Huntsville family pleads for visa to come home from Uganda amid a pandemic

Coronavirus

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The State Department has issued a level four health advisory – cautioning U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to COVID 19.

According to the Department of State, every effort is being made to help U.S. citizens overseas who wish to return home.

Jacob Voss said this hasn’t been the case for his family. Voss is taking every measure he can to help bring his family home safely during this global health emergency.

“She was turned away at the embassy and wasn’t allowed in, you kind of think of the embassy as somewhere where you go to take refuge, that’s not been our experience,” said Voss.

Jacob and his wife said (who we are choosing not to name for safety and confidentiality reasons) the adoption of their 7-year-old son was finalized in Uganda last October. Since then, his wife has been living in Uganda, fulfilling the requirements to get their son a visa, which can take months. 

While the visa was processing, the country was in the midst of reacting and adjusting to the outbreak of COVID 19. Then, on March 18, the U.S Embassy in Kampala canceled routine visa appointments.

“She’s been sending emails about how she doesn’t feel safe and just there’s a lot of unrest right now, you would think that there would be open arms, but unless you have scheduled an appointment and they have confirmed that appointment you’re not going to get in that place,” said Voss.

The Voss’ said they didn’t have much luck getting helpful answers from the Embassy and the State Department on their own, so they took to up the ranks.

“I’ve now got six Senators and three House members involved, so all in all, nine members of Congress that have been trying to push this,” he said.

But their push is also slow going – and they’re also getting generic answers like: “ The State Department is currently undergoing the I604 Orphan Determination Process,”  “ The investigation is severely impacted by quarantines, travel restrictions, and reduced consular operations,” and “Consular Kampala has ceased all visa related appointments….we are working on adoption cases to the best of our ability.”

“We’re not asking the State Department to get involved with foreign government processes, we’re actually in American processes and we’re just asking that, we believe that the current situation, is more than sufficient to expedite these visas and get these American families home,” said Voss.

Time is starting to run out to get them out of Uganda and in a country where they have access to adequate medical supplies and food.

The Government of Uganda has already closed its borders, but there is one more flight leaving the country Friday evening, and the Voss family wants to be on it.

“Everything I’m doing is not to have my family back here with me, it’s to try to get my family in a place that’s safe,” said Voss.

Voss’s lawyers said without intervention from Congress and the Whitehouse, their son won’t get a visa in time to catch what may be the last flight out for the duration of the pandemic.

“We are fearful, and she’s trying to remain positive,” he said. “Trying to remain strong, she has a 7-year-old to take care of and ultimately that’s what she has to do.”

Voss has purchased 2 tickets for Friday’s flight, in hopes that the government will step up – so that his family can get to safety.

Frank Adoption, the adoption agency that the Vosses are using, said that the embassy has the legal authority to issue an immediate visa to ensure the safety of Mrs. Voss and her child, but they are refusing to do so.

Right now, Voss and his allies are pushing congressional and senate reps to further their pressure by reaching out to the White House.

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