Thousands Of H1B, H4 Workers Stuck In India, Can’t Reach US Due To Travel Restrictions

President Joe Biden’s decision to ban most travel from India as the country’s health system fails due to a surge in coronavirus cases has come at a cost to the millions of Indian immigrants who have made their homes in the United States.

The ban, which also went into effect on May 4, is similar to those imposed on travellers from other countries, including China and the UK.

Travel Ban Has Left Indians Stranded
The Story Of Payal Raj And Several Other Indians
Payal Raj travelled to India with her family in early April to renew their visas to stay in the United States. She and her husband waited until they had been vaccinated before properly arranging their documentation following their immigration lawyers’ recommendations.

However, the visa would leave her stranded in India indefinitely, cutting her off from her husband and daughter in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

“Our family is in a crisis,” said Raj, who is one of the thousands of immigrants stuck in India, in part because the Biden administration’s restrictions on most travels from the country mean that temporary visa holders are explicitly barred from reentering the United States.

Raj and thousands like her are unable to return to their homes, families, and careers in the United States because of the restrictions, which were imposed in the wake of a disastrous rise in coronavirus infections in India in recent weeks.

The story of Denisha is also like Raj, who is an H-1B visa holder, who came to the United States a decade ago and has since lived in Boston.

Her application to renew her visa, which expires is delayed due to the pandemic, and she compelled to return to Mumbai.

She also needs a stamp on her visa from a US Consulate official to return, but that won’t happen for the time being.

“I came to Mumbai with two suitcases,” she said. “Everything is in Boston. I have an apartment with all my belongings, a car that I just purchased a year and a half ago. I have loans and have rent. If I lose this job, there’s no way for me to go back and I don’t know what to do with all of that. I am cut off from my life.”

The White House did not respond to questions about the restrictions on travel from India, but a State Department representative described them as “appropriate public health measures” that are “critical” to defeating the coronavirus.

Non-immigrant Visaholders Stuck In India
A petition urging US President Joe Biden to “allow non-immigrant visa holders stuck in India to return to the United States”

It has gained widespread support from not just non-immigrant visa holders in India, but also a huge number of their family members and relatives in the United States from whom they had been separated.

The petition started earlier this month, having signatures of more than 7,200 on Wednesday.

It has made an “urgent request” to the “US consulates to consider deploying contingency non-immigrant visa services for work-visa holders, and their dependents to review and accommodate the massive application backlog. Provisions such as mail-in processing of non-immigrant visas and/or virtual interview appointments may be a way to expedite this process”.

“Allow a conditional travel ban exemption for non-immigrant (H1B/H4/L1/L2) visa holders with an approved and valid petition from USCIS, with mandatory provisions of a negative RT-PCR test, 14-day quarantine and vaccination proof etc. that have already been extended to international students, green card holders, and U.S. citizens travelling from India at present,” the petition has requested