By Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a Proclamation suspending the entry of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India, which went into effect on Tuesday, May 4. This is related to the 2nd Covid 19 outbreak in India, which has been determined by the CDC to be particularly dangerous.
Immigrants, U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents (LPR) are not subject to the proclamation. Some other exceptions include, but are not limited to: foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas and certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents including spouses, minor children, parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21).
There are also several national interest exceptions that are allowed to travel and enter the United States. The determination of what would be in the national interest has been determined by the Secretary of State. Thus far, the Secretary has determined these groups:
- 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.
- Travelers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors
- Pilots and aircrew traveling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance, including individuals who are traveling to the United States on B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visas, or Visa Waiver Program authorizations. This also include certain M-2 dependents when the principal’s necessary training is four weeks or more.
- Certain exchange visitors, including:
- i)Travel by a variety of au pair groups.
- ii)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.
iii) 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.
- iv)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 ability to make a specialized contribution to the education of students in the United States.
- v)Travel in support of critical 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.
Travelers in these categories who wish to visit the United States and have a valid visa in the appropriate class, or who are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe they may qualify for a national interest exception should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling. If you or a loved one have any questions about the President’s India Travel Suspension Proclamation, please contact a knowledgeable professional.