Tens of hundreds of NRIs (including H1B and H4 visa holders) and US citizens of Indian origin, including senior citizens, are stuck in the lockdown across India. Entry restrictions, travel ban, suspension of flights, fears of quarantine, gnawing health concerns, COVID19 misinformation – all that emerged in the aftermath of Novel Coronavirus epidemic – left them stranded in India. Dr. Pulkit Mehta and his 70-year-old father, a US citizen from Newark, who had gone to attend a family wedding in India, could not return to the United States. Currently, about 33,000 US citizens are stranded across the world.
There is good news for American citizens and green card holders stranded in India. The US Mission India is coordinating with the US Department of State to arrange repatriation flights from India to USA for return travel of US citizens stuck amid the COVID19 lockdown in India. Several USA-bound flights are likely to take off from New Delhi and Mumbai this week. The website of US Embassy and Consulates in India states, “We remain ready to assist US citizens with emergency situations resulting from the countrywide lockdown in India.”
Only US citizens, certain legal permanent residents, and their immediate family members will be accommodated on repatriation flights from India to USA depending on available space. US visa holders who are not legal permanent residents (LPRs) are not eligible for repatriation flights.
If you are desperate to leave for the US, you are required to fill out this form furnishing details like current location in India, preferred departure airport in India, full name, nationality, gender, passport number, passport date of issue, passport expiration date, health-related considerations, etc. You might have already provided the information over the phone, but it is mandatory to fill out the form.
It is unambiguously stated that repatriation flights from India to USA are not free. Each adult traveler will have to sign a promissory note for reimbursing the US government for the flight, at the time of boarding. A repatriation flight ticket may cost over $2000 per adult traveler. The final destination of repatriation flights from India to USA may not be revealed until boarding. Passengers will be disembarked wherever the flight will land in the USA. You will be responsible for your onward travel arrangements. No travelers with pets will be allowed to board.
You will not be allowed to check in usually permissible weight of luggage. Your consent to check in limited baggage on the registration form for repatriation flights.
The US Department of State and the US Mission India urge American citizens to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). All STEP members will receive flight updates and other critical information via message. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service for US citizens who travel and live abroad.