In the first week of March, Sakshi Srivastava Sah travelled to India from Dallas to visit her mother. Two weeks later, she found out she was pregnant, just as India announced a complete lockdown, including cancelling international flights, to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Her husband Deepak, a software engineer, was in the US on a H1B visa, working for a multinational company in Texas.
As the number of cases continued rising in both India and the US, the 32-year-old homemaker had no option but to wait for consulates and flights to open so that she could get her H4 dependent visa stamped and fly back to her husband. But she got a shock last week when US President Donald Trump suspended the issuing of H1B visas, and dependent H4 visas, leaving thousands of families in the lurch. The purported reason for the ban was to reduce unemployment in the US, which is reeling under the effects of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
As news of the order came in, a staggering number of women began posting anxious messages on social media groups of H1B and H4 visa holders, seeking legal counsel about the avenues available to them. It was clear from the messages that, apart from the people whose jobs were in danger because of the executive order, hundreds of women who had applied for dependent visas or extensions of it were also suddenly facing an indefinite period of uncertainty. Worse, it was likely that they would have to deal with it without the support of their spouses.
As news of the order came in, a staggering number of women began posting anxious messages on social media groups of H1B and H4 visa holders, seeking legal counsel about the avenues available to them.
Srivastava said that she had already been suffering from anxiety because of the lockdown and the executive order dealt a huge psychological blow.
“Every day, I go through a different level...