A group of more than 70 university students who was doing a cultural exchange in different cities of the U.S, within the framework of the program Work and Travel, was stranded after the closure of borders and the cancellation of international flights, decreed by the Government, in the framework of the pandemic of coronavirus.
Through a video, which began to circulate on social networks, one of the students, on behalf of the group, said: “Most of us came here in late November or early December, with plans to leave in early March or late April. As it is public knowledge, we are in a situation of global health emergency, so We tried to reschedule the original flights, in due course, to be able to leave before the country, but are all these canceled “.
“Our return tickets are not with the flag carrier, so we have no answer, so we were forced to come to Miami, since the repatriation flights Argentine Airlines leave here and it is the only feasible option we see to return so far, “he continued explaining.
But flying is not the only problem, they have other complications: “Both our Visa as our medical insurances expire in a few days, leaving us in a very vulnerable situation. This, added to that we can no longer afford our expenses for much longer. We are aware of the mandatory quarantine and the precautions that we must have when entering the country, we are looking for a solution that he can take us back home. “
In dialogue with TN.com.arSebastián Goycoa, a Mar del Plata who was working in a sports stadium in Boston under the plan, said that more than 70 Argentines are in the same situation.
Sebastián had to work until March 28, but on March 13 they closed their workplace and they were told that they did not have to go any further, without paying them compensation for their work. “There are guys who are in Aspen and were paid until the last day of the contract,” he adds.
The Argentine students who were in Boston, they were around 40, they looked for the way to return after the measures announced by Alberto Fernández, but not all succeeded.
Sebastian had a ticket American Airlines for April 4 from Miami. So, along with 8 other Argentines traveled to Florida city and went to the airport to ask to be endorsed to fly with LATAM, which until that moment could land in Argentina, but they did not give him an answer.
The young man decided to buy another ticket for March 24, but it was canceled and, finally, he managed to change the first ticket for a passage from LATAM for April 1. However, he does not know if he will be able to return.
Like Sebastián, there are dozens of young people who are in this situation. Francisco Naranja, told TN.com.ar what queues of people of more than five hours form at the Miami airport and they don’t give you a solution.
Francisco was working at a ski center in Aspen and, after the announcement of the closing of Argentina’s borders, he decided to change his return ticket for March 24, but LATAM canceled it. As they were told that the only flights to Ezeiza International Airport were from Miami, he decided to travel there.
“We came to Miami and we could reschedule it for the 26, after queuing for 5 hours. I to all this I had already bought two more tickets. Later we get the cancellation of the flight from the 26th. We tried to buy a ticket with Argentinian airlines, but they gave us just for April and they were over a thousand dollars, unlike the $ 500 that those in Latam cost, “says the young student.
Both Sebastián and Francisco confirmed TN.com.ar what in Miami it is full of Argentines. In Chancery they were informed that there are more than 5000 compatriots waiting to return to the country. In this framework, and despite the recommendations for social distancing, passengers crowd the airport every day waiting for a response.
“Everyone is leaving out the virus and the spread of the disease”, says Sebastián, who ensures that from the Argentine consulate they did not give him any help. And, for the worse, these last days it was closed.
Visas that expire
Inside the program Work and Travel, Young obtained a work visa (J1) that enabled them to carry out their tasks until the agreed date. Most were due back next week to the country. Those who they don’t have a tourist visa, in a few days, he will remain in the country illegally.
“After the expiration date, the J1 visa gives you one more month to visit the country. But there are many people here who do not know. I have a tourist visa, but there are many who do not have them and the visa has expired, “said Sebastián.
The word young people repeat is uncertainty. The airlines do not give them a solution, the Consulate does not serve them, Miami prohibited the check in in hotels and the only solution they have is to go to one of the international chains that have an agreement with Argentina, where they have to pay $ 120 a night, against 15 that it costs to sleep in an apartment.
Further, repatriation lists are prioritized and they, being young, not belonging to any risk group or having small children, are left for last.
Meanwhile, they have set up a WhatsApp group where they stay connected, share information, contain each other, and hope to get a response to reunite with their families.