Last updated 31 May 2021
Although the case count in India is now on a downward trajectory, governments around the world are still wary of opening their borders to Indian travellers. Amongst the 40 countries to have put a travel ban on India is the United States of America. The nation has strictly suspended all leisure travel from India till further notice, granting exemption to only a select few passengers with the stipulation of coronavirus testing and quarantine.
Are you allowed to travel to the USA? Will you need to get tested? Do you need to quarantine? Read along to find out.
Can I travel from India to the USA?
In most cases, no.
Considering the exponential rise in cases in India, the POTUS has suspended all travel from India. Anyone who has been in India in the 14 days preceding the date of travel will be denied entry into the USA.
Only a select few categories of individuals have been excluded from this suspension, so they can still travel to the States. As of 31 May, these are the exempted groups:
- citizens of the US, and their spouses, minor children, parents*, and siblings**
- lawful permanent residents of the US, and their spouses, minor children, parents*, and siblings**
- foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas
- air and sea crew traveling to the United States on C, D, or C1/D visas
- noncitizens traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus
- noncitizens seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas-
- A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official)
- E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members)
- G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories)
- noncitizens whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement
- noncitizens who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their spouses and children
- noncitizens whose entry would further important the United States law enforcement objectives or would be in the national interest, as decided by the US authorities
*provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21
** provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21
Testing and Quarantine Requirements
Prior to departure
Before arriving in the USA, all passengers—including fully vaccinated travellers—need to get tested within the 3 days preceding the date of travel and carry the negative test certificate.
Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Rapid tests are also acceptable as long as they are viral tests. This includes:
- reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
- reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)
- transcription-mediated amplification (TMA)
- nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR)
- helicase-dependent amplification (HDA)
A test result must be in the form of written documentation, either on printed paper or as an electronic copy.
The documentation must include:
- Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
- The entity issuing the result (e.g. laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
- Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result for documentation of recovery from COVID-19 must show the specimen was collected within the 3 months before the flight.
- Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
- Test Result
The result can be in a language other than English as long as the airline or aircraft operator is able to confirm the test result and review other required information.
Those who have recovered from the coronavirus in the 3 months preceding travel do not need to get tested. However, they will be asked to present the documentation of recovery, that is:
- proof of a recent positive viral test, and
- a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel
Passengers will also have to sign an attestation in regards to the test report. This attention has to be submitted to the airline before embarkation.
After arriving in the USA
Unvaccinated passengers need to self-quarantine at home for a week. They should take a viral test between 3 to day 5 of arrival, and if tested positive, stay in quarantine for another week.
In case you don’t want to take this second test, you can choose to stay in quarantine at home for 10 days instead of 7.
Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
Fully vaccinated passengers need not quarantine. However, they too are required to take a viral test between 3 to day 5 of arrival, and if tested positive, stay in quarantine for a week.
Note that you’ll be considered fully vaccinated only if you have completed two weeks from receiving the final dose of your vaccine regimen. If less than 15 days have passed, then you’ll be classified as an unvaccinated passenger and will be subject to quarantine.
All arrivals, irrespective of vaccination status, should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate/get tested if they develop symptoms.
Remember that state and local recommendations/laws are also in play, so make sure you are aware of those.
As of now, Air India flies from India only to New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.
- Delhi to New York (JFK Airport): One flight is available, 3 days a week
- Delhi to New York (Newark Airport): One flight is available, 3 days a week
- Delhi to Chicago: Upto two flights are available, 7 days a week from 8 June
- Delhi to Washington: One flight is available, 3 days a week
- Mumbai to New York (JFK Airport): One flight is available, 3 days a week
- Mumbai to New York (Newark Airport): Upto two flights are available, 4 days a week
- Mumbai to Chicago: Upto two flights are available, 6 days a week from 8 June
- Mumbai to Washington: One flight is available, 3 days a week
United Airlines also has multiple flights departing from both Delhi and Mumbai and destined for New York, Chicago, Washington, Miami, Houston, Detroit and other major cities.