Will Travel Restrictions For Indians Going To USA Ease? Here’s The Official Statement
Amid the improving Covid-19 situation in India, people of the country are eagerly looking forward to resumption of international air travel, which was banned by many countries (for Indian travelers), as the infection caseload in India skyrocketed in April.
However, with some nations steadily reopening their boundaries to Indian nationals, many Indian expatriates currently living in India are now looking forward to returning to their countries of occupation, given the restrictions on flights.
While the Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi urged countries to normalize travel routes with India on Thursday, the minister-counsellor for consular affairs in US Embassy New Delhi, Don Heflin clarified certain queries spiraling across lifting of travel ban for Indians to the United States.
When Can the US Open Boundaries to India?
In an interview conducted by Hindustan Times, it is learnt that while the exact date for lifting the travel restrictions for Indians to the US cannot be immediately predicted, an indication of the same however, can be signalled once the travel ban on Europe’s Schengen area is lifted by the US.
The Schengen area consists of 26 European countries, some of which are France, Germany, Italy, and Denmark.
“It is hard to predict when the travel restrictions will be lifted. But one signal for India will be to look for the lifting of the restriction from Europe’s Schengen area, which was placed under travel curbs before India. Once those countries come out of restrictions, India can expect to see the lifting of the US travel ban”, says Don Heflin, when asked about the US’ plans to restart travel from India.
Currently, travel to the US is restricted for Indians, or anyone who has been in India 14 days prior to their journey to the US.
However, this restriction is waived for American citizens, students and anyone whose presence in the US is of national interest.
Due to the surge in Covid-19 infection cases across India, the US embassy could not process visas for candidates, which came as a big blow for Indian students having their academic sessions scheduled to start in August.
Speaking on the matter, Heflin informed that the embassy has been working towards increasing the number of visa appointments, the count of which will be manifold in July.
Furthermore, the second wave of the pandemic in India also led to delayed visa processings, which have now been resumed by the embassy and consulate, focusing first on returning workers and now students, as soon as conditions allowed.
For the ones travelling to the US from India, Heflin added that currently the United States does not require a traveller to be vaccinated. The only requirement is to have an RT-PCR test report. However, many schools and universities are following their own guidelines regarding vaccination.
Heflin added that vaccines are widely available in the US. This came in response to the indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine in India, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which is yet to receive a nod from the World Health Organization.
India Working Hard to Get Covaxin Approved by WHO
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi on Thursday, urged countries to resume their travel with India, as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is on a decline.
He said that the government of India has been working continually to accord this high priority.
“We would hope that as the covid situation continues to improve in our country, the other countries would take steps to normalize travel with India. We have seen some initial steps in this regard. The government will continue to prioritise this issue,” added Bagchi.
When asked about Covaxin getting the approval seal from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Bagchi informed that the Indian government was “closely following” the efforts of Bharat Biotech to obtain emergency use listing authorization from the global health body.