With husband away, wife risks losing her job and his son is missing doctors’ appointments.
When P.P. [name withheld upon request] an IT professional working in the US on an H-1B visa received the news of his father’s death in India this April, he had no option but to return to India to attend to his grieving family.
However, the professional who has been living in the US for 11 years now had no idea that his emergency travel would leave him stranded. Today as he awaits opening of consulate services in India, his wife and two children are awaiting his return with no clear date in sight.
P.P. is among hundreds of Indian professionals living on work-based visas in the US who are currently left stranded in India due to President Biden’s sudden travel restrictions.
As the Covid situation in India worsened, many countries including the UK and Australia banned travelers from India. While the US joined the list a bit later, US citizens, green card and F1 student visa holders traveling from India to the US were exempted.
This partial restriction left many separated from their families as they needed either visa stamping or were ineligible to travel to the US for the time being.
Relating his story, P.P. tells the American Bazaar, “I first came to the United States in 2010 on H-1B employment visa and I’ve been resident of the USA for the past 11 years. I also have an approved immigration petition.”
“I had to travel to India due to a family emergency as my father expired in April. I had to leave my family behind in the USA,” he says about his travel to India which has now left the family stranded.
A timeline and history of H-4 EAD (January 27, 2021)
His family, P.P. says, “includes my spouse and two children including a newborn baby. Both my children are US Citizens, and my spouse is a first responder who joins a hospital in the Midwest as a physician on July 1 on H-4 EAD for spouses.”
“As my spouse’s work status depends on my visa, If I don’t return sooner, it will jeopardize her work status as well as my employment.”
Not just this, he had other family matters to attend to in the US. “My younger child is due for his one-year physical exam and his vaccine. He had to be hospitalized in January after being diagnosed with low calcium and vitamin D levels,
Since then, he is being followed by pediatric endocrinology for weekly monitoring of low calcium and low vitamin D levels. He is currently taking oral calcium and vitamin D supplements daily.
“My spouse doesn’t drive either. So, she couldn’t manage taking my son to the pediatrician for the follow-ups,” P.P. says.
“I’m on H1B and have been stranded in India. In order for me to return to the US and get united with my family, I’d have to get a visa stamped. I’m unable to book an emergency appointment as I qualify for dropbox,” he says.
“My kids are asking every day, when I will return home and asking why am I stuck here as they don’t understand all these. Now I’ve no idea when I will be able to return to the USA and unite with my family.”
“I don’t know what else to do other than waiting for the positive news,” P.P. signs off sadly.
(This post has been updated.)
US restricts travel from India; H-1B, L1 holders most affected (April 30, 2021)
US asks Americans to leave India amid Covid surge (April 29, 2021)
Indian Americans concerned about travel to Covid hit India (April 26, 2021)