On 30th April 2021, a new COVID-related travel ban was implemented by the Biden government. The ban suspended entry into the United States of nonimmigrants who were physically present in India during the preceding 14 days. The government initiated this ban to shorten the spread of a new Covid variant that has caused catastrophic devastation in India. Presently, the U.S. has given travel bans for 32 different nations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.617 variant (the strain common in India) with its sub-ancestries as a “variant of concern” on May 10. This was the fourth strain to be declared by the WHO as a variant. India now comprises up to 50% of the COVID-19 cases and 30% of the deaths from the virus, globally.
Independent of the travel ban, Indian temporary visa holders are facing the failure to renew their visas because of the closure of U.S. consulates, given the spike in COVID cases in various cities in the U.S. The U.S. consulates India have mostly remained closed and have been open only for emergency visa issuance, primarily due to the lockdown in various cities.
Temporary Visa Holders Affected by the Ban
Without a doubt, the ban has broken the plans of numerous Indian families that have ties with the United States. It is widely known that the majority of H-1B visas, a skilled labor visa, are taken by Indian techies. Indians who are H-1B visa holders live in the United States along with their dependents (spouse and children). The dependents of H-1B visa holders enter the United States in the H-4 visa category. Indians usually don’t have their parents living with them in the U.S., primarily because of the visa hassle. Such Indians who have traveled back to India from the US. To tend to their ailing parents who have been stranded in India because of the unexpected travel ban.
The effect of this ban has been greatest on many of the temporary visa holders who traveled alone. Leaving their families behind in the United States. These people stay separated from the families over this inconclusive travel ban.
Who Is Exempt From the COVID Travel Ban?
As with numerous previous travel bans, certain people have been exempted. A few categories of people who are not subject to the ban are as per the following:
- Any lawful permanent resident or any noncitizen national of the U.S.
- Any noncitizen who is the spouse, parent, or lawful guardian of a U.S. resident or lawful permanent resident.
- However, any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and both are under the age of 21.
- Any noncitizen going to the U.S. for a reason related to containment or migration of the virus.
- 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.
Subsequently, numerous H-1B visa holders who have U.S. citizen children are excluded from this ban.