Coronavirus: How to Book Emergency Flights to India?

Indian passport holders with B1, B2 expiring visa or H1B after job lay off allowed to travel. US to India ticket price 1 Lakh, 60k from London. 14-day quarantine in India.

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta    Updated  6 May, 20


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.

How to register for Flight from US to India?

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.

Family details COVID-19 USA to India flights

Are Flights to India free of Cost?

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.

When is the first Flight to India?

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).

Will Indian Embassy Do COVID-19 test before Boarding the flight?

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.

Will I be Quarantined after Reaching India?

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.

Can OCI card holder travel back to India?

OCI cardholders are not allowed to travel on these emergency COVID flights.

Where can I find the Undertaking PDF to board the Flight?

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.

Am I eligible for COVID-19 emergency flight from US to India?
Am I eligible for COVID-19 emergency flight from US to India?

#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 JurisdictionContact (24×7)
Embassy of India Washington DC

Indians in Bermuda, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Email: cons4.washincitonmea@gov.in
202-213-1364

202-262-0375
Atlanta Indian Embassy

For applicants residing in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands.

Email: cons.atlanta@mea.qov.in
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGI_Atlanta
404-910-7919

404-924-9876
Chicago Indian Embassy

Illinois. Indiana. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota. Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Email: visa.chicacio@mea.gov.in
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndiainChicago
312-687-3642

312-468-3276
Houston Indian Embassy

Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nebraska

Email: enquiriescqi@swbell.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cgihou
713-626-2149
New York Indian Embassy

Connecticut, Maine. Massachusetts. New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont

Email: visa.newyork@mea.qov.in
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndiainNewYork
212-774-0607

347-721-9243
San Francisco Indian Embassy

Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam. Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Email: oci2.sfa@mea.gov.in
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGISFO
415-483-6629

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Author

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta           

Recent discussion on forum

  1. anonymous
    anonymous

    Thanks Anil for this , it means if we have H1B, also job in hand and need to travel on any emergency in India is not allowed ?


  2. Anil.Gupta
    Anil.Gupta

    It depends on the ‘emergency’. If it fits in the criteria mentioned above, you should be able to travel.

    I have just given some examples of emergencies to help you decide.


  3. anonymous
    anonymous

    oci sf sent me a mail with a link to fill details.


  4. anonymous53
    anonymous53

    SFO to Mumbai/Hyd, Flight landed in Mumbai here is the flight experience so far; awaiting to board Hyd flight

    First Phase

    1. We need to be at the airport 4-5 hours before the departure time. Meaning right from the checkin start time. As there will be separate line for thermal screenings then checking in and security with social distancing.

    2. They will give you 3 forms to fill and sign, 1 for US embassy here, 1 for checking in and 1 for India, so people like me make sure to carry a pen. Surprisingly, this time I carried mine, as people will be skeptical to share the pen.

    3. There will be lot of social distancing before boarding the plane, inside plane it will be regular seating.

    4. Thermal screening will be done before check in and before boarding the plane as well that is after security check.

    5. After boarding the plane, services will not be like regular, like food will be packed and kept on your seat for the entire duration of flight.

    6. I had 2 boxes of food (don’t expect tasty food, I couldn’t finish it, not that it was a lot, I guess you got the point) not complaining but just putting it out there, a pack of snacks , 2 bottles of water, 1 bag with 2 masks and handsanitizer sachets(small packets of 5-6).

    7. No extra food or drinks will be provided, except extra water bottles will be kept near the pantry area.

    8. Crew people were completely covered like in the hospital (which is good for them)

    9. Plane did not come empty from India it had passengers, so please carry extra sanitizers, some wipes so you can clean the seat handles or seat controls etc, as you will be touching them a lot…Get couple of masks, gloves etc.

    10. No blanket or pillows will be given, please carry a thin quilt or shawl as it will get little colder with the ac, you can use it as blanket, while sleeping.

    11. No entertainment so carry some books or your own devices for entertainment as it will be a long flight :slightly_smiling_face:

    12. We were asked to avoid standing or walking a lot in the plane… try to avoid using the restroom a lot, for obvious reasons.

    13. Try avoid talking to your fellow passengers, better for you and everybody else.

    14. For the specific flight I boarded SFO to Mum/Hyd we were asked to deplane at Mumbai and board a different plane to Hyd.

    Second phase:

    After landing in Mumbai Temp check was done and split based on Mumbai or Hyderabad destination happens

    Regular security check

    Hyd flight was also full. No social distancing in the flight. Breakfast was provided in a package (Banana, a piece of cake, kachori, nutrilite mango juice, a pastry and a bottle of water)

    Once landed in hyd, thermal scanning done

    Temperature will be noted in the self declaration form.

    2 self declaration form that you would have got one in SFO and one in the flight. If you do not have it as well no worries they will give you.

    Additional 3 forms declaration cum option form will also need to be filled. They will put a seal in it and send you to immigration counter.

    you will need to submit the passport and the declaration form in immig counter

    Immig will keep the passport and give you a letter that says they will be holding the passport and passport will be returned after the 14 days quarantine period.

    Collect the baggage and proceed towards the next counter where a split happens based on the accommodation option opted.

    Group of 15 are boarded into the bus and taken to the respective hotel.

    In the hotel they would take a pic of the passport form and pay for the accommodation package.

    In hyd accommodations provided - medium (Kamat) , premium (Sheraton -Gachhibowli)


  5. anonymous
    anonymous

    Hi Guys, Gokul here!
    I m was jet lagged so out of reach.

