Many families in the US see themselves parted from their beloved ones more than 13,000 km away over two continents as the Biden administration’s prohibition on travelers from India provided the unprecedented second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation has come into impact.
In certain cases, the chief breadwinner of the family has been left deserted in India, with no access to join their wives and kids in the US while in some other cases, mothers have been left from their young children as one of the unintended outcomes of the travel prohibition declared by President Joe Biden last week. The promulgation signed by Biden on April 30 came into impact on May 4.Several sections of students, academics, journalists, and individuals have been spared from the prohibition, according to the US State Department. The travel taboo is for an unlimited term given the significant disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Some of these people state that they are presently held in India for an uncertain period as the American consulates have also been closed down. “My husband who has been on H-1B since 2008 had to travel to India on April 17 to be with his dying father and to perform last rites. Since then, the US embassy in India has been closed. Although he has an authorized H-1B visa, he needs visa stamping on his passport and also to attend an in-person interview at the US mission in Delhi,” Neha Mahajan, co-founder of Skilled Immigrants in America, said.“I am here with our two daughters who miss their dad during this extremely hard time for the family in the middle of this pandemic,” she said.
Payal Raj based from Nashville said that she has no thought about when and how will she get back from India to be with her nine-year-old child. “The bans are specifically targeted towards non-immigrants and their families and looking at the history of other country’s bans, this could go on for months or even a year.“There are thousands of people held with heart-breaking tales of coming here to visit the dying parents and then getting stuck because of the prohibitions and not able to go back to their kids and spouses,” Raj told. Abhinav Amresh has been stranded in Mumbai away from his kids because the US Consulate in Mumbai has been closed down as a result of which he cannot obtain his H-1B visa stamped.
The next available date that he is now receiving is for September. Unless his visa is stamped, he cannot retort to the US. “The kids have never been away from their father for so long and the passing of their beloved grandmother and even their dad being away is already putting them under a lot of stress. My wife and I are primary caregivers for the kids and share all household responsibilities. Also, I am the main driver at home to bring groceries, take kids to their doctor (they have a visit and vaccination due), and all regular things,” Amresh said.
The entire condition is very stressful, he said. “My only question to the officials is despite the limitations in the travel taboo, there are many people like me with young US citizen kids who had to travel on family emergencies but do not have a valid visa stamping. This is a humanitarian crisis and child rights issue and if travel ban means visa ban then why not say so,” he said. Utkarsha Hazarnis, who has been in the US since 2013 and now deserted in India as his visa cannot be stamped because of the closure of the US consulate, forced the Biden administration to take effective measures for those who have jobs in the US and are now stuck in India.
“Active measures and alternatives should be worked on to help such cases,” he said. He had moved to India to see his sick father in Mumbai. Another Indian-American, who sued anonymity, said that she has no sign when the consulates would open. “We have no clue when this proclamation will end. We are not able to meet our families due to the fear of getting stuck over there in India. Of course, nobody is stopping us now, but we bought a house here. Our kids are studying here for five years… This is not an easy situation for us to handle,” she said.
Hemanth Modadugu was planned to travel to India for H-1B stamping and get married in May 2020. However, he had to cancel. He left the US for India in April. “I left Seattle on April 24. I reached Doha and within the next 10 minutes, I received an email that all visa appointments are canceled. I cannot return to the US without stamping. So, I continued my journey to India. Even if I had a hint of appointment cancellation while in the US, I would have tried to cancel my trip,” he said.
The latest travel constraints have been inflicted for an unlimited period and will need another presidential announcement to finish it. India is fighting with an unprecedented second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being recorded in the past week. According to Indian health ministry data on Wednesday, a record 3,780 fresh COVID-19 deaths were recorded in a single day in India, taking the death losses to 2,26,188, while 3,82,315 new coronavirus infections were reported. With the fresh cases, the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country escalated to 2,06,65,148.