Nonimmigrant Visa Holders like Him who travelled for Visa Stamping or Family Emergency are Stuck in India amid US Travel Ban

Since the pandemic began, time has been a roller-coaster ride for many non-immigrant US visa holders. They are back to where they were early in 2020. In the wake of the pandemic, India suspended all international flights, inbound and outbound, leaving thousands of non-immigrant visa holders stranded and separated from their families in the US until the launch of Vande Bharat Mission expanding to air bubble travel. A little more than a year later, they have met with the same fate in the aftermath of the US government’s entry restriction for certain travelers from India, effective this May 4.

US travel ban India, H1B visa holders stuck India, National Interest Exception

Picture Credit: Worldnewsera.com

Ashu Mahajan, a 44-year-old H1B professional from New Jersey, is left helpless in India and pleading with the US government for return to his family because of the selective move restricting entry to certain travelers from India – which his wife calls ‘an irony’. Anu Sharma, an H4 visa holder from California, has also got stuck in India for an indefinite period of the US travel restriction. A virus can transmit through anyone, a US citizen or a non-US citizen; it does not differentiate. We feel we are once again penalized because we are in the long queue for green cards,” she told the American Bazaar.

Ashu Mahajan, who has been working as an architect on H1B in the US since 2008, had gone to India to look after his 75-year-old, ailing father in mid-April. His short trip was extended as his father contracted the virus and succumbed to it after a few days of hospitalization and intubation in New Delhi. He cannot travel back also because the US consulates have cancelled in-person appointments in India. He can’t re-enter the US unless he attends an in-person appointment for visa stamping. With his dad being no more, Ashu is all alone in India and longs to be his with wife and kids in Scotch Plains.

Another H1B visa holder whose wife is expecting next month in California is stuck in India due to the travel impasse between the two countries. Out of the sheer concern about his pregnant wife being alone, he is desperately looking for a way out of the restriction. Similar is the fate of many others who had traveled to India for visa stamping and family emergency got stuck there as the US government’s entry restriction disrupted their return travel plans amid the soaring numbers of positive cases in India.

Inundated by calls of anxiety from those stuck in India and their separated families in the US, immigration attorneys opine that the selective travel restriction does not serve the purpose. The entry restriction should not be based on one’s citizenship, LPR status, or visa type. It should be either equal to all arriving from India or revoked immediately, according to attorneys dealing in immigration and visa services.

President Biden’s proclamation restricting travel from India, beginning May 4, mostly affects H1B and H4 visa holders whose spouse is neither a US citizen nor a lawful permanent resident. They are not subject to the proclamation if they are parents of a US-born kid. However, there is a way out for some of those who are not exempt from the restriction on entry into the United States.

Any non-immigrant visa holder/foreign national/non-US resident whose entry to the USA is in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, may qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE). Nonimmigrant visa holders whose travel to the US is critical to the purposes including but not limited to national security, civic infrastructure, public healthcare and humanitarianism are needed to demonstrate that they qualify for a National Interest Exception. They can contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate in India prior to traveling or returning to the US. A National Interest Exception, if granted, is valid for a single entry within 30 days from the date of approval.

  • U.S. Embassy New Delhi:   NewDelhiNIE@state.gov
  • U.S. Consulate General Chennai: ChennaiNIE@state.gov
  • U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad: HyderabadNIE@state.gov
  • U.S. Consulate General Kolkata: KolkataNIE@state.gov
  • U.S. Consulate General Mumbai: MumbaiNIE@state.gov

You must provide the following information in your email seeking a National Interest Exception:

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Passport number
  • Visa number and category
  • Travel dates
  • Travel purpose
  • National interest category

23 thoughts on “Nonimmigrant Visa Holders like Him who travelled for Visa Stamping or Family Emergency are Stuck in India amid US Travel Ban

  1. Shiva P

    Hello,

    My name Shiva. I am on H1B, my wife is on H4 and my 1 1/2 year son is a US citizen. My wife is now 3 months pregnant and her labor is due in Feb 2022. My in-laws has B1/B2 visa stamped and need to travel to US in Dec 2021 to take care of our son during my wife’s labor.
    Can we seek NIE approval specifying that they are required to take care of my son who is US citizen ?

    Reply
  2. Anu

    My name is Anu, I travelled to india to attend my mom’s funeral. Can I seek NIE approval to travel back to us?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Anu! If your spouse is a US citizen or green card holder, or if you have a US-born kid, you don’t NIE approval.

