On April 30, 2021, the Biden administration issued a proclamation that implements restrictions for travelers from India, due to concerns regarding COVID-19. Pursuant to the proclamation, noncitizens who have been physically present in India within 14 days of travel to the United States will be barred entry, unless eligible for an exception. The restrictions are scheduled to take effect on May 4, 2021, at 12:01 am eastern daylight time.
As rationale for this proclamation, the administration cites the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) assessment of the concerning public health situation—as well as the discovery of multiple variant strains of the virus—in India. By implementing this additional travel restriction, the administration asserts its commitment “to implement science-based public health measures, across all areas of the Federal Government, [and] to act swiftly and aggressively to prevent further spread of the disease.”
In January 2020, the Trump administration first started imposing regional (country-specific) travel restrictions through a series of presidential proclamations, including Proclamation 9984 (suspending entry from China), Proclamation 9993 (Schengen Area), Proclamation 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland), and Proclamation 10041 (Brazil). On January 18, 2021, President Trump rescinded the above proclamations (with the exception of China), intending for the restrictions to be lifted on January 26, 2021. President Biden’s January 25, 2021 proclamation reimposed these travel restrictions, and added South Africa to the list. Each of these regional travel bans is still currently in place. Separately, the CDC issued an order on January 12, 2021, requiring a negative COVID-19 test for all passengers before boarding a flight to the United States, if traveling from a non-restricted country (or if traveling from a restricted country after an exception is granted).
The restrictions for travel from India will take effect on May 4, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time. The travel restrictions do not apply to travelers from India who are aboard flights that depart prior to 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 4, 2021. The restrictions will be reviewed every 30 days and “remain in effect until terminated by the President.”
Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions
The proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens or to any:
- Lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
- Noncitizen national of the United States (native of an American territorial possession);
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen or green card holder;
- Parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or green card holder who is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- Sibling of a U.S. citizen or green card holder if both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- Child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, or prospective adoptee pursuant to IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- Noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to the mitigation of the virus;
- Air/sea crewmember traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D visa;
- Noncitizen traveling on an A-1, A-2, C-2, or C-3 visa (foreign government official or immediate family of official);
- Noncitizen traveling on an E-1 visa (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or employee’s immediate family);
- Noncitizen traveling on a G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa, and NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa (individuals seeking entry in one of the NATO categories);
- Armed Forces members or their immediate family members; or
- Individuals “whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives” or would “be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.”
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the firm’s Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.