Coda: Indian visa process

We can finally breath a sigh of relief: passports have been returned to us, with six-month, dual entry visas inside. Those who followed our earlier post on the confusing process of filling out and sending the correct documents may be interested to read about what happened after we sent off our application packets, particularly if you’re considering venturing to India yourself. On the other hand, if you have no plans to obtain a tourist visa to India anytime soon, you may not want to keep reading as I suspect the details may change again someday!

First, a note on the application itself. The company to which we sent our applications is BLS International. I didn’t go into detail about the documentation we mailed in the last post because we weren’t actually sure we had done it correctly (there were various warnings about putting things in the right order per the checklist, but some instructions seemed to contradict other instructions), but in the end, it appears we did. So, in the event this is helpful for anyone, here’s what we included, clipped together with a binder clip, in this order:

  • Postal application form
  • Visa application, with passport photo glued in the appropriate spot (they stressed no staples; we used a glue stick which worked great)
  • Extra passport photo (which it turns out we may not have needed to include, as it was returned to us)
  • Passport
  • Photocopy of drivers license on regular letter size paper
  • Money order
  • Tourist Visa Checklist

All of this went into the FedEx envelope, along with a folded, prepaid return FedEx envelope. We mailed our applications separately, with separate return envelopes, because nowhere on the website mentioned anything about mailing them together, and we didn’t want to chance things getting confused.

Despite mailing them on the same day, and seeing the FedEx tracking show that they both arrived in NYC two days later, when I checked the status online (there is a tool on the BLS website for tracking your application) a day or two later, my application showed as “received” while entering Rob’s info returned a message “no documents found”. Needless to say, this didn’t comfort us.

Each subsequent day I checked, it appeared that my application was moving through the process just fine, but Rob’s was still not showing up in the tracking system.

It wasn’t until my application showed “dispatched by courier” that Rob’s finally entered the system; he received an email from BLS acknowledging receipt. He then received regular emails advising him of the status. Wondering why I didn’t get the same emails, I thought to check my spam folder – and there they were, four emails from BLS informing me of changes in status (application accepted; application submitted to consulate; processed passport received back from consulate; passport dispatched by courier, i.e. our return FedEx envelope).

Altogether my visa took about two weeks, Rob’s a week beyond that. It certainly wasn’t long to wait, although we are very glad we left ourselves plenty of time in case there were issues.

Now, just a couple of details to sort out in regards to getting into Nepal and back…

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