The US announced its travel restrictions on India starts on May 4. This was a response to the surge in COVID19 cases in India. India recently surpassed 18 million COVID cases as it grapples with more infectious COVID19 variants. However, the Biden administration announced exemptions including US citizens and permanent residents. In a separate announcement, the Biden administration further clarified their policy. The travel ban will also not include Indian students, journalists, and academics.
Exemptions on Indian Students and Other Nationalities
The US earlier allowed international students from China, Brazil, Iran, and South Africa to enter US. This is in anticipation of the resumption of in-person classes. However, they need to have an existing visa to be able to do so. They can qualify for a National Interest Exception according to the State Department.
The State Department said that “As the global situation evolves, the Department continues to seek ways to process more visa applications, in line with science-based guidance from health authorities, and with the health and safety of staff and applicants as our priority”.
The US in Solidarity with India
The US is sending Daniel Smith who worked as former acting secretary of State and acting deputy secretary of State to India. He will temporarily work as the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in New Delhi.
The state department said that “The United States stands in solidarity with India”.
However, the US is not the only country that imposed a travel restriction on India. Along with the US, The UK, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Italy are some of the other countries that also did the same. Health officials all over the world fear the entry of mutated viruses that could spike their COVID19 cases. One of the main concerns is the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the new variants.
The US State Department told Americans in India to go back to the US via flights to Paris and Frankfurt as healthcare facilities are overwhelmed.
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