With Covid travel restrictions preventing Indians from flying to the US directly, many on work visas have been traveling to the US via a third country for the past couple of months.
Mexico emerged as one of the top transit destinations for Indians getting their parents to quarantine before arriving in the US.
Mexico checked the boxes for third-country travel because it grants visas on arrival to Indians with a valid US passport and proximity to the US. However, language, culture, and food constraints remain a concern for most who are flying the elderly via this route.
In immigration forums for a long time, people were looking for options closer to India in terms of food and culture and the Middle East seemed like a suitable option for many. Doha in Qatar is fast emerging as the next hot hub for Indian travelers wishing to enter the US.
Murthy SN based in New Jersey shares with the American Bazaar, “My friend’s in-laws will be coming to the US and have already entered Doha and obtained a visa on arrival hassle-free. They plan to continue their journey to the US after a stopover.”
While Qatar grants visas on arrival their travel guidelines require all travelers to carry a smartphone with their app and use a new local mobile number in Qatar. Sim on arrival is available at the airport.
The guidelines also say that “Individuals wishing to travel abroad must be aware of the health measures applied in the country of arrival regarding quarantine duration and Covid-19 certificate requirement.”
The guidelines also require a PCR test approved by the local Ministry of Health in the country of departure before traveling to the State of Qatar.
Fully vaccinated travelers have to undergo antibody tests upon arrival and if the results are positive, they are exempted from quarantine requirements.
Traveling Indians are also sharing with each other apps such as Thalaba that helps order Indian food from restaurants. Many others are booking apartments that come with a kitchen. A lot of Indians are now also looking for travel companions for their parents.
Florida-based Pooja Shah who has been contemplating bringing her mother to the US says, “My mom has only traveled to the US once before and has no other exposure to international travel.”
“I am quite wary of her managing alone in Cancun or any other South American destination, Qatar still seems like a doable idea,” she says. “I am looking in local groups and if I can get a travel companion and then of course it can work comfortably.”