Immigration stamp

Immigration stamp

I had an appointment to hand in my visa applications last Friday and my experience was very good. Simple, quick and very professional staff too.

Now, whilst I haven’t got my visas yet the lady at the visa office thought everything would be absolutely fine and that gave me the reassurance I wanted. Hopefully late next week I’ll have my visas in my hand.

So why did it go well? Well, that’s easy, I read all the advice and checklists on the web site used for the online application, in.vfsglobal.co.uk.

An outline of the process is that you have to complete an online form and state whether you will send in the application or take it in personally, as I did. Once completed online you print your application off, sign it twice, stick one photo (50mm x 50mm) in the box and keep another photo with the application. If you’re going to visit one of the application centres then you book an appointment first. One person can submit many applications so I only needed one appointment slot for four submissions.

Whilst I was there – for the 20 minutes it took – people were coming in, being sent away to get the correct photo size; returning with a letter from their company; being sent away to get their wife’s passport; having to get photocopies of various documents; arguing with the staff about the rules of just about everything. In a quiet moment the person I was dealing with asked why was everybody so rude to them – sounds like the start of a Jaipur gem scam doesn’t it? – and all I said was “because they couldn’t be bothered to read all the advice on the web site”.

One guy tried to argue that his wife’s passport wasn’t needed, that his kids were British citizens and didn’t need visas: clearly he hadn’t read any of the rules. He got pretty irate, he left without a visa and I doubt he’ll get much help when he returns either, being so rude and all.

 

Photos
The one area of concern I had was that I chose to do my own 50mm x 50mm photos, using my own camera and printer. Admittedly it took me a little while to do but the end result was that they accepted the photos and I didn’t have to pay anywhere near the prices I’d see quoted, like £15 per person for 4 photos. Bearing in mind I was getting 4 visas I’ve saved myself upto £60.

 

Areas of confusion
Two areas of confusion I had were:

  • when we did our last visa applications in 2009 we sent up two return envelopes for 4 passports. We did the same this time but were told we had to have one envelope for each passport. With just a saving of £1 between providing your own stamped-addressed envelope and them sorting out the courier I’d suggest it’s not worth doing your own.
  • for my children’s applications it wasn’t clear whether they needed to sign them or not. I decided to take three copies of each application; one they didn’t sign; one they did sign; one that I had signed. I gave in the one they had signed first and was asked to countersign it, writing FATHER in brackets next to it.

 

And for a child’s application don’t overlook

  • The advice on the site said that I needed to supply a letter signed by both parents, stating that both parents agreed that their children could go to India. This seemed bizarre as our kids would be travelling with us. Still, we did the letters – once for each child/application – and I’m glad we did as they were required.
  • Make sure you have a copy of both parents’ passports.
  • Make sure you have a copy of both parents’ last visa, if there was one.

 

 

P.S. I’m hoping that writing this before I’ve actually got the visas won’t be tempting fate too much.

 

 

Further reading
This post is an amended extract from the one I made on IndiaMike. It’s part of a very long thread all about people’s experiences and questions when applying for a visa in the UK for a visa to travel to India. There’s a lot of information in there so it may be worth a read.
IndiaMike.com has a whole forum dedicated to visa and passport questions.

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