Covid travels: Going to the US via Dubai to beat the ban

AircraftIndians have explored a dozen destinations for the mandatory quarantine before traveling to the US

Since President Joe Biden’s April 30 proclamation Covid travel restrictions barred the entry most visa holders from India, hundreds of Indians have beaten the ban by traveling via a dozen other countries to reach the US.

With no news about revocation of the proclamation anytime soon, many Indians are exploring alternate plans to reach the US. Here N Kumar, who is on H-1B visa and recently travelled from Hyderabad, India shares his experiences:

“I decided to fly via Dubai to the USA as soon as Dubai announced that it is open to Indian travelers. The reasons were easy accessibility along with no need to try to understand a new place as Dubai has been a transit destination for many Indians even during the pre-Covid times.

Read: Dubai is now open for Indians traveling to the US (September 8, 2021)

I arrived at the airport 6-7 hours in advance of my flight as I was advised by many fellow travelers and those who travelled in the past to expect a huge rush for the RT-PCR test. Well, I did find that to be true as I saw a long line at the RT-PCR test facility.

Except for the rush the process was smooth as all passengers had to fill a form with just some basic information. The result came within two hours. Remember you won’t be issued a boarding pass until the result comes back negative.

I saw a few elderly a bit hassled at not getting the boarding pass so this is the information you may want to pass on to your friends and family who are traveling.

Once you receive the test result you can go to the airline counter and collect your boarding pass. The short flight to Dubai was smooth, restful and thankfully uneventful.

Once I landed in Dubai, immigration was pretty much a straightforward process. I had a Dubai visitor visa that I got issued already and the officer verified my visa.

But unlike earlier times now you don’t just get out of the airport to your destination. The Covid times have made all processes lengthier and complicated so our next spot was the Covid testing station.

I must mention here that while in India one has to pay Rs. 4500 for the Covid test, at the Dubai airport Covid testing is done free of cost. It may help you if you already have a Dubai local number as they ask for a contact number.

Remember WhatsApp does not work in Dubai. If you are not carrying a contact number they ask you if you can share the number of any family or friend in Dubai.

Some fellow travelers shared having an Indian roaming number suffices too.  Once your swab is taken you are free to collect your bags. Remember to keep the negative RT-PCR report from India handy as you will be asked for it before you exit the airport.

Until the test report taken at the Dubai airport is shared with you, you are expected to stay in the hotel, apartment or your place of step. I got my report via SMS just a few hours after I checked in at the hotel.

Read: UAE decides to offer tourist visas to Indians, but there’s a catch. Details here (August 22, 2021)

Once the Covid test is negative you can go around and make the most of your stay in Dubai.

The US immigration has been aware of the process and there are no extra questions usually. They mostly ask for things like where you were for the past 14 days and where you are headed in America!

Happy Flying!”

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