Little hope for unstamped H-1B, other visa holders stranded in India

US visa

The State Department unable to say when U.S. missions in India will reopen to stamp passports.

There is little hope for the early return of more than a thousand unstamped H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa holders stranded in India with no official word on the reopening of U.S. missions there.

“Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time,” U.S. State Department told the American Bazaar in response to a query on the plight of such visa holders stuck in India because of the Covid lockdown.

“Each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications,” a spokesperson of the State Department responded via email.

As the American Bazaar reported on Wednesday, more than 1,000 Indian nationals are awaiting their visa renewals, most of them H-1B holders. They cannot come back to the United States until their renewed visas are stamped on their passports.

Many of these individuals stuck in visa limbo have family emergencies back in the United States, such as pregnant spouses, sick family members and young children needing medical care.

They have urged the U.S. government to allow them to come back to the country on humanitarian grounds.

RELATED: More than 1,000 unstamped H-1B, other nonimmigrant visa holders stranded in India (May 19, 2020)

“We encourage applicants to consult with the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate in order to confirm the level of services currently offered,” the State Department spokesperson wrote.

“Although Department employees have been working remotely all along, consular resources and local government restrictions vary widely, and each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during this worldwide pandemic.”

The United States Embassy in New Delhi and the country’s four missions in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad have been closed since March 16 because of covid-19.

Immigration experts and some of the stranded visa holders have pointed out that the United States government could potentially repatriate those stuck in India through one of the two provisions: “automatic visa revalidation” and a “humanitarian parole.”

The former is mostly used by nonimmigrants to re-enter the United States after their visa expires, if they visit Canada, Mexico or territories close to the U.S. for a period of less than 30 days. Humanitarian parole is granted to nonimmigrants who have “urgent humanitarian reason.”

Asked whether the Department would consider one of these two options, given the gravity of the situation for many of those stranded, the State Department spokesperson said it is the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DHS has not responded to a request for comment.

Two visa holders who are currently in India and desperately trying to come back to the United States said they reached out to U.S. missions in Delhi and Mumbai but were “unable to secure an emergency appointment for an interview as the guidelines for these appointments only cover death and life-threatening illness.”

Both Mili Khatter and Poorva Dixit went to see their ailing mothers, leaving behind their young children in the United States.

ALSO READ: With the economy in tailspin, H-1B visa holders living in fear (May 20, 2020)

Khatter, a mother of two kids, has a seven-year-old daughter with Type 1 diabetes. Dixit, who works for a San Francisco technology company, has two girls, ages six and three, in the United States. Both women lost their mothers.

“We request the [Department of State], to please consider the ‘reunification with a minor child’ also as a basis for scheduling an emergency appointment,” they said in a joint statement.

Another person who is seeking a humanitarian intervention is Dallas Zaheer Iqbal (name changed at his request). His wife gave birth to their first child at a Dallas area hospital on May 14. An H4 visa holder and stay-at-home spouse, who does not drive, she is struggling to take care of her new born, without any assistance.

Iqbal is currently waiting for his renewed visa after being placed in a category called “administrative processing,” which requires additional background and security checks that takes anywhere from four weeks to several months.

However, these aren’t the only issues plaguing these individuals waiting for the U.S. missions to reopen. While several of those awaiting their visas have family emergencies, most of them are worried about their job security and financial well-being at a time of great uncertainty.

RELATED: American Bazaar’s Covid-19 coverage

So far 26 people who are awaiting their visa renewals have lost their jobs. Only a fraction of the more than one thousand people currently in India are able to work remotely.

Some 85 percent of stranded visa holders are either homeowners, or have rental properties, meaning that despite job loss and the inability to work, most of them still have to make monthly payments without receiving a paycheck.

While the majority of them still have their jobs, the uncertainty of if or when that will change is always there for these H-1B visa holders.

“Although we anticipate every day for a speedy recovery from the pandemic, the rising case numbers depict a grim future,” said Rajiv Mehta, another H-1B visa holder who is currently stranded in India.

“We are okay to live with the SARS-CoV-2 but with our family, jobs, and education. We hope that the Department of State and the US missions also show empathy for cases beyond the ‘reunification’ classification. Such as work emergencies or completion of studies,” said Ajay Kumar, who works for a firm in Duluth, Georgia.

Of the more than 1,000 visa holders trying to get back to the U.S., 57 percent are working in the tech industry. A fifth of them are dependents on H4 visas.

The remaining H-1B visa holders include lawyers, healthcare workers, scientists, architects, students, and those employed in the financial sector.

29 Comments

  1. I was told that J1 VIsa research scholar are expempted…so waiting for the US Embassy to open.

  2. Guys, I’ve created a telegram group, to discuss everything Visa related. We can share information,and help each other.
    You can add me on telegram and I’ll add you to the group.
    Telegram ID : TheDarkNight87

  3. Soma bhowal nandy

    Plz reopen us embassy for F1 visa .. Its a huge matter of my daughter’s carrier ..

  4. Waiting for the consulate to reopen soon . Got married on 21 st Feb 2019 , cr1 application was in process was at the last stage of interview and this happened. Husband is in USA , facing emotional and mental hardship . Please request to resume the interview service by the consulates in India.

