Washington: The US has exempted a category of students, academics and journalists from the travel restriction on India it has clamped from May 4.
The State Department said it has taken the decision in keeping with its “commitment to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States.”
Secretary Antonyv Blinken decided on Friday to apply the same set of National Interest Exceptions to India that he had previously applied to all other regional travel restrictions currently in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Students seeking to commence studies in the fall, certain academics, journalists, and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in countries affected by a geographic COVID-19 restriction may qualify for a National Interest Exception.
This includes qualified applicants who have been present in India, Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa.”
The pandemic continues to limit the number of visas our embassies and consulates abroad are able to process. Visa applicants should check the website of the nearest Embassy or Consulate for the most up-to-date information about visa appointment availability, it said.
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 Department said if circumstances warrant, the Secretary of State may revise the national interest determination.
In the light of the daily-increasing coronavirus cases in India, United States President Joe Biden has decided to impose a new travel restriction on the south-Asian country from the coming Tuesday.
The new restrictions, which take effect on Tuesday, May 4 at 0401 hrs (GMT), are on the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and were imposed because “the magnitude and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic” in India was “surging,” the White House said.
Biden has signed a proclamation implementing the restrictions, which said that India “accounts for over one-third of new global cases” and added that “proactive measures are required to protect the nation’s public health from travelers entering the United States” from the former.