For Indian expats returning home, COVID’s shattered a dream too many

Expats migrants return home
According to some expats, it was not easy for a labourer to get the pass unless they can influence immigration authorities. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

For S Suresh, a server working in a Dubai bar, life had gotten better since he left his native Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. “Since I was given food, accommodation and a decent pay, I always felt safe to be here, instead of looking back at my native.”

But the novel coronavirus struck, forcing the bar to shut, leaving the daily-wage earner without a means to earn. Having missed the flight home, he is now desperately looking for ways to return to his native along with his wife and children. He has applied for a travel pass and is waiting for the government’s nod to move.

“Even for transportation, I do not have money" he rues. "Once the embassy people get in touch with me, I will have to arrange money.”

People wishing to return have to apply on a website of the Indian government giving the reason for the migration and other relevant documents. The foreign country’s government is also supposed to clear relevant papers in accordance with the country’s labour laws. The Indian embassy clears it only after getting in touch with the applicant over phone.

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