The travel ban imposed by US President Joe Biden for people coming from India, which is experiencing one of the worst waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, came into effect on Tuesday. Biden issued a proclamation on Friday restricting travel from India starting from May 4. Certain categories of students, academics, journalists and individuals have been exempted from the ban, according to the US State Department. US nationals, those having green cards, their non-citizen spouses and children below 21 years of age, are among the various categories exempted from the restrictions.
The new travel restrictions have been imposed for an indefinite period and will require another presidential proclamation to end it. “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 non-immigrants, of non-citizens of the United States who were physically present within the Republic of India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” says the proclamation signed by Biden on Friday. The decision was taken at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services, which determined India is experiencing widespread, person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The World Health Organization has reported that the Republic of India has had more than 18,375,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The magnitude and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic in India surging, Biden said, adding that India accounts for over one-third of new global cases. The number of new cases in India is accelerating at a rapid rate, he said. Secretary of State Tony Blinken later gave an exemption to certain categories of visa holders, in particular students and non-citizen spouses and dependents of American nationals and those of legal permanent residency. According to the State Department, the travel ban exemption to certain categories is in line with a similar exemption that the US has granted to some categories of travellers from Brazil, China, Iran and or South Africa.
Students seeking to commence studies in the fall, academics, journalists and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in countries affected by a geographic COVID-19 restriction may qualify for the exception, it said. This includes qualified applicants who have been present in India, Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa, it added. The pandemic continues to limit the number of visas our embassies and consulates abroad are able to process, it said. India is struggling with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days. According to Indian health ministry data, single day rise of 3,68,147 COVID-19 infections and 3,417 fatalities pushed the country’s tally of cases to 1,99,25,604 and death toll to 2,18,959 on Monday.