American Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has become instrumental in reuniting an Indian family separated due to the recent travel ban in the wake of the second surge in Covid-19 cases in India.
Ashu Mahajan, a Software solutions architect, travelled to India in April to see his ailing father days before his death on April 21 due to Covid-19. However, before he could head back home to New Jersey, new travel restrictions came into effect, forcing the closures of American embassies and consulates located in India.
As a highly skilled immigrant worker with an H-1B visa, Ashu needed to have his passport reviewed and stamped at an American embassy or consulate before travelling back to the United States. Still, he was told that he couldn’t get an appointment before February 2022.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa granting US companies to employ foreign workers in special occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise.
Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez told reporters at Scotch Plains in New Jersey that having the family separated for so long would not only be a tremendous hardship. Moreover, it would jeopardise Ashu’s job under H-1B visa status and his family’s life in America.
“I’m incredibly proud of my staff in New Jersey and Washington with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for working together to bring back Ashu Mahajan home,” says Robert Menendez. “They reached out to the State Department. They made clear all that was at stake in this case, and they successfully secured an expedited appointment at the US embassy in New Delhi so he could get that passport stamp and board a flight back to America.”
Robert Menendez was joined by Ashu Mahajan along with his wife Neha and two daughters Sana and Aishi at the press conference near their Scotch Plains home to announce Ashu’s safe return.
Hundreds of Indians on H-1B visas have been facing similar issues because of the travel restrictions on Indians by the US on May 4. Senetor Robert’s office says Ashu and his family have been living for around a decade in the immigration backlog after legally immigrating to the US through the H-1B visa and applying and qualified in 2012 for green cards.