Monday, April 6, 2009

My Indian Visa Drama

My flight to Mumbai leaves in 12 hours. At this moment, I am sitting here with no passport, no visa, but only my plane tickets. Getting a visa for India has proven to be very difficult in my case. I can only share my stories below and hope others (i.e. you) would have better luck.

1st trip to Indian embassy. About two weeks ago. That was my first attempt to get a visa for India. We were told the visa service has been outsourced recently (is there anything that can't be outsourced?!) and is at another location, but of course the information was not updated on their website. Oh well ran out of time so had to do it another day. Damnit.

1st trip to Indian visa office. 10 days ago. A smiling head-bobbing staff explained to me that my Canadian passport only had one blank page and it was not sufficient for visa processing. I needed two blank pages, i.e. a new passport!

1st trip to Canadian embassy after reaching out to the emergency service immediately. Filled out application form for a temporary passport in addition to a regular passport as a regular would take twenty work days to process, whereas a temp can be printed in Abu Dhabi and ready in five. The staff casually mentioned at the end of the conversation that she was the only one that can print the temp passports, and she would be away on personal holiday for five days, but “don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.” Uhmm, right.

2nd trip to Canadian embassy. 4 days ago. Picked up 8-page temporary passport. Noticed that it was only valid for six months exact. Thinking to self if that it might be a problem to enter India because there’s a requirement of 6 months validity upon arrival. But no time to waste. Need to hand in visa application form FAST.

2nd trip to Indian visa office. 4 days ago. Filled out visa application form. Was told “no problem, madam. Visa will be ready in one day. Two days maximum.”

3rd trip to Indian visa office. 2 days ago. Just when I thought everything was going to be sorted after all. I received a phone call Friday (weekend) night from the visa office, telling me that my application is not complete. I had to go in and fill out an additional form because, take this, I was born in China! “Additional five work days will be required.” So India and China don't get along, eh? Who knew!

3rd trip to Canadian embassy. After Q’s nudging I decided to follow up on the six month passport validity situation. Canadian embassy staff agreed to give me a copy of my new passport (which arrived yesterday), and a letter explaining my situation. You see, I can’t get the new passport yet because I can't carry around two valid passports at any given time, and my visa would be on the temp. Get it?

--- Insert dozens phone calls to Canadian and Indian embassies between trips. ---

Latest update: Just called my friend Sashi at Indian embassy, yes, we are friends now since he's on my speed dial. I was informed that my security form was just faxed to New Delhi, and now I must wait for security clearance. You gotta love the protocol though: if they doesn’t hear back from New Delhi after five working days, they can assume everything is okay and proceed to issue me a visa, but not before. The staffs can't afford risking their jobs over failing to folllow procedure and that is it.

I’ve done the upset-and-bitching part, so what now. "All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope.” I think I will do just that. Actually, add "blogging" to that list.

New latest update: Still no visa after another day of waiting. I was told that Indian embassy will be closed tomorrow due to Indian public holiday, so there is no chance for me to get a visa and get myself to India before my course starts. This is it. My India trip is off.


Unknown said...

I almost want to say ´You must be joking, right?'. But I know you're not... That's sheer bureaucracy!!! Aaaaaarrrggghhh!!! I hope they'll repent and see the utter madness of it. Good luck!!!


Ryan Rowe said...

You're kidding. After all that you got hijacked by a HOLIDAY? They didn't tell you? Talk about shit luck! I'm so sorry Shu.

Big hug.

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't you add pages to the passport? That is commonplace. And wasn't it a little late to be sorting out a visa?