Friday, June 18, 2021

Faced with travel ban, parents of US-bound Indian students prepare to say goodbye at the airport

Last week, US minister counsellor for consular affairs Don Heflin announced the opening up of student visa appointments in India for those planning to join US universities in the Fall 2021 term. But along with that announcement, he added that parents of students who wanted to accompany them to the country on a visitors’ visas would not be granted visa interviews or be allowed to travel at present.

Tourist travel to the US from India remains prohibited under the proclamation by President Joe Biden which came into effect on May 4, 2021, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in India. The national interest exception, under which some categories of non-immigrant visa holders are being allowed to enter the US, will not be granted to parents of Indian students, Heflin clarified.

Several parents of Indian students who are now applying for US student visa interviews are worried and disappointed. Delhi-based Harmeet Gujral is anxious ever since she found out that she couldn’t travel to the country with her son, who is joining an undergrad course at University of California San Diego.

"I was planning to travel with my son to help settle him in at the university hostel. He is just 17 and has never been away from home. We don’t have any close family in California who can help him when he gets there either," she told "This pandemic situation is now very worrying for my family and I, and I’m wondering when I’ll be able to meet my son again after he leaves for the US to join university."

Nivedita Gupta (name changed upon request), too, is disappointed that she cannot accompany her daughter to the US and be a part of the commencement and induction experience at the university. "I have no doubt that my daughter, who is joining an undergrad course at the University of Southern California, will be able to manage on her own. But I would have liked to have been there with her during this important chapter in her life," Gupta said. "It will be very disappointing to say goodbye at the airport in Mumbai."

While many of her friends are facing a similar situation, those who are US citizens can travel with their sons and daughters. And that seems a bit unfair to her.

Gandharv (surname withheld upon request), is joining California's Stanford University for a master’s course. Although he and his parents are disappointed that they will not be able to travel together, they hope that they can visit him later this year or during the summer next year as the pandemic situation in India improves.

Indian students going to study in the US are often accompanied by their parents and siblings during commencement. Family visits are also planned during graduation ceremonies. The US embassy's announcement of not waiving the travel ban for parents has, hence, come as a disappointment. "There is greater concern among parents of students joining undergraduate courses in the US because they are very young. Culturally, Indian families are protective and close-knit. Hence, this has become an issue," said Sumeet Jain, co-founder of overseas education consultancy Yocket.

18/06/21 Ishani Duttagupta/Times of India

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment