UAE-India repatriation: Pregnant expat 'without marriage certificate' hopes to fly back home
For the woman to deliver the baby in the UAE, she and her husband need to present an official marriage certificate.
Vande Bharat Mission has come as a saviour for Dubai-based Indian expat Poonam Singh, who is now 35 weeks pregnant. She is hoping to leave on the first repatriation flight to New Delhi because she can't give birth in the UAE - for lack of a valid marriage certificate.
Poonam and her husband Anoop hail from a remote village in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, where solemnisation and marriage certification are done by the gram panchayat (village council) - age-old norms are still being practised there. However, a marriage document with the seal of a village head is not valid in the UAE.
"We are from a village in Tehri Garhwal, where our marriage was held. There, no one has any idea about the importance of marriage certificates. I came to the UAE on a visit visa in October 2018 and, by next February, had a job as a hotel receptionist," Poonam said.
"Anoop was already working as a restaurant waiter. I got pregnant in September and my check-up was done at a clinic, covered by insurance."
Later, the couple was informed that for Poonam to deliver the baby in the country, they need to present an official marriage certificate, according to the UAE law.
"Since we had separate employment visas, till date, we never had the need to show a marriage certificate anywhere. We tried to get a certificate from India but we were told that we need to be present back home for that. So, finally, we planned to have the delivery back in India," she said.
"I quit my job, booked a ticket for a flight on April 5, got my visa cancelled on March 19, and was set to leave. But then, the UAE shut its airspace because of the pandemic."
Now, with each passing day, Poonam is getting anxious. And Vande Bharat Mission has come as a new message of hope.
"My husband is working on half salary. I don't have insurance cover now. We didn't save money for such a situation. We can't really afford to have the delivery here and I need to leave. This is my first baby and I need family support, too. I have registered on the online portal and hope to be on a flight to New Delhi," she said.
The first flight from Dubai to New Delhi will operate on May 12.
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