      Reply
  3. manisha

    does US born child needs to be with parents in India and then only parents dont need NIE? If someone doesn’t need NIE then what is the process of obtaining tickets and how the immigration will go? What proof will they need to be present with Parent if kid is not with them while they travel from India to US

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Manisha! As per the norms, either US-born kids should be in the US or with their parents. Parents must carry their US-born kids’ original passport and birth certificate or copies, no matter if the kids are in the US/India or with the parents.

      Reply
  4. Thanu Puhspa

    Hi,

    I traveled to India for a family health emergency. I’m currently in India and on an H1B visa. can I apply for NIE to travel back to USA ? My employer does not provide Work from Home as an option so I cannot work from India and hence have to go back to USA to continue my work. Please suggest a way to get NIE were I can travel back to USA

    Reply
  5. VS

    With previously expired Visa but with an approved / valid I797, and US Citizen kid, is it possible to get appointment for Visa stamp in India for re-entry to US? Does this also have to go through NIE?

    Reply
  6. Nagarjuna

    Hi,

    My H1B Visa interview is scheduled on 22nd and 23rd Sept at Hyderabad location.( I applied for first time and it is new visa for me).

    Do I need NIE approval for appearing for visa Stamping ?

    Thanks,
    Nagarjuna.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Nagarjuna! NIE approval is not required for visa stamping. If you need NIE approval for traveling to the US, you can provide an NIE application along with a letter from your employer during the visa stamping interview.

      Reply
  7. PS

    Hi I am planning to travel to India. I am on H1B and I am qualified for dropbox. Do I need NIE for DropBox appointments? I have a child with US born. Please suggest?
    Seeing different blogs saying need NIE for DropBox appointments also. So please confirm?

    Thanks
    PS

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Prasanthi! NIE is not required for visa appointment or stamping. Having a US-born kid, you don’t need NIE approval.

      Reply
  8. Preethi

    Hello,

    My self Preethi…I have different situation here….I have been living in India(Indian passport holder)with my son(Canadian)from last three years. My husband is in the USA who is working on TN visa(Canadian)status. I want to go to the USA to be with him but he is not letting us to come to the USA by giving supporting documents. He is saying he is not interested to stay with us but supporting us financially every month. I want to meet him personally and sort out some things before any worse can happen. I want to travel on B2 visa as I have a sponsor from the USA and want to talk to him personally. My son passport is also with him he is not sending the passport to India.
    1. In this case will I qualify in NIE to apply for B2 visa and attend the interview?
    2.Will the embassy consider my situation and approve my Visa?
    3. What do I need to do in my case, please suggest me so that I can travel to the USA ASAP.

    Reply
  9. Ashish V

    Hi
    I travelled to India on 13th september and my father passed away 14th sept. My mom is alone and has her b2/ visitor visa stamped in 2015. I also have H1B stamped. I work in IT for a jwellery making client. Can i apply for NIE ? or will they give NIE?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Ashish! Only the consular officers are authorized to determine your eligibility for NIE approval. There is no harm in applying for NIE. Make sure that your reason/purpose for seeking NIE is established and justified in the application template.

      Reply
  10. JT

    Hi

    My Husband is on H1B in USA and need to travel to india to attend his Sick Mother. He has a valid petition till Dec-2022 and needs to get his H1B visa stamped to reenter US. He is not eligible for drop box but our US born kids are in US along with Mom.

    Questions:
    (1) Does he need to get NIE approval ( i guess not since US born kids, what document he need to carry ? )
    (2) Can he get expidited appointment (what is the process and how to apply, can he change his consulate to Mumbai rather than Hyderabad from where he got his visa stamped last time)

    Please let me know

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Trupti! He does not require NIE approval. We have little idea about whether he can shift from Hyderabad to Mumbai Consulate.

      Reply
  11. Santhosh

    Hi, I am on H1B and have I797 valid till 07/2024. My spouse and kid both are on H4 and they are in USA. My father passed away and I travelled to India to support my mom (My spouse and son dint travel to India due to health reason). Now I cant go back to USA as I am not getting any slots for visa interview and I am hearing there is only drop box option available but I am not eligible for it. My employer is ready to provide NIE letter. Please advise, what can be done?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      HI Santosh! The employer’s NIE letter is of no use unless you secure a slot for the visa interview. You can submit the employer’s NIE letter and your NIE application along with other documents while going for the visa interview.

      Reply

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