With effect on May 4, 2021, the United States’ presidential proclamation restricted the arrival of non-immigrants who were in the pandemic-hit India during 14 days prior to their attempted entry to the US. Indians who were neither eligible for National Interest Exception nor belonged to any exempted category found a way to bypass the presidential proclamation. Many of them entered the US via Mexico. They travelled to Mexico, spent 14-15 days there, and then entered the US.
One more country has opened for Indians. Those affected by President Biden’s restriction on arrival of non-immigrants from the COVID-hit India can now travel to USA from India via Qatar. If your travel or return to the US is urgent, you can bypass the presidential proclamation by staying 15 days in Qatar before making onward travel to the United States. You can book a multi-city trip to USA from India with a 15-day stopover in Qatar.
The government of Qatar welcomes fully vaccinated travelers from India on certain conditions. They are subject to certain rules and regulations for entry into Qatar. Qatar’s guidelines for international travelers do not require the vaccinated ones to quarantine on arrival. If you’re inoculated with both doses of the vaccine approved by the government of Qatar, you should produce an original vaccination certificate on arrival. The certificate must include the following information:
- Name of the passenger and it must match the passport
- Type/name of the vaccine taken
- Lot number of the vaccine (if any)
- Official logo or seal of the vaccination authority
- Dose dates according to type of the vaccine (one dose for Jansen/Johnson & Johnson and two doses for other vaccines)
You will not be considered fully vaccinated if you travel to Qatar within 14 days of taking your second dose of an approved vaccine. Please note vaccinated Indians must take an RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to traveling to Qatar and undergo an antibody test on arrival. Unvaccinated children aged 0-11 traveling with their fully vaccinated parents from the red listed countries including India are subject to minimum 7 days of quarantine in Qatar. The vaccines approved by Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health are listed below:
- Pfizer / BioNTech (Comirnaty)
- Moderna (Spikefax)
- AstraZeneca (Covishied/Oxford/Vaxepheria)
- Jansen/Johnson & Johnson (only one dose)
Pre-arrival travel authorization is mandatory, in addition to your vaccination status. Qatar requires you to apply for travel authorization, free of charge, on the Ehteraz website by submitting an application and uploading the required documentation, at least 12 hours before undertaking travel to Qatar from India. Airlines are directed to onboard travelers with a valid travel authorization from the Ehteraz website. Moreover, you need to install and activate the Ehteraz mobile app with the help of a domestic Qatari SIM card. You can avail of a local SIM card on arrival at Hamad International Airport, Doha. Only upon activation of the SIM card, you can access public facilities, including local transportation in Qatar.
Indians who are restricted from travel to the US can find Qatar a most feasible country for a stopover for 15 days or more. It is all because of Qatar’s ‘visa waiver on arrival’ policy for Indians. Indians’ visa-free entry to Qatar is valid for 30 days, which can be extended for another 30 days. You should have a copy of passport with minimum 6-month validity and provide details of your return/onward travel to apply for Qatar’s visa waiver. Indians on B1/B2 visa, who are otherwise restricted from travel to the US, can benefit from Qatar’s visa waiver policy.
Qatar Airways’ air bubble flights to and from India have been flying Indians, irrespective of their US visa type, for months amid the pandemic. The reopening of Qatar has made it a lot easier for B2, H1B, H4, L1, L2, and other US visa holders from India, who are currently kept away from the US borders, to bypass the US entry restrictions.