Ever since the news of travel ban being lifted broke, a lot of Indians have been preparing for a trip back home from the US.
While the ban being lifted is great news for all of us, there are still a good amount of protocols and requirements that need to be followed before you undertake the happy journey back home to reunite with your families.
Before we get into the specifics of travel, let us first talk about the most important factor that determines our travel – visa.
In the past 2 years, since the pandemic, most of us have renewed our Visas from within the US itself. That means that if we leave the country, we’ll have to get our passports stamped to return to the US. And that’s where the problem lies. US embassies in India are still not fully operational because of which, getting visa appointments has become incredibly difficult.
In December last year, the US embassies have tried to beat this issue by expanding the eligibility for Dropbox which waives appearing for in-person Interviews at the embassy.
The eligibility criteria for the same and more in-depth details about it can be find in this Guide here.
Of course, those who have their passports already stamped, can easily travel and return. So can all those with a Green Card of course.
Earlier, all international travelers, irrespective of whether they had Covid-19 symptoms, were supposed to remain in quarantine for seven days, get tested on the eighth, and upload the report to the government’s Air Suvidha portal.
Those travelling from at-risk countries – a dynamic list of countries depending on their Covid-19 situation – had to not only submit a negative Covid-19 report from 72 hours prior to travel, they also needed to get tested on arrival and wait for the reports before leaving the airport.
New Guidelines issued on February 10 by the Government of India
International travelers will no longer need to quarantine for seven days or get tested at the airport if they come from an at-risk country, according to the revised guidelines issued by the union health ministry on Thursday. With the omicron variant-driven wave subsiding in the country, the government has also done away with a repeat test on day 8 of arrival.
Now they have to monitor their health for a period of 14 days and report any Covid-19 like symptoms either to the nearest health facility or the government helpline 1075.
The government has also removed the categorization of at-risk countries.
Now, only 2% of the passengers selected at random will have to give their samples for testing. They will be allowed to leave the airport without waiting for the reports, according to the new guidelines.
The Centre has revised its advisory for international passengers as the Covid-19 situation in the country eases, allowing some international travelers from some select countries to upload the certificate of full vaccination. Passengers coming from these countries can either upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report, the test being conducted within 72 hours prior to the journey, or they can upload their vaccination certificate.
The list includes all major countries such as US, UK, Australia, Canada and more. The complete list can be found in this article
These Guidelines will come into effect from February 14, 2022
Those interested in reading the exact circular, below are the images of the same.
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How does the Air Suvidha portal work?
Those travelling to India right now, need to compulsorily fill the Air Suvidha form available on the Delhi airport website.
The form has multiple fields and is mostly self-explanatory.
You need to make sure that every person who is travelling, has filled this form. If you are travelling with your spouse, there is an option to add more passengers at the end of
your form. It will again ask for the same details that you’ve filled for yourself.
Below are the details that you’ll need to keep handy before you start filling out the form.
Seat Number – You can keep this is NA if you haven’t checked in.
Soft Copy of your passport in PDF format to upload on the portal
Date of Arrival
Country of Departure
Whether you’re taking a connecting domestic flight after you land in India (and it’s details)
Soft copy of your RT_PCR Negative report to be uploaded
Soft copy of your vaccination certificate to be uploaded
Your city of departure
Final Destination details
Travel history in the past 14 days
Once you’ve filled the form and submitted it, you will get an email with the Air Suvidha form attached. Please take a printout of the form before you travel.
Airport authorities will ask you for a hard copy of the form.
Documents Needed for Travel
Below are all the documents you will need to travel to India:
Printout of Air Suvidha form for all passengers travelling
Printout of Negative COVID test for all passengers or
Your vaccination certificate / card. Printout not needed. But there’s no harm in having one
Your Visa documents for your stamping and re-entry to the US
Your Passport of course
All airports have multiple safety precautions in place. But it is up to us to maintain distance with others, wear a mask and follow the rules.
Due to COVID precautions being enforced at airports, please reach your airports at least 3 hours before your flight. You never know how long your bag drop or security may take these days. Since, the ban is lifted, more and more people are flying and the COVID restrictions at airport are still the same, which leads to some bottlenecks.
Other than that,
Safe Travels and a Happy Journey