US-bound students from India and other countries will not require a Covid-19 vaccination proof to enter the US, said the US Embassy’s Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Don Heflin. Students will only be required to show a negative Covid-19 test report taken within 72 hours of boarding a flight to the US.
The US embassy has started working from June 14, 2021, to process student visa applications of Indian students and facilitate their legitimate travel.
Keeping in mind the anxiety that Indian students and their families are facing amidst the second wave of Covid, the US Embassy has also started giving visa interview slots to Indian applicants from June 14.
Heflin said that facilitating legitimate student travel is a top priority for the US Mission to India and that they will try to accommodate as many applicants as possible between July and August.
When asked to comment on the travel restrictions imposed on Indian travellers by the US in May 2021, Heflin said that students who were returning to academic programs resuming on or after August 1 may fly to the US up to 30 days prior to the resumption date of the program. No National Interest Exception will be required in such a situation.
For continuing students, he recommended students to discuss the resumption plans with the concerned universities with a specific travel plan.
He further mentioned that they were planning to start interviewing student visa applicants from July 1, 2021.
While proof of vaccination is not required to enter the US, one will have to carry a negative RT-PCR report taken within 72 hours of boarding a flight to the US. US universities, however, may require international students to get fully vaccinated before returning to campus, he added.
Over 4,500 accredited universities in the US are autonomous and may have different vaccination requirements. Students should therefore check the university’s individual vaccination requirements before arriving in the US.
He further stated that parents who want to accompany their children to the US will be considered tourists and tourist travel continues to remain prohibited according to Presidential Proclamation 10199.
Heflin also said that the Presidential Proclamation 10199 that authorised a travel ban on non-immigrants applied only to non-citizens who have been present in India in the last 14 days before travelling to the US.
Those with F and M visas from India will be permitted to travel to the US within 30 days of the start of the program which may be on or after August 1, 2021. They must, hence, be allowed to enter the US as early as July 2, 2021.
Student visa applicants whose appointment has been cancelled will have to make a new appointment. The new student visa appointments will be based on a first-come, first-served basis.
Heflin also said that non-immigrant visa holders included those with H-1B visas who are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation 10199 on the basis of their familial relationship with a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or unmarried child do not require an NIE.
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