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Bhuvaneswari Subramani for AWS Heroes

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An experience with an emergency visa and a friend's travel to the US for last rites

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Well, I never thought I would sit down to write such a blog even in my wildest dreams but let this go as a tribute to our lovely boys. But all through this journey, it reminded me several times that

Humanity prevails beyond all barriers

Its all about the tragedy that hit my close friend Vijaya Nirmala's family and the toughest journey ever which should never happen in anyone's life.

It's all about the process and documentation they had to follow, tough conversations to have, looking to the world with a ray of hope.

I am capturing this experience in blog for two reasons.

  1. In future, this will act as a reference to the community who helped us to help someone else with a guide. Wish we don't encounter such a heart-breaking situation.

  2. For all the folks who have extended their help on Goodwill, I felt we are answerable before Nirmala & family return back to India.

My memory with the boys when Nirmala and myself got to spend few days in Las Vegas


My friend VijayaNirmala is blessed with two sisters - elder Vijayalakshmi and younger VijayaGeetha.
We had Nirmal's elder sister Viji akka and her husband, Mr.Nagarajan - parents from India travelled to US for the first time to visit their sons - 23 and 24 year old who were studying and working respectively in US. All the hopes and heart full of dreams they had were literally burnt to furious flame in no time when a semi-truck hit the the car in which Athish and Dhinesh travelled along with they parents on 18th Sep 2022 in Sedona, Arizona at 14:19 hours. All the 4 passed away. It took almost 24 hours for this deadly news to reach the deceased mother's sisters (Nirmala & Geetha). 19th Sep 2022 mid-night, sisters in India started getting multiple calls from many different numbers to break the news. When I heard the news from them I could certainly feel the sharp pain have pierced every cell in them. A major hit from someone who has lost their mom 10 years before and recovering from dad's demise during COVID pandemic.

Something that has never been imagined by anyone even in their wildest dreams and something which we never wanted to happen for anyone. But based on request from the kind hearted friends who have helped by all means to make it, writing down this blog with some information.

It took atleast couple of hours to see and think whats next..

It was't an easy option to get the body aka remains of the 4 deceased to India, instead, the sisters choose to travel to US to do the last rites. And Nirmala's husband would travel from Canada to join last rites.

Emergency Visa

  • Initiated tweet to seek help addressing to #mea @DrSJaishankar which had fetched an acknowledgement from @CGISFO and also an interaction with Venkata Kommineni, Telugu association president started.

Consulate is in touch with local authorities for needful action, pl.

  • That twitter post and further follow-ups by me got us connected with few good friends and press, political party which took us in the right direction.

  • Filled in DS160 Application for Visa and there is no emergency visa appointment category.

  • Got an affidavit from lawyer stating that relationship of the two sisters with the deceased mother. They used the govt proof which mentioned that the 3 sisters are legal heirs of their father.

  • Based on suggestions from kind hearted connects, sent separate email to and with DS160 Application Number, News links about the incident on 20th Sep IST evening but no response.

  • Raised an emergency report on 21st Sep 2022
    through and attached the documents (death investigator report, FIR Copy, Passport Copy of deceased, Affidavit of the application relationship with deceased. Legal heir cert of all 3 sisters to their dad.
    The request was under review.

  • Same was sent on separate email to and with case history, DS160 application id and emergency request status as in the above screen shot with the proper subject line - Death Emergency US visa appointment request - on Sep 21, 2022 at 3:33 PM IST and got the below response at 3:58 PM IST on the same day withe below test

We are sorry to hear about the loss of your family members in the United States of America.
Your emergency request for your sister Ms Vijaya Geetha Gopal has been approved and kindly schedule your appointments online as Visa appointments are scheduled through our online appointment system.

  • Next challenge was scheduling an appointment with online appointment system. We cannot try multiple times because then the account will be locked for 48 hours.


  • Finally could book the appointment for 25th Sep - Biometric and 27th Sep - Visa Interview. Both went good.

  • At the time of Visa interview, Geetha was asked to keep the phone handy to receive a call.

  • Finally got a call to collect the stamped passport in hand and they received it in the afternoon.

  • Not sure whether to feel happy to get the emergency visa or worried about our limited scope and knowledge on the emergency visa process, which took 8 days to get Visa but a big thanks to all those who helped us in this journey.

Documents Prepared and Submitted

  • An affidavit from lawyer stating that relationship of the two sisters with the deceased mother. They used the govt proof which mentioned that the 3 sisters are legal heirs of their father.

