For the past 10 days, we have been fielding calls from clients who have a compelling need to travel to, or from India. Unfortunately, the Presidential Proclamation[1] that went into effect on May 4th has made an already complex situation, more difficult. The US Embassies in India have suspended all routine non immigrant and immigrant visa services. We urge clients to carefully consider risks, both from a health perspective and from an immigration angle, before undertaking travel to India. From reports of limited PCR testing availability to frequent cancellations of international flights, the process of returning from travel to India may become complicated and be delayed significantly.

For those that are planning travel from India, the Presidential ban on travel specifically exempts certain individuals. According to the proclamation, this list includes:

    1. any lawful permanent resident of the United States
    2. any noncitizen national of the United States
    3. any noncitizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    4. any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian 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
    5. any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21
    6. any noncitizen who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications
    7. any noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus
    8. any noncitizen traveling as a non immigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D non immigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew
    9. It also exempts certain non-citizens who are:
      1. seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: 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 non immigrant in one of those NATO categories); or
      2. whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement
    10. any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or who is a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
    11. any noncitizen whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
    12. any noncitizen whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

Exemption will also extend to an individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the regulations issued pursuant to the legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States.

National Interest Exception

On May 13th, the Department of State provided an update on obtaining a National Interest Exception for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Absent notably in the list was India.

While most non immigrants cannot enter the US at this time, one may be able to obtain a waiver from the Embassy in India. The US Embassy in New Delhi lists the following process to apply for a waiver:

Visa holders with definite plans to travel who can demonstrate qualification for a National Interest Exception may contact the Embassy or Consulate that issued their visa to request a national interest exception prior to travel:

The email must include the following information for all travelers seeking an exception, as it appears on the visa:

Last name:
First name:
Date of birth, in DDMMMYYY format (ie – 01JAN2021):
Gender (M/F):
Country of birth:
Country of citizenship:
Passport number:
Visa Number* and Category:
Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa):
Travel dates:
Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE:

Each request will be carefully considered as our limited resources allow.  Emails in languages other than English may slow response time.  We aim to respond to each request within two weeks but cannot guarantee a decision date or the outcome of the decision. Errors in the submitted data may prevent approval in NIE requests.

Please note that national interest exceptions, when granted, are valid for a single entry within 30 days of approval.

Some clients have asked the obvious question. What if we travel to a third country (not currently subject to the suspension) and spend 14 days in quarantine before undertaking travel to the US? We are unsure how this is likely to play out at the port of entry. We have credible reports that the CBP is asking travelers to list countries that they have traveled to since they left India even if it has been more than 14 days. With COVID cases multiplying in several world destinations, and more cases of travel suspension being contemplated, it may be wise to weigh the risk of being stuck in a third country, prior to undertaking travel. The prospect of having to return to India due to the travel suspension after undertaking an arduous journey through a third country is at best fraught with risk.

Finally, we suggest discussing your options with an Attorney at Kidambi & Associates prior to making any travel plans.

[1] For a list of Presidential Proclamations, Click HERE.