Indian Americans concerned about travel to Covid hit India

Many look at rescheduling family visits amid mounting fears about cancellation of flights from India.

It’s a déjà vu moment of the worst kind for many Indian Americans. Just as things are beginning to open up in the US after vaccination and gradual reduction in cases, India faces a Covid crisis of an unprecedented scale.

News coming out of India is both concerning and depressing. With many in big cities unable to find basic medical facilities, relatives and friends in America are left on tenterhooks.

But as the situation worsens in India once again,  for many Indian Americans as well as those on work visas in the US, the concern about their visiting relatives grows.

Milpitas, California based Tina Sharma is in a state of fix about the soon expiring visa of her visiting parents.

She says, “My parents were all set to travel back to India next month. With the situation improving both in India and America recently. we had planned their travel accordingly. We did not see this sudden spurt coming up in India at all.”

“Now the problem is that while we do not want them to risk the travel right now, their visa is expiring later next month,” Sharma says. “We are looking at getting an extension but are concerned if this would arrive in time.”

Many others are unsure for how long should they apply the extension for.

Long Island, New York based Tripti Shah says, “This pandemic has been going on for a year now, right now we are applying an extension for a month for my visiting parents but I scarcely think that the situation would get better.”

“The problem is that we cannot ask for an indefinite extension. These are trying times for us all.”

Another worry that some of the Indians settled in America right now have is about the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards for their US born kids.

As renewing the OCI cards takes some time, many are worried about travel to India in an emergency. A few like Atlanta based Amit Sharma are considering applying for a OCI renewal for their kid already.

He says, “It’s a catch-22 situation. While logically one would not want to travel to India given the magnitude of the problem but one fears what if one needs to travel in a worst case scenario.”

However, a new rule allowing travel to India with an existing OCI until December 2021, comes as some relief to many.

The massive second Covid wave has also forced some Indians to cancel plans to travel to India this summer to visit their families.

“We are calling the airlines to ask for rescheduling of our tickets but again the worry remains if it is likely that we can foresee a trip even sometime this year.”

Amidst all this, there is a genuine concern amongst many if like the UK, US too would cancel flights coming from India.

Some Indians who were planning to visit India and had an impending visa stamping have seen their plans derailed with Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai consulates putting all visa processes on hold.

New Jersey based Deepa K Sivarajan says that she got an email from the US Consulate in Chennai informing her that the scheduled visa interview appointment had been cancelled.

The letter also informs that any walk-in applicants would be turned away and additional appointment slots would be added when possible.

Those calling the airlines to reschedule tickets for May say there is an absolute chaos with no one knowing what may come next.

“We are holding on to our tickets, but as of now we have no idea what the future travel to India looks like,” says Nitin Ahuja of Illinois.

 

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