For Indian passport holders who are stuck in the USA on either a tourist (B1/B2), study (F1) or work visa like H1B or L1, the Indian embassy is arranging flights back to India.
The US to India flights are part of the plan where 10 flights will fly to UAE, seven each to the US and UK, five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore, and two flights to Qatar. There will also be flights to Malaysia, Bangladesh, five flights each to Kuwait and Philippines, and two flights each to Oman and Bahrain.
You should fill the registration form on the Indian Embassy of Washington website.
This link is valid for all Indian embassy jurisdictions irrespective of your US residence address. This means it is valid for the whole USA.
Each person should fill this form separately as per Embassy instructions. Strangely, the form does have the option to provide family details who are traveling with you even though instructions ask to fill separate forms for each individual.
You will be contacted by the Indian embassy if your application has been approved.
Flights to India are not free.
The one-way ticket price per person
USA to India: You have to pay INR 1 Lakh per person to book a seat on the US to India flight.
Cost from Gulf countries such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha to Kochi, Kerala range from Rs 15,000 to Rs 16,000.
London to India: Rs 50,000 per person.
The first flight from the US to India will start on May 7.
Air India will operate these flights and plans to bring 2100 Indians from the US to India between May 7-13 (first phase).
Yes, each passenger would be tested for COVID-19 before boarding. If you are found positive, you will not be allowed to travel.
Only passengers who are found negative will be allowed to travel keeping in mind the safety of other passengers.
All passengers arriving from the US to India on special COVID-19 flight will have to be in Quarantine for at-least 14 days.
The Indian government will track your health using the new Aarogya Setu app, which TechCrunch report is being criticized for privacy issues.
Unfortunately, you do not have an option as it has been made mandatory to register on the app if you want to take this flight.
Also, keep in mind that you will have to pay for your quarantine cost yourself if your state government does not provide free care in India.
OCI cardholders are not allowed to travel on these emergency COVID flights.
You will have to sign an undertaking (download and print to save time and hassles at the airport) before boarding the flight in the US.
Am I eligible to take Flight to India?
You need to have a valid reason to book this flight. The Indian government will verify your documents for:
#1 Professional or Employee laid off
Indians on H1B or L1 visa who have lost their job in the USA and are not accruing ‘unlawful presence‘.
H1B workers are allowed a 60 day grace period if they are laid off. If you have already exhausted the extra time without restarting your H1B status, we suggest that you should either file H1B to B2 Change of status or leave the US using this flight.
Leaving the US is better than filing a B2 visa keeping in mind future prospects. You can file H1B from India as and when you can find a new US employer.
If you have already filed B2 COS, then your application would be automatically abandoned by USCIS on your exit. This does not affect future visa applications.
Some H1B workers are even confused between filing H1B to B2 or F1 after a job loss.
#2 Non-Permanent Resident or Short Term Visa holder facing expiry of the visa
People visiting the USA like parents or elders on B2 visa who want to return to India as their i94 has expired can select this option.
You can request an extension of B2 by filing form i-539 but if you have already stayed for 6-12 months, we suggest taking this flight.
Note that biometrics is required for B2 extension approval and USCIS fingerprinting centers are closed due to COVID emergency.
#3 Medical Emergency
You are eligible if facing a medical emergency like you are a diabetic and have run out of your medicines in the US. Travel insurance may not cover all situations either.
#4 Pregnant Woman/Elderly
Pregnant women and elderly Indians can opt to go back to India. There is no age definition provided by the Indian embassy but usually, if you are 50+, you should be able to book a ticket.
#5 Due to death of a family member
You are eligible to travel from the US if you need to attend a funeral in India. Note that it should be a close family member who has died.
#5 Tourist or visitor stranded abroad
You will be allowed to travel if your visitor visa has expired. This has been discussed above.
#6 Student- educational institute closed
This includes students who are on F1 visa in USA.
COVID Flight Plan – Air India
Indian Embassy in USA Helpline
If you have questions and queries about this travel, you can contact here:
|Indian Embassy Jurisdiction||Contact (24×7)|
|Embassy of India Washington DC|
Indians in Bermuda, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
|Atlanta Indian Embassy|
For applicants residing in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands.
|Chicago Indian Embassy|
Illinois. Indiana. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota. Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
|Houston Indian Embassy|
Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nebraska
|New York Indian Embassy|
Connecticut, Maine. Massachusetts. New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont
|San Francisco Indian Embassy|
Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam. Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.