Visa Crunch

Due to travel restrictions, Indian students enrolled at Italian universities have been forced to return home

Italy allowed residents and citizens of Italy with a Registry of Resident Italians Abroad to travel to the country from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka on June 26. Indian students who came home from Italy during the second wave of COVID-19 to visit with their families or participate in funeral rites for loved ones are now detained here because flying travel to the European country is still prohibited.

Many of the students had gone back home earlier in the year after witnessing a flashback to the terrible first wave of COVID-19 in Italy last year. While some made it home on time, others were caught off guard as Italy closed its international borders to India at the last minute.

Those who returned to India before April 28, when air transport to and from the nation was halted, are now stuck in the country, even though their peers in Italy have resumed their usual lives at colleges.

When Zeeshan Ahmed, a cybersecurity student at Rome’s Sapienza University, learned that his sister was sick with COVID-19, he flew to India. In the end, the virus infected his entire family, including him.

“Although the second wave has passed, my horror is far from finished. Italy has returned to normal, but I am stuck here until the universities are fully operational. I also had a part-time job there, which I’m continuing from here, but that won’t be an option in a few weeks because my absence is affecting my work,” he added.

Owais R Khan, an Aligarh native who is doing a master’s degree in computer science at the same institution in Rome, says he returned to India in February when the situation in both nations had improved. “It appears to be a never-ending loop. We were stranded in Italy last year, and the relatives back home were on pins and needles. A year later, the same chain of events occurred in India, and we are once again in the same predicament. It’s difficult to work through these difficulties while grieving the death of family members and recalling memories of final rites,” he noted.

Italy allowed residents and citizens of Italy with a Registry of Resident Italians Abroad, to travel to the nation from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka on June 26. While there is no official word on when the travel restriction would be lifted, the Indian ambassador to Italy had a meeting with community members on July 9 to advise them on the efforts to get the ban lifted.

“Ambassador Dr. Neena Malhotra virtually engaged with community members and updated them on the Mission’s efforts to get stranded Indians released and flights resumed. Several other community problems were discussed too,” the Indian embassy in Italy tweeted.

According to figures updated on Sunday by the Union Health Ministry, India has registered 41,157 new COVID cases, bringing the total number of infections to 3.11 crore and the death toll to above 4.13 lakh, with 518 more fatalities.

To read about how Indian students who plan to go to the US are suffering too, click the link below:

Ravi Patel

Ravi Patel

To say it in the most sardonic way possible, I am least skilled as an engineer and instill a myopic view of all the experiences I have anticipated so far. However, I stir the pot, colors from which come surging forth as I choose to describe myself as an artist. Here's hoping to diversify my awareness from that cleft beyond writing.

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