Last month, President Joe Biden imposed new travel restrictions on India in light of the COVID-19 epidemic, barring most non-US citizens from entering the United States. The proclamation, signed by the President on April 30 and took effect on May 4, outlines the scope of the suspension and the limitations to entry into the US. Basically what this means is that until further notice, those travelers impacted by the proclamation won’t be permitted to enter the US until they have been absent from India for the past 14 days.
This latest ban is the result of the rise of COVID-19 cases and the numerous deaths as a result. Just within the last week of April alone, India has seen infections rise to over 1 million people in a country of 1.3 billion, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to over 1.8 million. The current death toll is over 200,000 and climbing.
Ban Affects Employees and Businesses
The domino effect of COVID-19 just seems to linger as it continues to impact the ability to retain international employees and prevent employees from taking business trips internationally. This recent ban is another blow to businesses relying on international employees experienced in various industries.
The ban comes at a time when it appeared there was light at the end of the tunnel. Just earlier this year, President Biden allowed the ban on foreign workers visas , in particular H-1B to lapse, benefitting thousands of Indian IT professionals. But now, these travel restrictions will not only negatively affect temporary visa holders, but US businesses who employ them.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has banned many travelers from other regions including Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, China, Iran, and the European Union. The mounted layered affect of restrictions that began with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order requiring a negative COVID test or evidence of recovery from the virus for any international travel to the US, and continuing with the ban against India, is placing a hardship on Indian workers.
The current travel ban doesn’t apply to US citizens or permanent residents and their spouses. According to a determination by the State Department, humanitarian workers, certain journalists and academics, and students continuing their studies in the fall might qualify for exemptions. But for India, it’s not enough that the country faced a downturn in its economy like so many other areas across the globe, and now is going through the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to date. The salt in the wound is the restriction on so many H-1B visa holders banned from travel to the US. Particularly affected are essential healthcare workers. It is estimated that 1/10 of the doctors who will be new residents in teaching hospitals are Indian MDs who were supposed to arrive in the US next month.