Update: India Travel Ban (effective May 4th)

Posted on: April 30th, 2021
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Note: This post has been updated as of May 6th, 2021. The previous client alert is beneath this one. 


I know that everyone has employees stuck in India.  The travel ban and the consulate closings took everyone by surprise last week, especially those already in India.


The two common situations we are seeing:

  1. People abroad without visas looking for consulates in other countries where they can go to visa process; and
  2. People with visas hoping they can get a National Interest Exception (NIE) to fly directly back to the U.S. and avoid going to another country for 14 days before returning to the U.S.


It is unlikely we will be able to get visa stamping appointments in other countries for the Indian citizens needing visas.  Mexico has nothing available until end of the year for non-Mexican travelers and they are denying the expedite requests in the majority of cases.  The other places where this might have been an option in the past (i.e. Canada, etc.) are no longer possible because of similar travel bans.  Many countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand have also banned those who have been in India from entering.


To fly directly back to the U.S., a traveler from India will have to qualify for an exception to the ban, like being the parent of a minor US Citizen, or for a National Interest Exception waivers.  This is difficult and time consuming. It actually takes more than 14 days.  To get a waiver, we will have to prove that the person’s presence in the U.S. is highly time-sensitive and critical to the company.  The consulate or port of entry must approve an NIE, and are taking at least 2-3 weeks to respond to NIE requests. It will likely be faster for employees to fly to a non-banned country and sit out the 14 days.  Many of our European and Brazilian clients who have been dealing with similar bans since last year have been going to the Caribbean or Mexico for two weeks on their way back to the U.S.


It’s important that when flying to the U.S. after the 14 days the traveler not transit through another banned country. As a reminder,  there are still travel bans in effect for Brazil, China, the UK, Ireland, the Schengen Zone countries (most of Europe), South Africa, Iran and now, India.


I’ll keep updating you as things change and am happy to answers questions as they arise.

— Lynn Susser


President Biden just issued a proclamation suspending travel directly from India to the U.S. for nonimmigrants effective Tuesday, May 4th.   Those on flights leaving India Monday and arriving in the U.S. on Tuesday are not affected.


This means that Indian citizens on H1B’s, L1’s and other non-immigrant visas physically present in India will have to travel to another country for 14 days before traveling to the U.S.


The travel ban does not apply to:

  • Permanent residents (green card holders)
  • US Citizens
  • Spouses of US citizens
  • Parents of US citizens and permanent resident children (unmarried and under age 21)
  • Siblings of US citizens or permanent residents if both are children under 21
  • Children of US citizens (including foster children and prospective adoptees)
  • Travelers coming to US by invitation of the US government
  • Diplomats, NATO members, UN members
  • Non-citizen members of the military and their families
  • Those granted a National Interest Exception travel waiver


The order says it will be reviewed every 30-days by the Secretary of HHS and be modified or terminated as is warranted by the COVID-19 conditions in India.


For those of your employees that have valid visas in their passports, it would be prudent to try and leave India by Monday or make plans to spend at least 14 days in another unrestricted country on the way back. We strongly advise that Indian national employees currently in the US who would not be subject to one of the exceptions listed above not travel to India until the travel restriction is lifted.