  • An affidavit from lawyer stating that relationship of the two sisters with all the 4 deceased. This carries the present problem background, Aadhaar and passport of requester. passport number and DOB of all 4 deceased

  • An affidavit from Mr.Nagarajan's family that Viji Akka's sisters travelling from India will have all the rights in doing the last rites to the deceased family, since his brother or brothers children cannot travel.

  • Aadhaar Card and Passport of travellers

  • Aadhaar Number and Passport Number of the deceased

  • Birth certificate originals of two deceased boys

  • Notary signed document prepared by deceased mother and her husband when the two boys were sent to US for studies. This is to state that parents will support their education.

  • Flight tickets with open return dates were booked with the help of friends

  • Multi-currency travel card and Travel Insurance was obtained.

Documents Submitted - funeral home

  • Funeral home application for cremation filling in of name, DOB, date of death, SSN, reason etc
  • Hospital or county medical exam report in this case
  • Affidavit establishing the relation ship between Vijayalakshmi and sisters
  • No objection or approval affidavit from Mr.Nagarajan's side from his parents or siblings who becomes next of Kin (this is for Nirmala & Geetha to perform cremation of Mr.Nagarajan and his sons)
  • Filled in application forms for receiving death certificates for all 4 of them with name, SSN, passport number, DOB, etc

Documents Submitted - hospital

The below process was followed to request release of the remains for performing last rites.
1) In case of accident, dental records need to be sumitted for each of them.
2) There is no such thing in India so had to request finger prints form FBI and/or homeland security to give their finger prints for Viji Akka and Mr.Nagarajan
1) for Athish the company released his medical dental and medical history after coroner request from county. Coroner is basically the person involved or doing he investigation
Or else the other option is the NoK(Next of Kin) can give request form signed in. We went with former option as we were in India
Also they used advanced face identification method to finalize the identification


  • A family friend volunteered to setup a new bank account after consulting with their auditor, which can be used for GoFundMe only

  • Created the fund raising page and within 2 days, we were able to meet the target amount $50,000 and closed the campaign Help Athish Dhinesh's Funeral

  • The account holder will receive cheque and debit card which can be used for the expenses

  • GoFundMe's Trust & Safety team have asked the account holder to get an email and full name of an immediate family member to confirm this bank transfer plan.

I would like to highlight that GoFund was planned for funeral and other related expenses. Travel for Nirmala, Shijo and Geetha and their personal expenses were self-funded.

Funeral Expense

  • Decided Sunwest Funeral Home, Cemetery & Crematory
  • Funeral homes are generally not available on Sundays, hence scheduled for 3rd Oct
  • When should the priest arrive on 3rd?
    Early morning 6:45 should be fine. Cremation can occur only after rituals and cremation will take time.

  • How long will it take to cremate and receive the ashes?
    The can only cremate one person at a time, so it will take a whole day to cremate all of them. The ashes will be provided only the next day.

  • What’s the best package they suggest?
    Due to the nature of the accident, they have suggest a direct cremation package. And avoid all other packages such as memorials and touch ups.

  • What does direct cremation include?
    Direct cremation includes transport of the four of them from Yavapai County OME to their funeral home. They will handle all transportation.

  • It also includes a cremation casket and a temporary URN made of cardboard.

  • People are allowed to visit the ritual and gather before the cremation. Exact details of the capacity of how many people can gather at one is currently not available.

  • Do we have to buy a casket?
    No. Since it’s a direct cremation there’s no need to get a casket as one is already included.

  • Can they place sarees and other clothing as per Indian tradition?
    Yes. They can wrap them around the casket or place it on top of them before cremation.

  • Are Hindu rituals and our own priest allowed to perform a ritual?
    Yes. The rituals are allowed.

  • What are the accepted methods of payment?
    Cash, Credit cards, or cheque

  • What are the current fees with the funeral home?

The current costs include
4x Direct cremation charges - $1990.14
1x Mileage (transportation from Yavapai to Funeral home) - $160
Death certificates - 20$ per certificate
Death certificate processing charge - 6$ per person. [5 copies will be 100$ + 6$]

Cremation Day

The cremation started with Hindu Rituals around 6:45am US hours followed by Visitation.

Thanks a lot to the friends and their families who showed their love and respect to the deceased, travelled from far and wide on a weekday.


Ashes were given the very next day and they have dissolved those ashes with their prayers to the departed souls. After that Mr.Nagarajan's family performed pooja back in hometown.

After lots of back and forth co-ordination Nirmala & family received the death certificate on 18th Oct 2022 (2 weeks after cremation).

News Links

What happened Athish and Dhinesh belongings in US?

