US restricts travel from India; H-1B, L1 holders most affected

Hundreds of visa holders are currently stuck in India.

President Joe Biden has issued a proclamation restricting entry of travelers from India starting on May 4, as the country battles a catastrophic surge in Covid-19 cases. “On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday afternoon. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India.”

The travel ban, which takes effect on Tuesday at 12:01 am ET, will not apply to US citizens and permanent residents, humanitarian workers and other travelers with exemptions.

Travelers from India who are allowed to come to the United States must test negative prior to boarding US bound flights and those who have not been vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days, according to the proclamation.

READ: Indian Americans concerned about travel to Covid hit India (April 26, 2021)

The travelers most affected will be holders of various work, student and visitor visas, such as H-1B, L1, F-1 and B1/B2.

Johnson L. Myalil, an immigration attorney at High-Tech Immigration Law Group in Reston, VA, said hundreds of Indian nationals on various work visas are currently in India.

“When the Covid situation stabilized in the United States, many visa holders went to India to apply for stamping their visas that were extended, assuming that the pandemic is under control in India,” said Myalil. “They are now stuck in India, as tickets for flight before Tuesday are not available.”

Myalil said not all work visa holders stuck in India might be able to work remotely because of security reasons.

READ: $100 million worth US Covid relief aid starts arriving in India (April 29, 2021)

The proclamation, issued later in the day, said after “reviewing the public health situation within” India, “CDC has concluded that proactive measures are required to protect” the nation’s “public health from travelers entering the United States” from the country.

“I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as nonimmigrants, of noncitizens of the United States (“noncitizens”) who were physically present within the Republic of India during the 14‑day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” it said.

The restriction will be in effect for at least 30 days. The president will modify or terminate the travel restriction based on the advice of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

READ MORE:

Vinod Khosla offers to help Indian hospitals with import of oxygen (April 24, 2021)

Covid tsunami hits India with record 332,000 daily cases (April 23, 2021)

Don’t let the ‘America First’ derail India-U.S. ties (April 24, 202)

US may curb Air India evacuation flights from July 22 (June 23, 2020)

Air India announces more US-India flights from June 11 (June 8, 2020)

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