HELP - Family unwell in USA - can I get there?

3 replies


Member since 21 Nov 2020

Total posts 2

Hi everyone, I'm sorry if this information is available in another thread, but I'm running low on sleep and haven't been able to find the info.

My sister was just in a car accident in Colorado and has no immediate family with her.

I know flights to the USA are still operating but I'm unsure whether I'll be allowed in on my B1/B2 visa. Does anyone know?

Any advice, URLS or general info would be hugely appreciated. Thank you.


Member since 07 Jan 2016

Total posts 59

So sorry to hear of your sister's situation. Here's some initial advice. Hopefully others in the ET community can assist as well.


Assuming you have a valid passport with 6 months+ till expiry, you should be free to enter the USA as long as you do not intend to work in that country. By definition, the B-2 Visa covers 'visits to relatives' and 'medical treatment' among its allowed activities. (Google 'USA Visitor Visa B-2' for more details).

If still in doubt, Google 'US travel authorization request' > that should bring you to the US Govt Customs and Border web site where you can apply for an ESTA to ensure you have inbound travel clearance.



Google "Leaving Australia COVID-19". That should show you a match with the Australian Govt Home Affairs web site.

On that web site select 'Apply online for an exemption', and click the 'Apply online' button displayed.

Select the options 'I want to leave Australia, and I am an Australian citizen or permanent resident and need to travel outside of Australia' > 'People who are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business' , and in the field labelled 'Please explain why you need to travel outside Australia' provide a description of your sisters accident, the seriousness of her current situation, and the fact she has no next-of-kin in the USA.

You will need to provide your Passport number but you do not need to provide a flight number at this time (simply state this as 'Unknown').

There will be a section titled 'Supporting Documents'. I would recommend attaching any correspondence from the hospital and/or the treating doctor that confirms your sister is receiving critical care treatment. If you have any documents showing you are next-of-kin it would also be worth uploading a copy of that as evidence of your relationship.

Book the trip as a Return flight (you can change the return date later) so that USA Immigration has evidence you have intention to return to Australia at the end of your sisters treatment.

United Airlines current flys from Sydney to LAX daily (with connections from other Australian cities). Looking at their web site, they currently have seats available every day this week. This may be a situation where it would be worth while engaging a good travel agent to help you make and manage your travel arrangements. (American Airlines and Delta also fly this route, but seat availability for the coming week seems less).

I wish you good luck and hope everything turns out well for your sister.


Member since 21 Nov 2020

Total posts 2

Thanks very much, Nige. This is extremely helpful. I'm in the process of applying for approval to depart Australia – fingers crossed my request is assessed quickly.

My sister is now out of hospital but she is unable to care for herself and has limited support in Colorado. I'll keep this thread updated on my progress.

Chris C.

Member since 24 Apr 2012

Total posts 1,118

In most cases a passport that's 6+ months away from expiry is not necessary to enter the USA, only a passport that's valid for the duration of the intended visit. More info here:

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