Indian Visa Renewal
Recently my son’s passport expired and I had to apply for a new passport. Went to the passport renewal site and followed seven steps and couple of days. It arrived as promised and the process didn’t feel like a burden. Then reviewed the Indian embassy to see the process for his visa. According to Indian Embassy Memo in San Francisco, we had to renew his OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) visa also since he is younger than twenty years. No big deal and thought it would take couple of days to complete the application and submit the documents for his visa. But it took me three weeks and multiple trips to notary, then it would take 60 days for the processing :-).
The process is so complicated and I had difficulty understanding what to do. First the embassy will direct you to Cox & Kings (Third party processor). Here you will see multiple pages of instructions. First step is that you need to fill out an application in the site maintained by Indian Government. The site will remind you of the 2000s look and feel. You cannot use a Mac or phone to complete the application. The application has to be completed using Firefox or Chrome in a windows machine. You need to enter the information from your old passport, new passport, old visa, previous Indian passport if you had indian citizenship. Luckily they will find you. The instructions are not clear but you have to understand to follow it.
First step is to upload the passport size photo and signature card. The scan has to be perfect 2in x 2in and uploaded so that your shoulders should be in the middle. This is important and I learnt the hard when I didn’t upload it correctly (image was skewed by 2 degrees) and application was rejected. I had to re-upload picture after the correction and resend the whole application again. After your successful completion, you will be given a fileid which will be very important. The second step is falling-out the questionnaire. Here questions like whether your parents/grand parents belonged to Bangladesh or Pakistan will be asked and if there is a pending inquiry. Once you completed these, the next step according to Cox & Kings would be to fill out another application in their site.
Here you have to repeat what you have done in the Indian Government site. Then will be given a six page instruction sheet where you have to pick and choose the documents that need to be attached to your application. Notary has to certify your passport copy and certify an affidavit stating that parents confirm the name and age of their children. Then get a Money order (not money gram or personal check or any other such instrument). Once these are completed, attach two copies of the photo in addition to your old visa before sending it to the third party (Cox&Kings).
With patience and little whining, I completed the application and sent it. Once they received it, I got the acknowledgment and tracking info. I pulled up the tracking and saw thirteen steps and more than 60 business days before you get the visa. Within few days, I got the notice that the application is on hold due to incomplete documentation. Then I check and see the discrepancy with regards to the picture. In re-upload, reprint and send the application again. They received it and it appears that the third party provider has shipped over my application to consulate for processing. So I am eagerly waiting for the outcome of that process unless they find some other discrepancy and I had to resend the documents.
I get it that India is developing country and they have to follow colonial processes and bureaucracy. But I wonder who came up with this complicated process to renew the visas. Do they not want their non-resident Indians come back? what is the motivation or reasoning behind making such a complicated process? why do they need so much documentation and notary? I keep asking the questions and find no answers.