Last month, the White House announced a new travel policy aimed at relaxing earlier curbs for entry into the US. The policy, in effect from November 8, is applicable to vaccinated Indians, both residents and tourists.
Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, one of the two widely administered vaccines in India, is now on CDC's (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) list of approved vaccines.
Here are all the details you need to know before you begin planning your travel to USA.
Who can travel to the US?
All fully vaccinated Indians, including permanent US visa holders, and tourists can now travel to the US. India and several European, and Asian countries were rid of a long-standing travel ban following the Presidential proclamation.
What modes of transportation to the US are open?
Flights to the US are operational and land borders with Mexico and Canada have also been reopened after the long Covid-induced hiatus. Vaccinated travellers are allowed to enter through land, air, and sea routes.
What about countries with low vaccination rates?
While travel to the US is open only to vaccinated individuals, the Biden administration has identified 50 countries including Afghanistan, Sudan, and Libya, with vaccination coverage less than 10 per cent. Individuals from these countries fall under the exemption category and can travel to the US with prior permission.
What is considered fully vaccinated?
Individuals who have received a single dose vaccine, or both doses of a two-dose vaccine, approved by the CDC or on WHO's EUL (Emergency Usage Listing), and have completed 14 days thereafter, are considered fully vaccinated.
For Indians, Covishield and Covaxin are on CDC's list. The Russian vaccine Sputnik is not on this list.
What about Sputnik?
Sputnik is not on CDC's list of approved vaccines. This means that those who have received the vaccine will not be considered fully vaccinated. Hence, they will not be able to travel to the US.
What do you need to travel to the US?
All travellers arriving by air in the US, need to follow these guidelines.
- Proof of vaccination submitted to the airline in digital or print form.
- A verifiable COVID-19 viral test (RT PCR) conducted three days before departure. This means test reports must include a QR code that can be digitally verified against a database.
- A completed Passenger Disclosure and Attestation Form.
- The CDC also recommends (does not mandate) getting a viral test 3-5 days after arrival in the US and self-monitoring your health.
Do you still need to get tested if you are vaccinated?
Yes, you need a negative COVID-19 viral test report even if you are vaccinated. An RT-PCR test is accepted.
What about children?
Children travelling to the US fall under the exemption category and need not be fully vaccinated. However, all children between the age of two and 18 will need to submit a negative Covid viral test report. Children up to the age of two are exempted from testing.
In a Facebook Live with Don Heflin, Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, the US Embassy India, addressed several common visa queries for immigrant, student and tourist visas.
The bottom line here remains that there is a huge backlog of visa appointments, and it may be a while before you get one.
Is it possible to travel on an existing long-term visa?
Yes, travel for existing visas opened on November 8.
When will visa appointments open?
Visa appointments for January to May 2022, for immigrant and student visas and drop boxes for tourist visa renewals, are likely to open in the next couple of weeks (November end- early December).
Will there be enough visa appointments to cover the backlog?
There is no guarantee of that and there will be significantly less visa interviews.
Will fresh tourist visas be entertained?
The likelihood of an appointment for a first-time tourist visa will be rare. For those who have had a tourist visa before, drop box interviews are possible.
For those on an H1B visa, is visiting India for stamping and return to the US possible?
As per the Embassy, booking an appointment before going is recommended. However, there is no guarantee for an appointment. Travelling back as such, is currently discouraged.
When will visa appointments get back to normal?
There is no information on that yet.
Updated On: 2021-11-12T10:46:33+05:30