Speculations rife after State Department changes travel health notice for India from Level 4 to Level 3
Ohio-based IT analyst Sumit Kumar made an urgent phone call this week to his hometown in Haryana, India, to ask his parents to postpone booking their tickets to the US via Cancun.
Kumar says he took the decision after the US State Department in its new travel advisory changed the travel health notice for India from Level 4 to Level 3.
“I am hopeful that within the next 1-3 months the travel restriction from India to the US will be lifted and elderly like my parents will be able to travel directly and not via the cumbersome way of visiting a third country and spending a fortnight in a new place.”
Dropping India to Level 3 means that now the State Department only asks the US citizens to reconsider before traveling to India unlike earlier Level 4 which urges citizens not to travel to that country.
Within minutes of this new advisory travel portals and immigration groups began discussing the possibilities of a likely normalized travel.
Speculations are rife that the travel restrictions may come down within the next three months.
However, Carmel, Indiana based Sneha S. is still going ahead and considering a possible third country travel for her parents.
“The situation is so rapidly changing, who knows what may happen in a few days,” she says. “India, we are hearing, is getting ready to cope up with a third wave. I can’t take any chances and want my parents to be with me.”
Indian Americans are praying that the third Covid wave does not hit India because that may likely upset any travel possibilities further.
For the past year and a half most Indians living and working in the US have faced some kind of family separation owing to pandemic related travel restrictions.
After the second wave hit India earlier this year, US put travel restrictions for certain visa holders traveling directly from India with a presidential proclamation.
The restriction has prevented many work visa holders on a visit to India to come back to the US and has made the travel of relatives or family on B1/B2 visa nearly impossible.
While families have been devising ways such as seeking National Interest Exception or flying their parents through a third country, the last two updates on travel from India to US have raised hopes.
It has come across as a good indicator that future travel may likely be easier for thousands of Indians anxious about the prospects of getting their families to be with them in the US.
President Joe Biden Thursday said that Washington is reviewing when it can lift restrictions barring most non-US citizens from traveling to the country. Airlines too have urged the administration to lift the restrictions.
While on ground the situation still remains the same with no plausible answer to when travel could be restored, for now many Indians in America are willing to wait and watch.