An Indian immigrant living in New Jersey is now stuck in India as a second wave of COVID-19 ravages the country.
As cases of the virus surge in that country, many are traveling there to care for sick loved ones. This comes as the United States is about to impose restrictions on travel to and from India.
Neha Mahajan says that her husband Ashu traveled to India to care for his sick father.
“What India is going through is completely unimaginable at this point in time,” she says. “It is killing me. I haven’t slept. I have a lot of eye makeup on to hide my dark circles.”
Ashu’s father has since passed away from COVID-19, but now Ashu cannot return to the U.S.
“The consulates are closed and he needs the visa stamped on his passport via an in-person interview by the consulate that needs to happen. For that, the consulate needs to be open,” Mahajan says.
The Mahajans came to the U.S. 13 years ago on an H-1B work visa for specialty workers. Immigration attorney Min Kim says that this is not an unusual situation for documented immigrants, especially for those from countries hit hard by the pandemic.
“They want to visit, but turns out the timing of the visit is unfortunate and there’s an explosion of COVID and now the federal government acts without any due notice and these individuals are stuck,” Kim says.
Mahajan says that her husband had to travel for his family.
“I would make the same decision. It’s our parent. Nothing in the world can match to it. That’s our decision, I get that. But we shouldn’t be penalized for it,” she says. “We are immigrants in this country, giving our all to this country…the cost of the COVID situation, we are being penalized for it.”
The Mahajans have two daughters, ages 9 and 15. The family does get to video chat with Ashu multiple times a day.
Kim says that having patience is the family’s only option at this point. There are no timelines as to when the restrictions will be lifted.