Visa extensions fail to bring relief

COVID-19 International

With almost the entire world under a lockdown, India and US have decided to bring some relief to the people holding expired or about to expire visas but many have their application hanging midway due to the embassies closing down.

By Labani Mahanandy

India decided to extend the validity of expired or about to expire visas of estranged foreign nationals in the country till April 30. This step was taken to provide some relief to foreigners stuck in the country in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 epidemic.

However, those whose applications are in process are still in limbo. Many of them took to twitter to express their grievances.

Akshay twitted, “Humble request on behalf of hundreds of Indians, US visa holders are stranded and are unable to complete their visa stamping due to cancellation of visa appointment by the closure of US embassy/ consulate all over India.”

Sukanya Chandrashekhar twitted, “Due to work commitments, my husband is in USA and I am here can’t even travel because stamping is pending. Requesting to consider extending dropbox and visa appointments and help people to with valid visa to travel back to respective countries please.”

US government has also decided to accept the H-1B visa application to extend the stay of Indian nationals stranded on US soil.

Ramesh Babu a resident of USA, twitted, “I have come to India for H-1B visa stamping. My wife and six years old child are in USA. Consulate approved my visa. However, processing of that decision and delivery of visa has paused due to lockdown. I am stuck in India.”

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) website mentioned in a new notification, “The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that there are immigration related challenges as a direct result of Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”

Saptaparni Ghosh, a student of Iowa State University said, “US government is granting extensions for visas that are expired or is expiring soon for people holding H-1B visas in the country and who can’t go back. I am here on student visa and I don’t know about my visa. They haven’t said anything yet.”

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables US companies to recruit foreign employees in specialized positions requiring theoretical or technological skills. Basically, the firms dealing with technology are dependent on it for recruiting almost tens of thousands of workers from countries like India and China every year.

However, the website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India has mentioned that, “The U.S. Mission-India is facilitating a series of flights to the United States this week. We do not know if U.S. government-organized flights returning to the United States will continue after this week.”

Earlier this week in a media briefing in Washington DC Ian Brownlee, State Department official said, “We had multiple thousands who, when we put – in India when we put the call out for expressions of interest in a flight, and yet over this weekend, our staff in India literally cold-called 800 people asking if they wanted to get on a flight today. We got 10 positive responses.”

He added that there are 24000 American nationals in India.

Recently, Australia took its 444 citizens in a special flight from Delhi to Melbourne. United Kingdom is under complete lockdown and UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of COVID-19.

Indian Nationals in the UK, whose visa is due or has already, expired, and who is unable to leave due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, will be treated as an over-stay, or might suffer some detriment in future.

Image Credits: Pixabay


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