In a breath of relief for international travellers from across the world, the United States on Friday announced the easing of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers.
The Joe Biden administration is officially set to lift all restrictions for fully vaccinated international travellers, including from India, from November 8. But, according to the official statement, carrying proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight to the country will remain mandatory.
An estimated three million visa applications from Indians wanting to visit the United States, either for work, leisure or academics, will flood the US administration once the travel restrictions are eased, as per reports.
Here's what the new rules, applicable from November 8, means for Indians wishing to travel to the US.
Can Indians travel to the US now?
Vaccinated Indians can now travel to the US with their vaccination certificates. The US approved the entry of those who have received a double shot of Covaxin after the World Health Organisation granted emergency use approval to the Bharat Biotech Covid-19 vaccine.
The White House recently said that only those jabbed with vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the WHO will be allowed to board a plane to the US. On Wednesday, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged the WHO's granting of the approval to the indigenous Indian vaccine.
What do the new rules mean for vaccinated travellers?
While the US has allowed entry of inoculated travellers, fully vaccinated travellers including Indians will still be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three days of travel to the US prior to boarding.
According to the statement released by the US on Friday, passengers will need to show their vaccination status, and the airlines will need to match the name and date of birth to confirm that the passenger is the same person reflected on the proof of vaccination.
The authorities will then determine that the record was issued by an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was given and review the essential information for determining if the passenger meets CDC's definition for fully vaccinated such as vaccine product, number of vaccine doses received, date(s) of administration, site (e.g., vaccination clinic, health care facility) of vaccination.
Can unvaccinated travellers enter the US?
Unvaccinated travellers - whether US Citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or the small number of accepted unvaccinated foreign nationals - will now need to test within one day of departure.
As per the guidelines provided by the White House, unvaccinated minors will need to test at the same time as the adults with whom they are travelling – three days with vaccinated adults and one day with unvaccinated adults.
(With inputs from agencies)