The entry restrictions does not apply to lawful permanent residents’ (LPRs or green card holders)

Due to the very high numbers of COVID-19 cases and multiple strains of the virus in India, the United States will restrict travel of non-citizens from the country, starting Tuesday, Eastern US time.

Also read: Coronavirus | Pak bans travel from India for two weeks amid record spike in cases

US President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Friday afternoon prohibiting the entry of non-citizens (the administration has done away with the term ‘alien’) who have been physically present in India for 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the US

Also read: US issues Level 4 health alert, asks its citizens to leave India

There are a long list of exemptions to the entry restrictions and the order will be reviewed every thirty days. H-1B, L and J visa holders and their dependents are not exempt from the restrictions.

The entry restrictions does not apply to lawful permanent residents’ (LPRs or green card holders); non-citizens married to Americans or green card holders; non-citizen parents or legal guardians of minors (under 21) who are US citizens or green card holders; siblings of unmarried citizens or LPRs, provided they are both under 21 and unmarried and other categories of travelers. The exemption list is longer than similar lists under the Trump administration’s pandemic-related restrictions.

Other exemptions include foreigners traveling at the invitation of the administration for the purposes of containment of the virus, those whose entry into the US is in its national interest, diplomats of various categories, crew members, and other categories.

Significantly, the order also states that the rights of individuals to claim asylum shall not be diminished by the order.

Also read: Coronavirus | Narendra Modi speaks to Joe Biden over phone amid surge in cases

“After reviewing the public health situation within the Republic of India, CDC has participated that proactive measures are required to protect the nation’s public health from travelers entering the United States from that jurisdiction,” Mr. Biden said.

News of the order came earlier on Friday with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki releasing a statement announcing it.

“It is the policy of my administration to implement science-based public health measures, across all areas of the federal government, to act swiftly and aggressively to prevent further spread of the disease,” Mr Biden said in the order.

The order says India accounts for over a third of the new cases of the virus, and that they are increasing at a ‘rapid rate’. The order says that India has seen circulating a variant called B.1.617, among others, such as the UK variant (B.1.1.7) and South African variant (B.1.351). These variants may be less susceptible to vaccines and more easily transmitted as per the CDC.

Also read: US COVID-19 assistance en route to New Delhi

Mr Biden’s order invokes section 212 (f) of the US’s Immigration and Nationality Act, which was among the laws invoked on January this year by US President Biden to extend a Trump-era restriction on travel from the UK, Ireland, EU, Brazil and South Africa due to COVID-19 concerns.

Airlines have been informed of the administration’s decision, as per a Cnn report.

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