Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Intro to...India: Part 1 - Getting a Visa to India

An Intro to…India: Part 1 – Getting Your Visa 
(in 6 not so easy steps)




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Arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India

1. Before you begin your visa process, you will need someplace to stay. This is because you will have to enter information for a reference in India, usually the name of the manager of your hotel and you have to give estimated dates. (I strongly recommend booking your flight, then apply immediately for the 10 year visa. Get trip insurance and check to see if you can file a claim in case you are not approved for your visa.) 

2. Get two passport type photos. It cannot be the photo you have currently on your passport, it must be different. Scan that photo to your laptop or desktop. If you don’t have access to a scanner, then you will have to take a very good photo of the picture with your phone and email it yourself or download it to a computer. If you do this, make sure it is a clean shot, without reflections, in good color, and cropped correctly. In addition to the cropping, the photo has to be a certain file size and must be JPEG. If this is beyond your capabilities, you will need someone to do this for you. Have them save the file on a flash drive or email it to you. You must be able to access it (browse to find it) and upload it.


3. Get the visa. The entire process is complicated and you must be computer savvy. You will have two choices: the traditional visa, good for 10 years with multiple entries, and an electronic version, where you are approved online and then your passport is stamped upon arrival. The e-visa is good for a month and valid for one entry. This means you plan to enter and leave once rather than coming in, perhaps jumping to another country and then coming back.
 
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Artwork in Indira Ghandi International Airport


4. You should not complete this application on a phone or a tablet. You have to apply online with a persnickety website guaranteed to freeze up or crash at any time. Cox and Kings Global Services is the official issuer of the traditional visa, https://www.in.ckgs.us/. You go through a series of fields on many pages. Take the site’s advice and write down all temporary reference numbers. You’ll need it for the inevitable crash when you have to log in again.

5. At the end, choose between whether you want to complete the process at the embassy or have it mailed to you. You cannot start the process in person. Either make an appointment or do the complicated process of mailing in your passport for the visa. Obviously, you need to begin this process at least two months before your departure. Whichever you choose (appointment or mailing), you will have to print out the application and you should also save a PDF version and email it to yourself just in case. 

6. Should you choose the e-Visa, you start that process at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. The application is basically the same but this visa is cheaper, can be completed closer to your departure date (I would recommend no closer than 2 weeks, although you are allowed to do this 4 days out) and you receive an approval rather than the actual visa. The photo requirement is the same. Once you are approved, you have to print it out. When you land, you will go to the e-Visa line, rather than the tradition line to be processed. You will put your fingerprint in the machine, they take your picture, stamp your process and then, voila!, welcome to India.


 
When leaving Indira Ghandi Airport, pay attention to the time!


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