Friday, December 25, 2009

Indian Visa strikes back

On Wednesday, the BBC carried a report on how the Indian government has tightened its visa rules for foreigners, causing incredible inconvenience to British and American tourists. The trouble was apparently regarding whether a foreigner who left India while living-out his long term visa could or could not re-enter India within two months.

The British Business Secretary Lord Mandelson was riled enough to state to the Press Trust of India: "I can understand the motive for the new visa arrangements but we have to be careful not to make, create general restrictions."

Mandelson's retort came on the day I got my paltry six-days, single entry Schengen visa.

I had applied for one-year multiple entry visa to continental Europe the week before so that Sid and I could organise our travel plans through the year. However, the visa officer turned around and said that she will only grant me a single entry visa. Why? Because I don’t have job.

Me: My Australian husband has a full-time job?

Visa officer: Yes.

Me: I have residencies to the UK and Australia on the basis of our marriage?

Visa Officer: Yes.

Me: I have had residencies to Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands in the past, and have never flouted visa regulations?

Visa Officer: Yes.

Me: You have all our bank account statements?

Visa Officer: Yes.

Me: So?

Visa Officer: Sorry, you don’t have a job, you are Indian, and we can’t grant you a multiple entry visa.
Does the Austrian embassy actually think that I will risk becoming an illegal alien in a Schengen country when I am a perfectly legal alien in the UK (with the choice of being one in Australia)?

I don’t think so. It is just an occasion of visa arrangements making, creating general restrictions.

I wonder what Mandelson’s views would be on that.

 Incidentally, in August I called up the immigration office in the UK for a clarification regarding my UK residency. The electronic voice informed me that the office was too busy to attend any calls all through August and September, and if I had any doubts about my visa status could I please leave the country. How’s that for general restrictions?


Girish Shahane said...

The question is, how many illegal immigrants from the European Union are there in India? Not every arrangement need be perfectly reciprocal.
Also, visitors use tourist visas to do business in India because getting business visas is virtually impossible.
I do feel your pain about the Schengen thing, though, I've had some awful experiences too.

globalbabble said...

I would have agreed with you if I wasn't so pissed off. I am not open to reason at the moment :-)