Monday, October 13, 2008

Indian Visa

I'm helping a friend sort out a couple of visas online to get to India; they did try to do it in person but after waiting in a long queue they were told that the forms they'd downloaded from the Consulate were out of date and that they'd be a processing fee for hand-written applications anyway.

So they turned to me. The Indian consulates in their wisdom have outsourced their visa service to one company; meh you might think except that said company has a service charge for using them.

Ah well we delved in anyway. Where do you want to go to get your visa London, Edinburgh or Birmingham? Not exactly a choice and checking their Jurisdiction page West Midlands is handled by the Brummies.

Onto the forms, and what a PITA, full family details including birthplace, having to repeat information, filling in large amounts of "NA"s into mandatory fields such as Sponsor Details - "It's a [beep]ing Tourist Visa for [beep]s sake you've already asked me that [beep]ing question you piece of [beep]" and asking for a residential address twice on two different pages . As you can imagine I got a little bit frustrated by this along with the fact that once you start filling in the form you can't save it and return to complete it later; it's all or nothing.

So we finally fill in the pair and it saves them. Now as they're applying by post it means stuffing the paperwork in an envelope and sending it off. One of the first questions was how you wanted to get everything back. You can pick things up in person or have them posted back for a fee of £7.40. Except you can also add in pre-paid envelopes, but it doesn't tell you if the charge is for the postage or to pay for someone to stuff them in said envelopes.

The number they give to contact them on is a premium 09 number which tells the caller to call during office hours - except of course this was office hours. Heading up the chain the next day no-one was in London as it was a holiday.

Finally managed to get through to someone only to find that Worcestershire isn't in the West Midlands as they use the police area designations.

Back online and try to change the form for application to London and you can't change it. Application Centre, telephone number, email address none of these things can be altered if you made a mistake. [Beep]ing [beep]ers; just fired off an email asking how we can proceed and await a response. The only upside of this is that we didn't add any payment information so no money has been lost, which it would have been for an invalid application.

[Update - 15/10: Automated reply thanking me for the query they'll "revert within 24 hrs"]