There are many positive things about being Indian. The passport is not one of them. Chances are that if your passport is from a third-world country, then spontaneous travel plans seldom exist.
Yes, the visa struggles are real! If you don’t believe us, read on:
1. The Pain of Paperwork
If only a visa application was as simple as submitting your passport. Alas! The pain of paperwork begins.
If you’re travel addicts like us, you probably have several old invitation letters saved on your system, whether its relatives assuring that you are indeed staying with them, or your parents confirming that they will be covering the expenses of your trip. Because who knows when you may have to pop them out again.
Then there’s the fact that you have to book your non-refundable return trip flight before applying!
2. Getting Your Documents in Order
Visa applications are becoming more stringent over time – requiring both more time and money. For example, online bank statements are no longer accepted, and banks charge a fee to print original bank statements.
On top of that, you have to take time off from work to actually pay a visit to your bank.
3. When Your Passport Runs Out of Pages
Ever been confused by bureaucratic rules such as ‘Please have two blank pages on your passport,’ when you know that a visa only occupies one page on your passport ? Then again, the purpose of visa rules is to perplex.
It doesn’t help that India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issues 30-page passports. They might as well be valid for 3-years instead of 10, because the process of getting extra pages added is as tedious as applying for a new passport. Even Pakistani passports are a 100 pages: Time to up your game MEA!
4. When Embassies Don’t Have Appointment Slots
Kudos for getting your paperwork ready, but now you log onto the embassy website and find that the earliest available appointment is after your scheduled departure! Or just a few days before – if only visas took a few days!
Calling the embassy to request an emergency appointment won’t help because if you manage to miraculously get hold of somebody through the phone, you’ll learn that most embassies don’t have ‘emergency’ tourist visas.
5. Waiting at the Embassy
A consular job is not the dream job of any diplomat, but is efficient customer service with a smile too much to ask for? Apparently so, for if it’s not understaffed, it’s not an embassy. What’s worse is that most embassies make you leave all electronics at the entrance. So it’s just you and your token number for the next who-knows-how-many-hours.
6. Will I Get My Visa in Time For My Trip?
Why does it take so long to process visas? With increasing levels of personal information at the hands of governments, and larger personal-social digital footprints you’d think verifying and issuing visas would become faster.
7. When You Get a Schengen Visa for the Exact Days of Your Visit
Of course, the longer the visa, the longer the application process. But, would it hurt that much to just give a month long visa? It’s almost as if European countries don’t want to boost tourism. At least Americans regularly issue 10-year multiple entry visas.
8. You Have Considered Marrying for a Different Passport. Multiple Times.
Love at first mention of nationality? That exists, right?
9. When Your Friends With First-World Passports Ask Ignorant Visa Questions
“Wait, why do you have to show your bank statements?”
Oh those happy souls who have never experienced the struggle of getting a visa.
No, Commonwealth countries don’t have any visa privileges(or reparations).
10. When Your Country Grants Everyone Visa on Arrival
Gee thanks, Modi. Ever thought about asking them to reciprocate?
11. But When You Can Get a Visa on Arrival
Despite the administrative hurdles, Indians have a positive travel-reputation and are generally granted visas. Most often with other third-world countries. In fact there are 50-odd countries that grant Indians visa on arrival.
12. Praying to the Visa God for Extra Luck
Yes, you read that right. Many Indians embark on a pilgrimage to increase their chances of getting a visa. In fact, there are temples dedicated to improving travel prospects.
We told you the struggle is real!
This post was written in collaboration with fellow blogger Saanya Gulati.