Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FRRO and the Ministry of Home Affairs

Well, it's come my turn to go register with the FRRO. Nothing here in India gets done on the first trip and this is no different but it's okay this time. We went to the local FRRO and the men working there were very professional and courteous. They explained to us how we had to first go to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Delhi and get this form filled out. Scary lol..but what could we do. We really were worried this was going to be a long drawn out thing requiring multiple trips to Delhi and we just can't afford that - money wise, time wise, job wise, etc.

So we went to Delhi and had a fairly pleasant experience at the MHA and I thought I should blog about it too so others who have to go through this would know. We arrived at the MHA about 9:15 AM and we weren't sure they would be open yet. They were and the sign said they only process visa issues from 9AM to Noon so it was good we got there early. We were handed a number token and wound up being 57 (of what I later learned was at least 165).

That was phase one. The guy at reception basically just made sure we were there on legitimate business, put us in the computer, checked to see that we had all our documents and handed us a blue slip which would allow us to gain entry to the Visa Facilitation Center (VFC). We got the slip at a little after 10 AM. During that hour in the waiting room I witnessed the man who gave out tokens do his job very well. He was professional and never rude (amazingly!) and kept the room from becoming a mad house. One girl tried to flirt her way to breaking in line. Another woman who thought she shouldn't have to wait got promptly ignored and others were told to sit down or wait outside. I like this man lol.

Then we went to the VFC as did the 56 people before us. There you turned in all your papers and waited for your interview. We sat there for 2 hours before being interviewed. I watched the man at the counter (the counters are broken up by countries being served so not everyone went to the same line after getting up there). He didn't take crap from anyone. The first sign they gave of being difficult and he asserted his authority by asking more questions and requiring more documents. Several people (some who didn't belong at his counter) tried to stare him down and ask him to take them now so they didn't have to wait. He refused which makes me like him too.

When I got called to the counter one woman told him "I'm number 99, I need my stuff done now" and he told her she would still have to wait her turn. She got so pissed. He wasn't rude and she deserved it. She had just got there less than 10 minutes before that! Some people can be just ridiculous. I hope she didn't honestly believe she deserved more attention than the 98 people who chose to arrive at the office before her. Ugh....crazies.

Anyway, I was thanking God I was prepared for that interview. I had no idea what was going to happen there or why we were really there lol. I filled out the form like I was told. (BTW, the form is simple and requires name/address/passport and visa numbers and a check mark beside what you are there for.) I sat down, he asked for this, that and that and I had all of it neatly organized in my file to hand him with haste. It took less than 2 minutes and he told me come back at 5! Waaahooo!!!

I couldn't help but be excited. It almost seemed too easy. So many others there were having problems. One guy was sent away twice because he didn't have what he needed (he also had an expired passport with holes punched in it) and then his mom laughed when she pushed her way through and tried to force this man to do her work anyway. I don't think the look on the interviewers face looked like a man who was going to do what she wanted. At the end of the day, she got her sealed brown envelope anyway, just like everyone else.

That's really all that happens at 5 pm. They hand you a sealed brown envelope with an address on the front. It is not to be opened by anyone else but the office it is addressed to. So you have no way of knowing if the interview was a success or failure until that office opens it. Now in my case it wasn't an interview for approval, I simply needed a form. (Turns out it was the same form I filled out with a few letters and a stamp added to it.) Others were asking for approvals for other things including PIO cards, OCI cards and visa's.

Upon arrival home we went back to the FRRO and dropped off the forms. Now is when the hard part starts. There will be a police inquiry in our home and the rest has not yet been detailed to us. So far, things have been pleasant and this is a much welcome change over what we went through with the marriage registration. I will keep you posted.

4 comments:

  1. I am now thinking about what to do, I will be coming to Amritsar later this year & I am tossing up between a Tourist Visa or Entry Visa... Thankfully even applying for PIO here is an 8 week and simplified process of what it would be like in India...

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  2. Go for the PIO card while there lol. I know ppl who have said that was hardly any trouble and you don't want to have to convert anything once you get here. You don't qualify for a tourist visa technically anyway. If you the PIO card you don't have to worry about visa's anymore and that is a blessing! We simply must go out for lunch or something when you get here!!

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  3. I can't apply for PIO until I have been married for one year... Tourist visa is easier to apply for than entry anyway...
    If I get the entry visa it will simply be so I can stay more than 2 months...
    PIO in India is a nightmare from what my friends have said, a friend of mine in Delhi has been battling the process for months - with endless house calls, extensions of her entry visa and the like...
    Indian red tape is lessened a thousand times over here - last time I got my tourist Visa with 48 hours!
    This time around I will be visiting lots of goris and seeing lots of sights - hopefully some of my family will come & hopefully our Indian wedding will take place!

    :)

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  4. Oh ok, you can also stay on a Tourist visa for 6 months. That's what I'm on now and I've been here for 4. I need an invite to your Indian wedding!!

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