On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation, effective May 4, 2021, suspending entry into the U.S. of nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in the Republic of India in the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.
The proclamation will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Tuesday, May 4, except for any aircraft that already departed prior to this time. The proclamation does not affect immediate family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
National Interest Exceptions
The Department of State has determined that F-1 students entering the U.S. from India to start or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later are eligible for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the travel restrictions described above. India joins a list of countries whose F-1 students are eligible for NIEs that also includes China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Schengen Area.
Students with a valid F-1 visa beginning or continuing an academic program starting on August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.
Since the NIE announcement refers only to entry “no earlier than 30 days before the start of academic studies,” it is unclear how this may apply to F-1 students on post-completion OPT or STEM OPT. Once we have clarification about this, we will update our Stay Informed page.
There is no automatic National Interest Exception for students holding J-1 visas. Based on the information we have at this time, we understand that students with J-1 visas whose program begins on or after August 1, 2021 would need to apply for an NIE through their local consulate before they can enter the U.S.
The Department of State has also determined that the following individuals may seek National Interest Exceptions:
- Travelers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sections
- Travelers seeking entry to the U.S. for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response or national security
These travelers and any others who believe their entry is in the U.S.’ national interest should contact their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for further instructions on how to apply for an NIE.
COVID-19-related travel restrictions are fluid and may continue to change. ISSS will update our blog and our Stay Informed page if there are any future changes.