  5. As of Jun2020 I am currently in US and want to travel India as soon as possible for a major surgery (cant do this surgery in US as I need a donor who is currently living in India and who cannot travel abroad). While coming back to US I need my H1b visa stamped since my current H1b is expiring in 6 months. I have a wife and toddler living in US, my employer doesn’t let me work from India at all. So PRAYING for consulate to open SOON…

  6. I read so many comments where i felt i am in the same boat. I came to India in feb 2020 on valid I539 and unable to get valid H4 visa stamp before lockdown. Currently I am in India with my 2 US citizen kids and my husband is in US. Please include me in the whats app group if it has started. If anyone can help in anyway will be greatly appreciated.
    My email add is knb1982@yahoo.com

  7. Hello all., I came to india during the month of Feb., 2020 for H1b stamping. Yesterday,My employer( U.S University) gave me notice that non renewal of my Post doc job , due to lack of funding and said my employment willbe terminated effective 60 days from the date of letter i.e 19th june 2020. what does it mean ! Still I am in employment with the same employer on H1B visa upto 2 months! if US consulates in india reopens in july, is there any problem for stamping with the same employer ! Please advice me.

  8. Hi, we are also stuck with family as we came in March. Our US paycheck can be stopped any moment. I have a rented house, car on loan, house hold stuff. Request to DHS to allow us with approved petition to go back to US. It’s a very horrible situation for us. Please help please help.

  9. I’m also stranded in India since 6 months. At first, in December stuck due to “administrative processing” later by March 4th 2020 both my husband’s H1 B and my H4 are approved. On March 16th our passports status showed ready for pickup and then on March 18th by the time we went to pick them up the status changed to sent to post and now it shows no status for the passport numbers. I’m confused with all this bullshit. We are paying for a rented property in the US since 6 months. If any WhatsApp or telegram groups please share the details.

    • any one please share WhatsApp groups details. My wife and son struck in india from last 6 months. visa got approved but stamping is pending.

  10. Laura K Patidar

    I am an American stuck in India for 3 months with my Husband. We are waiting for his Visa interview at the consulate and India is allowing repatriation flights for citizens AND THEIR SPOUSES! I dont understand why the embassy is not taking interviews on these cases and processing them to completion. It’s not fair!

  11. I would like to get in what’s app group if any. I am Stranded with daughter in India waiting for h4 renewal and Husband is in USA. It’s high time now

    • Nivethitha Vallal

      We are in the boat .. please share the link if the what’s app group already created ..

    • Leela Rani

      I am also in the same boat. My biometrics for H4 renewal was completed on Feb 24th. And interview was scheduled on April 13th. My daughter Husband are in US. Becos of Lockdown it was cancelled. Please add me also in Whatsapp group if there is any.

  12. I would like to get added to whatsapp groups (if any) for further details and communication. Please share the details of whatsapp group.

    • Abhishek Neogi

      Can somebody please provide whatsapp group ? I am on same boat. Desperately trying to go back.

    • Please get me in what’s app group if any worried with same situation. Desperately waiting to get embassies reopen want to renew h4 of myself n daughter. Husband in USA

      • Sakshi Shah

        Hi Sayali,
        I am in the same situation. Desperately waiting for embassy reopen to get my H4 visa stamping bdone. I am stranded in India with my 7 month old daughter, she is a US citizen and my husband is in US. Could you please let me know if you get any update regarding embassy or any whatsapp group to join. I would really appreciate your help.

    • Please share any WhatsApp group or if anybody comes to know about the consulate opening dates. My husband and two young kids are in US and I am here alone. I have approval notice but visa stamping is pending (drop box). Emergency slots or open but not regular ones.

  13. I also got stranded in India as I came to India because of my mother’s demise. My two kids are in US and my younger one is just 5. My drop box appointment just got cancelled two days prior to the appointment. I am awaiting any positive news since then with my kids daily asking me when I will take the flight. It will be good if they provide any tentative date or allow people in my condition on humanitarian grounds.

  14. +1 on the automatic visa validation at the port of entry. After getting an approval notice from USCIS why is there another stage called ‘stamping’. Why can’t they do this at the port of entry? Of course if there was something that should be background checked, they could send individuals back. Individuals can take this risk or wait until consulates open.

    • Hi, we are in the same situation. Could you guys please share any WhatsApp group details to join or if any updates on consulate opening dates.
      Thanks

  15. I have h1 b stamping done but stuck in india because of lock down. Trying to return usa through reparation flight. Will there be any issue for reentry. Its almost 5 months

    • no you wont have any issue, one of my coworker just returned from Mumbai via Air India flight and he was there for 4 months.

  16. Thank you Feras Ismail for taking concern to post on this. This really helps making the government know that this is a big issue to consider. Parents stuck without kids should really be considered as they have approved petition and are stuck only for stamping. If anyone knows the telegram or whatsapp group, please do let me know on eragnow@gmail.com.

  17. Your name explains your thought process B.S (Bullshit)

  18. B. S. (Babubhai Sardarji) Patel

    Stay there and work for you own country, you idiots. Do somehting for birth country mother idia. She gaves you birth and fed you up till you’re grown up and educated you also no? Shame, shame on you people so unthankful and selfish always thinking of own gain. Stay there, WORK!! Don’t come back, don’t want you fools here.

    • Then why are you using technology and products imported from other countries? If you hate the Indians working abroad doing stuff for another country, you should also stop buying imports, goods, services, education of any kind from anywhere outside your home country.

      Listen you ignorant fuck, the world relies on everyone’s effort from everywhere in the world. National pride is important, but not keeping an open mind and dismissing all contributions from outside is borderline dumb. People will work wherever they want to. It’s not your right to dictate what people do with their lives.

      Instead of showcasing hatred to the ones in the article who are separated from their loved ones, show some empathy and humanity instead. It is good for your soul to be helpful and kind during the pandemic when yet again everyone’s contributions are needed more than ever (regardless of nationality, race, religion or caste)

      • Babubhai Sardarji ka baap

        Abbey listen theri maa ki gaand mein haati ka lund, jai barat mahahahahahan. Vandy matarchut.

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