen spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Noncitizens whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives.
  • Noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest.

The Department of State (DOS) has issued guidance regarding the COVID-19 travel restrictions for India. The DOS continues to grant National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for foreign nationals who can establish that they satisfy the criteria set forth by the DOS. We previously provided an alert regarding the new restrictive criteria for NIEs from these travel restrictions.

In addition, it is important to note that consular visa operations remain severely disrupted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Employers should identify personnel who may be impacted by the new COVID-19 travel restrictions, and should be prepared for continued disruption in immigration services while the COVID-19 pandemic situation remains fluid. As a result, employers should consult immigration counsel to ensure that any extensions or changes of status for their foreign national employees are processed timely and that they can account for any unexpected delays. Furthermore, foreign nationals should communicate with their employers if they have any travel plans in the coming months. The current travel restrictions could result in foreign nationals being denied admission back into the U.S. Finally, travelers are reminded to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidance regarding necessary COVID-19 testing and protocols related to international travel.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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