    I m adding FAQs answers on top of previous message to have everything compiled.

    • They gave 2 bottles of water initially packed in a bag. If you need more, you need to go to the CC and grab one bottle for yourself. No service. No tea or coffee service.

    • Seating is full. Social distancing is only till you board. Then it’s assumed you are fine.

    • In my opinion quarantine is much safer than the flight itself. Because in quarantine you can choose to go to a good hotel. But in aircraft you have no option but to sit together.

    For people from other districts - they had arranged buses to travel. They already had a list of people travelling to that district. So one had to go and register there. Then they take you in a government arranged bus. I saw counters for Pune, Nagpur, Nashik,konkan Newmumbai ,panel and outskirts of Mumbai. Their ride was charged. Mumbai ride till hotel was free.

    Some people had prior AI ticket which got cancelled earlier. For them they only had to pay the difference amount.

    There were boys to help load the luggage in buses. Senior citizens can use them if necessary but I suggest you touch your own bags.

    If you have disinfectent wipes use it on the bag handles as soon as you get your check in luggage.

    For interstate travel you make your own travel arrangements. Eg. Gujarat. Just make sure that there are no restrictions to enter your state. Some states have closed their boundaries for now. In that case, you may have to quarantine wherever you land.

    1. all your luggage will be with you and you can take it to the hotel. Choose hotel wisely. A good hotel should disinfect your bags before your enter.
      At all moments you have your luggage with you.

    You get new local sim. There was a counter for arogya sethu register help. There you may get.

    Dr. Rashmi quoted - no options given for hotel quarantine for other district passengers.

    At my hotel it’s only buffet arrangement. No room service even in 5stars. Breakfast Lunch and dinner inclusive with taxes in 4K /day. Other hotels have other offers.

    I’ll attach the price sheet of the new list I got below.

    Payment for hotel - I booked room for 7 days. Will wait for further instructions from Govt. Hope they allow us for home quarantine post 7th day like how kerela did. Hotel payment is upfront at the time of check-in.

    Cabin bags just 1kg more ie. 8 or 9 should be fine. Also laptop bag can be separate. They allowed that too.

    Home quarantine is not an option at all. There are staffs to ensure you don’t escape the procedure. Also arogya sethu app will track your location at all times. So don’t try to bend the rules. It could lead to legal action. Also it’s for yours and everyone’s safety.

    No one took a chance of carrying more than 23 kg for check in luggage. Try not to exceed. But my guess is they may allow max 1 kg extra max.


    Hi Guys,
    Thanks to your blessings, we have safely landed and some have checked in our hotels.

    Quick points in contin uation to previous message tagged above.

    No social distancing measures once you board the airplane.

    Take your own pillow and blanket if u need one.

    No in flight entertainment,
    No wifi, no cabin crew service, no alcohol for business class.

    2 packed boxes for 2 meals plus some snacks was given.

    Everyone was given 2 face masks, face shield, some sanitizer sache. Enough for the journey.

    Food was not so good. You can take your own food if possible.

    Once you land, passengers for the connecting flight are asked to leave the aircraft first.

    Then the rest leave the aircraft.

    Your temperature is checked. If in limits you move to the next counter.

    Ie. Download arogya setu app. In the app you put all your basic details. You need a local sim to register in the app. Coz it sends a pin code.

    You can do the above step in the aircraft and avoid this counter. I did so.

    Then you move to immigration.

    From there you might be approached by some hoteliers.

    Quarantine is mandatory. Weather you cry or flight doesn’t matter. It has to be taken. I saw someone fighting, they did not listen.

    And also, when one signs an undertaking form which clearly states quarantine is mandatory and the cost to be bourn by them, they are not joking.

    There are cheaper options too.

    Note :
    The list we were emailed and the list print they showed after landing was very different. This list was of one page. 12 - 15 options only. Attaching the new list.

    I m not sure if you can book any other hotel from the list or not. I chose one from the new list given at the airport.

    Note -
    Do not book the hotel from USA. The rates after landing are almost 20 %cheaper. And you can slightly negotiate with them on their services.

    Eg. Taj Santacruze was Rs 6500 in the email list.
    But after landing it was around 5K.

    Ask for drop home after quarantine.

    Ask for minimum alternate day room service. Renaissance has it.

    Make sure 3 meals are included in the deals. And the prices are inclusive of taxes.

    Eg. Renaissance was 4000 per night inclusive of 3 meals a day buffet style and taxes.

    For budgeted hotels like zostel - room was for 2000 Rs. But food is additional cost.

    Laundry is expensive here…rs Hi 250 per piece.

    Once you decide which hotel you plan to go - you give your preference hotel to a person sitting on the counter from Govt. Then you meet a h otel representative.

    He will escort you to the Bus.
    6 people allowed in 1 bus.

    Regards,

    • Gokul


  6. Pujitha
    Pujitha

    Hi,
    My parents got stuck here due to ongoing Pandemic, I applied for evacuation flight but did not hear back from Embassy so I would like to know by when we need to apply for their extension of Stay.

    I-94 is valid till 06/13/2020.

    Please advise.


  7. Anil.Gupta
    Anil.Gupta

    Hi @Pujitha

    USCIS suggests to apply B2 extension 45 days before current i94 expiry.

    I suggest to file as early as possible to make sure USCIS gets enough time to generate a receipt before i94 expiry.


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