Huntsville mom and son stuck in Uganda waiting for visa as coronavirus spreads

Updated: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:35 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Across the world, thousands of Americans are stranded as countries close their borders to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. This includes a Huntsville man who said his wife and 7-year-old son are stuck in Uganda waiting for a visa to return home.

In 2015, the Voss family fell in love with a little boy from Uganda and began the adoption process. Jacob Voss' wife moved there in 2018 to bring their son home but has had trouble returning to the United States ever since. With the first few cases of COVID-19 reported in Uganda, the family is worried things are about to take a turn for the worse.

“You see on the TV, President Trump and Vice President Pence and members of congress saying we are taking every opportunity to get Americans out and safe,” said a concerned Jacob Voss. But that’s not the case for him and his wife, along with their newly adopted seven-year old son from Uganda. Too scared to identify his wife or son in fear of retaliation, Voss said they are stuck in Uganda awaiting a stamp on his son’s visa to leave the country. “I don’t understand why we don’t want to get these Americans home.”

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is refusing to do so due to a required "investigation" period in the adoption process. This allows the government to thoroughly review why someone is bringing a child into the United States. This investigation period helps protect children from human trafficking and other criminal activities. “I think it's good, but the US government has everything. They have my financial information, they have my phone, they have my cell phone. They have everything, my family, my family's family. There has not been one stone left unturned during this process.”

And now, with confirmed cases of coronavirus in the impoverished land locked country, Voss is worried his wife and child are not safe. “Locals are identifying this as a foreigner’s disease. A local started pointing at her and saying, Corona! Corona! Corona!” Voss continued saying “There has been an attack on a family about eight minutes away from her. There have been some other violent activities there. I heard somebody was burned alive there. It is just not a good place to be right now.”

Voss along with the WAFF News team have reached out to Sens. Doug Jones and Richard Shelby and Rep. Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt to bring them home. We also contacted the Department of State and Gov. Kay Ivey’s office. Each elected official aware of the situation but are not immediately able fix the situation.

Through it all, Voss is remaining hopeful. A government plane is arriving to Uganda Wednesday to bring more Americans home. He desperately wants his wife and son on that plane.

According to law, the only way to expedite a visa is due to a health crisis or if the Department of State changed the travel advisory.

As of last Thursday, a travel four advisory was in effect in Uganda. This means no Americans should travel there and anyone currently living there needs to get back to US soil immediately. 48 News will continue to push our state leaders and federal government to help bring the Voss family home safely.

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