Indian H-1B, L1 visa holders find alternate ways to come to America beating Covid travel ban.
When Mahesh Sharma (name changed) found himself unexpectedly stuck in India, after he had gone to attend to an emergency, he was at his wits’ end on how to return to his family in the United States.
President Joe Biden’s proclamation barring entry of travelers from India due to a second wave of Covid outbreak in India left many like him trapped in India.
Amid anxiety and confusion, Sharma thought of an alternate plan of going to the United States via Mexico. Taking a long connecting flight, he reached Mexico City.
Entering Mexico with a valid US work visa (H1-B) he was given a visa on arrival in Mexico, which was valid for six months. After spending 15 days in Mexico, Sharma flew to the US. He was asked no questions at the US immigration and the entire process was smooth.
As per current international traveling protocols, he had to get an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours of departure from Delhi and again before departure from Mexico.
As the Covid situation in India escalated to an all-time high in early April, US followed a few other countries in temporarily barring the entry of visitors from India to the United States.
While the US made a few exceptions for American citizens, permanent residents and students among others, many Indians on work-based visas who have been living in the US for decades were left out.
Many Indians on work visas are unhappy that just because they are in the process of getting permanent residency in America, they have been barred unlike those with green cards.
Ever since a possible way to travel to the US via a neighboring country like Mexico has been highlighted, a few others are considering this route too.
Another Indian on an H-1B visa, currently attending to his parents in India says, “I may consider flying via Cancun in Mexico if this travel ban is not lifted.”
A few others are also trying to find travelers taking a similar route and get connected during their journey both for company and support during this unusual way to get home to America.
Mexico has been an obvious choice for many, as at the Mexican port of entry, a valid US visa gets you a visa on arrival valid for up to six months.
For some the 14-day quarantine period comes as a respite as after traveling from India and the stress of the situation. This can serve as a way to relax, say many who are considering the route not just for them but also for their parents planning to visit the US.
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)