Ohio couple stuck in India as COVID travel ban continues

Arhaq

The world continues to watch as India remains the epicenter for the pandemic.According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 3,800 people have died in India from COVID-19-related complications in the past 24 hours. In total, the country has reported more than 22 million confirmed COVID-19 cases which is larger than the entire state population in Florida.Last week, President Joe Biden issued a travel ban for India prohibiting travel for non-citizens or those who aren’t permanent residents. You can read about the specifics of the ban and exemptions in the link provided.Even as cases continue to climb, Indians living in the United States find themselves in an increasingly compounded emotional and logistical quagmire.This includes Ranjul Gupta. He and his pregnant wife consider Columbus home after moving there from India more than seven years ago on a work visa. Gupta says they recently bought a house to celebrate their growing family.According to 2019 Pew Research Center research, Gupta and his wife make up the more than four and a half million Indians living in America. Pew says more than half of this total population includes those who are not American citizens.In April, Gupta and his wife traveled back to India to care for his mom who was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the time, Gupta was vaccinated but his wife was not because she had just had her Johnson & Johnson appointment canceled due to the temporary national pause. Gupta says she has not been able to secure a new appointment in India because pregnant women are not encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Then the travel ban hit in early May. Gupta says because of their immigration status and lack of updated passport protocols, he and his wife are not allowed back into the states.”So it’s not us,” Gupta said through a Zoom call with eyes full of concern. Really a lot of hundreds of families like us are struggling to be able to process this thing. And if you look at it with the COVID situation alone, so she’s pregnant, and we are scared to go to a doctor’s because you don’t know what’s gonna happen.”Gupta says he and his wife do not have valid passport stamping. Under his work visa, they have to have a physical stamp allowing them to leave and return to the United States. Updates to the passports must happen in person or through a dropbox system at a U.S. Consulate which are currently closed due to the pandemic raging in India.Even as his family suffers from a recent COVID-19-related death, Gupta says he and his wife have no idea when they can return home to the United States.”People will be dying and you can’t do anything,” Gupta said with disbelief. “So it feels horrible. So nobody could imagine that something like this will happen. So this is pretty bad. And if you look at it the other way around, people are dying in India, and you have people in the U.S. whose families are dying, and they have a situation where they have to think before coming to India, and they need to think about whether they should come or should not come because if they come they may get stuck for six months or a year. They don’t know what’s gonna happen.”Gupta and others have taken to social media and online platforms to petition the Biden Administration to open consulates and amend the ban to allow non-citizens living in the U.S. on a work visa to return stateside while also following recommended testing and quarantine protocols. Back in Cincinnati, local nonprofits are working to raise awareness and resources to help those devastated in India.Sharonville-based nonprofit, A Child’s Hope International, recently wired $7,000 to a partnering Indian hospital in order to purchase critical medical supplies. ACHI says it plans on giving more once more donations come in. To donate, click here.Crossroads Church, which has longstanding partnerships in India, announced its plans to host a virtual prayer event for those suffering in India on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending may direct message Crossroads on social media for an invite link.

The world continues to watch as India remains the epicenter for the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 3,800 people have died in India from COVID-19-related complications in the past 24 hours. In total, the country has reported more than 22 million confirmed COVID-19 cases which is larger than the entire state population in Florida.

Last week, President Joe Biden issued a travel ban for India prohibiting travel for non-citizens or those who aren’t permanent residents. You can read about the specifics of the ban and exemptions in the link provided.

Even as cases continue to climb, Indians living in the United States find themselves in an increasingly compounded emotional and logistical quagmire.

This includes Ranjul Gupta. He and his pregnant wife consider Columbus home after moving there from India more than seven years ago on a work visa. Gupta says they recently bought a house to celebrate their growing family.

According to 2019 Pew Research Center research, Gupta and his wife make up the more than four and a half million Indians living in America. Pew says more than half of this total population includes those who are not American citizens.

In April, Gupta and his wife traveled back to India to care for his mom who was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the time, Gupta was vaccinated but his wife was not because she had just had her Johnson & Johnson appointment canceled due to the temporary national pause. Gupta says she has not been able to secure a new appointment in India because pregnant women are not encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Then the travel ban hit in early May. Gupta says because of their immigration status and lack of updated passport protocols, he and his wife are not allowed back into the states.

“So it’s not us,” Gupta said through a Zoom call with eyes full of concern. Really a lot of hundreds of families like us are struggling to be able to process this thing. And if you look at it with the COVID situation alone, so she’s pregnant, and we are scared to go to a doctor’s because you don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

Gupta says he and his wife do not have valid passport stamping. Under his work visa, they have to have a physical stamp allowing them to leave and return to the United States. Updates to the passports must happen in person or through a dropbox system at a U.S. Consulate which are currently closed due to the pandemic raging in India.

Even as his family suffers from a recent COVID-19-related death, Gupta says he and his wife have no idea when they can return home to the United States.

“People will be dying and you can’t do anything,” Gupta said with disbelief. “So it feels horrible. So nobody could imagine that something like this will happen. So this is pretty bad. And if you look at it the other way around, people are dying in India, and you have people in the U.S. whose families are dying, and they have a situation where they have to think before coming to India, and they need to think about whether they should come or should not come because if they come they may get stuck for six months or a year. They don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

Gupta and others have taken to social media and online platforms to petition the Biden Administration to open consulates and amend the ban to allow non-citizens living in the U.S. on a work visa to return stateside while also following recommended testing and quarantine protocols.

Back in Cincinnati, local nonprofits are working to raise awareness and resources to help those devastated in India.

Sharonville-based nonprofit, A Child’s Hope International, recently wired $7,000 to a partnering Indian hospital in order to purchase critical medical supplies. ACHI says it plans on giving more once more donations come in. To donate, click here.

Crossroads Church, which has longstanding partnerships in India, announced its plans to host a virtual prayer event for those suffering in India on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending may direct message Crossroads on social media for an invite link.

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