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Coronavirus: Indian parents bring stranded kids back to Dubai via US

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on August 5, 2020 | Last updated on August 5, 2020 at 06.17 am
Coronavirus, Indian parents, stranded kids, back to Dubai, US

(Supplied photos)

Parents are running out of options and are now taking "drastic measures" to be reunited with their kids.

With India offering no clarity on whether visit visa holders are allowed to travel to the UAE, desperate residents are opting for longer and complicated routes to fly their loved ones to the country. Some parents are sending their children stranded in India to the US so they can travel to the UAE.

The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor on Monday had told Khaleej Times that the Indian government is yet to decide whether to allow its citizens to travel on visit visas.

Parents are running out of options and are now taking "drastic measures" to be reunited with their kids.

Sahad Sattar, a Dubai resident, said his two teenage sons were stranded in the south Indian state of Kerala since March. They undertook a 46-hour journey from Calicut to Delhi and Chicago before flying to Dubai.

Inspired by this, more parents are opting for the route.

Dr Nita Salam, an administrator for online initiative #takemetomom - a group that was formed by over 200 Indian mothers whose children are stranded in India - said many parents are asking about this route to the UAE.

"At least six parents have contacted me about this option. It is a desperate move. However, parents feel they are left with no other choice," said Dr Salam. She said parents need to be ready to face challenges while their children are in transit. "They could have issues in immigration."

A Dubai-based parent whose son is in New Delhi told Khaleej Times: "I booked my son's ticket to Washington earlier today (Tuesday). The irony is that when the lockdown in the US and India was announced, I had him travel from the US to India, thinking it would be easier for him to return to the UAE. He is a student at a US university. Now, he has to go back to the US."

'Prepare for every hurdle'

Sattar's sons Bilal and Basil returned home to Dubai just in time for Eid Al Adha. "From Calicut to Delhi to Chicago, the boys flew on Air India, and took an Emirates flight on their return to Dubai," Sattar said.

He has a word of advice for parents opting for this route: Be prepared for every hurdle. "I have received 13 enquiries from parents. I am receiving a lot of calls, and people are messaging me on Facebook and Twitter," said Sattar.

The US is accepting all visa holders, including B1 and B2 tourist visas. "B1/B2 visa holders can return to the UAE from the US. I got the visa for my sons two years ago," he explained. Since one of his sons is a minor, he gave the boys a signed NOC.

They also carried a copy of a Covid-19 negative test result from an ICMR-approved laboratory in India. "I had booked a hotel for them in Chicago, where they stayed for 12 hours. I was expecting them to face hurdles at the immigration in US, however, everything went smoothly."

Since the US has different regulations for different states, the boys were not asked to serve a 14-day quarantine. "Check with official bodies on their Twitter handles. I checked with the US Embassy in Delhi before the boys departed from India," he said. 


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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