Last February, I described the nightmare applying for visas to India. In the end the trip got cancelled before my wife and I got the ten year visa on our passports.
For these holidays we were looking at a family trip to India and I applied for the kids with a sense of dread.
The good news this time. Several improvements:
- India uses a new outsourcer, Cox and Kings and as the tracking shows, the processing time was a reasonable 7 days
- The website was much more stable – though it is mostly optimized for IE
- I did not have to make a single call or send a single email to check on the status. They emailed us periodic updates.
We had to go to the post office to get money orders, Walgreens to get photos, UPS for the shipping documents. All those steps can be digitized. The site says you can pay online, but I could not find where. The application allows you to upload a digital photo, but also requires a printed photo, and a copy of your driver’s license.
The application asks redundant questions, and then the site has you fill out other forms which ask more redundant questions. There are other land mines – multiple signatures required, and one in particular can cause rejections if it is not in a specific block. Also, try jamming in the space provided "countries visited in last 10 years"
The site should have a configurator which tells you what your total fee is. Instead they make you navigate this confusing schedule
The 7 day processing is a bit misleading. We shipped the application by UPS on October 12 and got it back October 30.
These days you can get a visa upon arrival in India. That's a for one time visit, but should the multi-year visa process not be similarly streamlined? For a country so adept at software development, the process should be a much more pleasant digital experience.