With travel restrictions set to end, Indians gear up for a post-Diwali US visits

As soon as the White House announced that fully vaccinated travelers from 33 countries, including India, can visit the US, many Indians are planning their long overdue visits

Members of the Prasad family in Noida, just outside of New Delhi, have been planning a long-overdue visit to the United States for some time. They have been patiently waiting for the Covid-related travel restrictions to end so that the family matriarch, 72-year-old Renu Prasad, can go and stay with her eldest son in Florida.

“I used to spend 5-6 months in the US every year with my eldest son, who is based in Tampa, Florida,” she told The American Bazaar. “But Covid totally upended our schedules. I haven’t visited the US for two years now. During this time many of my friends suggested taking an alternate third country route but I decided to wait, as the travel would have been too arduous and expensive. I am fully vaccinated [now] and want to be reunited with my family. This is so long overdue.”

Read: With US easing travel restrictions, Indians worried about cancellations (September 22, 2021)

Travel agents confirmed that there have already been a huge interest and enquiries about travel from India to the US, as many have been expecting the restrictions to be lifted before the year end. “There are already a lot of tentative ticket requests for post Diwali travel,” said Badrinath Singh,” a Delhi-based travel and tour operator.

While many families are looking at meeting their relatives in the US soon after the festivities are over in India, some others are not yet ready to travel yet.

Mumbai-based Bhatnagar family is among those who are willing to wait.

“My sister is in the US, and now that the US is back open, she has been asking us to come as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted,” said Prachi Bhatnagar. “However I am wary of traveling during the festival rush. Soon after Diwali a lot of Indians may feel free and plan their travel. And not to forget the post-Diwali the holiday season will be in full bloom in the US, too, with travelers flying across the country for Thanksgiving. I do not feel that the time is appropriate for leisure travel as it is these festive rushes that can trigger an increase in Covid again. We have postponed all our US travel plans until early next year.”

But with the possibility of direct travel to the US now becoming a reality, many Indians are definitely turning their conversations around travel dates. However, there still remain many questions that are unanswered. The White House has said that only fully vaccinated travelers can enter the US. There is a lack of clarity about children intending to travel along with vaccinated parents. As there are yet no approved vaccines for under 18 in India, it leaves the younger lot still unvaccinated and unable to travel.

Read: Covid travels: Going to the US via Dubai to beat the ban (September 21, 2021)

Immigration lawyer Nishith Shah advises travelers to wait until clear guidelines are announced, and not rush into making any travel arrangements.

So, while some in India await the final directives, many are heaving a sigh of relief on the long awaited travel restrictions coming to an end.

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