Greatness lies in giving and not taking and so did Nirmala & sister Geetha.
After all the cremation, Nirmala & Geetha visited Athish and Dhinesh's house

  • Took two days for them to clean the house gave away all clothes and ration to Goodwill charity.

What came from HIM has gone back to HIM

  • "Viji Akka is always a staunch devotee of Lord Venkateshwara", said Nirmala. The silver items and brass which Viji Akka got from India for their son's new house were surrendered to the foot of Lord Venkateshwara in the famous Mahaganapathy temple, Maricopa. The intention was to spread the radiance, positivity and light in the lives of millions in the name boys and their parents. MahaGanapapathy
  • Silver Idols of Ganesha and Gajalakshmi was given to Sri Venkateswara Kshetra Temple near Tempe.

  • Utensils and other house hold items were also given away.

And they are all set to travel back to India with heavy heart and loads of memories of the bygone family.

Thank you

Om Shanthi 🙏 Probably the last family photo 🙏

Our humble thanks to the kindest hearts for being a ray of sunshine even on the darkest days of the needy 🙏

Those who travel rarely to a foreign land know the difficulty of getting things ready, packing and travelling. Nirmala's family didn't even have time to sit and grieve for the deceased but to prepare all the documents needed for getting Visa, Funeral Home and Hospitals.

But all this was possible because of the friends and family, known to unknown folks, spread across mother India to US, who stood by us in every step in making this impossible.

Two sets of folks who extended helping hand for us from India and in US

Kind hearts from India

  • Truly indebted to our Indian Government
  • Vanathi Srinivasan Akka and her secretory Mohana Akka
  • V Palanisamy Sir and Mr.Selvakumar

  • Most importantly a big fat thank you to few friends who remained back stage and help without revealing identity🙏

  • Balakumaran Thangavel and Vidhya Bhojan who has helped me several times on different cause. The due who leads CSR Programs full time at different level have instilled a thought in me that we have good career choices to server humanity with hearts content. Food for thought and future looks promising that side indeed.

  • Nirmala's relatives and Mr.Nagarajan's brother's family were so helpful and supportive to get the affidavit as needed and plan for the travel.

Extended Family in US

  • Our heartfelt thanks to a team Seva International team with Prasad Koranne, Anu Peshawaria, Pushkar and all in the team for supporting us and guiding us all along

  • It all started with a WhatsApp message from our friend SriDevi stating Venkata Kommineni's WhatsApp message about the accident on 20th Sep 2022. Just pinged him on WhatsApp to understand more and that was the beginning. Amazing person, highly empathetic and respectful, who made rest of the journey to US possible by all means. A Huge Respect to you, Sir!!

  • Thanks a tonne to Jeggy who was co-ordinating end-to-end and spending countless hours taking IST updates and giving US updates for a week to 10 days until the cremation was done.

  • Tamil sangam with Jeggy, Giridhar, Ganesh, Yuvaraj Shanmugam and all of the Tamil sangam team who helped with their time, care and provided delicious food with affection. We thank the Tamil sangam for co-ordinating with us and supporting us anytime

  • Nirmala's good old Family friend Archana, Michigan for supporting us with GoFund and lending her support in times of difficulties both personally and for initiatives

  • Many thanks to Viji Akka's friend Preetha who travelled all the way from Cannada for the last times

  • Athish and Dhinesh friends starting with Haran, Jegan, Nathan posey, Sarah, Elvis Jagat, Thomas Yu, Andy, Logan, Lucid Team, Arcx team, Hazel, Sujan, Illavrasi, Nandhini, Vivin Balaji, Kandasamy Senthilkumar, Hema, Anjana, Vidiya Prashanth and other friends of Athish who extended our support during tough times and being there when Nirmala and Geetha arrived.

  • Tons of heartfelt thanks to Ruchi
    Nagappan & Family who extended their warmth, care and compassion to Nirmala, Shijo and Geetha 🙏🙏🙏

A big thanks to friends from global #AWSCommunity who stood by us during this difficult times 🙏

We are touched beyond words for all the generosity and thank each of you on behalf of VijayaNirmala, Shijo and Vijaya Geetha and personally from the bottom of my heart 🙏

Top comments (1)

miahharvey profile image
MiahHarvey • Edited

Hey there! I just read your post about your friend needing an emergency visa for travel to the US. I can't even imagine how stressful and emotional that must be for them, trying to make it in time for a last rite. These unexpected situations can be really difficult, and navigating the visa process on such short notice isn't easy, either. Hopefully, everything works out for your friend, and they manage to get there in time. It's crazy to think there are still people out there looking for fake ids for sale when others are genuinely trying to get through the immigration process the right way. Wishing your friend a safe and smooth journey.