I might be visiting India this year after all, we thought we could coincide Babu’s trip to Mumbai to get his US seaman’s visa renewed with a trip to Mumbai for me too! It’s not confirmed – it depends on a plethora of things – when his interview date is, if I can get time off work, if I can get a flight and how long before the interview he is told the appointment date – since I may not be able to afford said flight if it is only a few days previous! So I’m not getting myself excited just yet, I did however go and get myself a tourist visa, and I just wanted to share how impressed I am!
In the UK you apply for a visa through these people here at VFS Global, from what I can gather they work as agents on behalf of the Indian consulate in the UK.
You apply online, and then submit the form electronically and also print it and send via post with your photos, signed checklists and declarations. You can also pay online which saves going to to get a bankers draft or postal order which can be a little costly too.
The website has pretty much all the information you need. I did however manage to mess up my first application – don’t rush it! I managed (of all things to do) input my name wrong! I submitted my form and payment online before realising this! I emailed customer services who got back to me two days later telling me how to cancel the application and payment which was quite easy once I knew how! Don’t call them, it costs 95p a minute!!!
So, once I re-did my application with the right name on it, (funnily enough my middle name and surname aren’t the same, d’oh!) I submitted the form again, printed, and sent off my payment and stuffed everything in an envelope and sent it via special delivery to ensure it got there safely.
The website states it takes a minimum of 10 days to process, I beg to differ, I posted mine on the Friday and had my passport back, complete with visa the following Thursday! 6 Days! They certainly don’t work on Indian time! VERY impressed, just hope I get to use it.
So although I found the process fairly simple, here’s a few tips…
– Once you print the form, it’s done, you cant change anything, you will have to start over so triple check all info is right beforehand!
– Pay online, that way the correct payment is calculated for you – the fee tables can be a little confusing. Also give them a copy of the payment receipt – don’t know if it is required but I couldn’t see any other way to indicate that I’d already paid.
– The photos required aren’t standard passport size so you may need to hunt around for a photo booth that does them, and make sure you have plenty of change, they’re more expensive than passport ones aswell – mine were £7 in a photo-me booth. Also, really read the photo guidelines as they are very strict.
– Don’t apply for your visa too early! The maximum length is 6 months which starts from the point the visa is created, plan carefully!
– Check, check, check you have remembered to send everything: Visa form, photos, signed declaration, 2 checklists (maybe more depending on nationality), online payment receipt, and most importantly, your PASSPORT!
– Don’t pay extra for SMS updates, they don’t tell you much, and they tell you less then the e-mails they send you! I got a message telling me a decision has been made, no, that’s it, didn’t tell me what!
I think that’s pretty much it, if I have missed anything or you have any questions please comment below…