Friday, January 13, 2012

Renewing X Visa in Bangalore

Hello friends and readers. First of all, apologies for the lack of updated stories on this blog. As some of you may have heard, I’ve been busy getting married (more on that later). I know what’s going through your mind right now – I have no right to this blog title anymore or that I should change it to something like 30s, married in India, but I disagree and you can’t make me change it!

This blog post I hope is more helpful than not to some foreigners residing in Bangalore on X visas. Or if you’re not in that category and can’t relate, maybe you can um, enjoy it anyway. ☺

Nobody told me that it was going to be this painful getting my X visa renewed in Bangalore. If I haven’t convinced you by the end of this post, then maybe I’m just a whiner. But seriously, if you have a choice to renew your visas in your own country, do it! But if you don’t, and want to experience “Amazing Race” Bangalore-style, this is what you have to do (the procedure below is of course, subject to change at any given time). I’ve also included suggestions on how to keep your sanity “normal”.

1. Drop by the FRRO office to pick-up the latest forms and checklist of requirements.
Note: Requirements on the checklist may not be up to date, so make sure to ask if they have any new rules.

2. New Rule (also depend on whether or not your visa has expired). Visit your local police station to get a piece of printed WORD document indicating you have no criminal records. If you go during teatime, the police officer might offer you a little plastic cup of (overly sweetened but delicious) chai.
Bring along: photocopies of your registration paper, passport, spouse’s passport & PAN card and a passport size photo of yourself.

3. Old Rule but New Venue. Visit one of the bigger post offices to get a non-judicial stamp paper (aka e-stamp). Pick up the form from the post office and on the form fill out Party #1 as you, and Party #2 as the FRRO. The stamp paper is worth Rs100 (plus a Rs10 fee) and the whole purpose of this exercise is so your promise to the FRRO to not take any jobs or do any businesses in India while you’re on an X visa is stated on piece of paper. Why and how the postal people are going to enforce this promise of yours, I don’t know.
Post office. Note: According to the postal person, the new way of making an e-stamp is through a website which is only available on weekdays between 9am-2pm but keep in mind it's lunchtime between 1pm-1:30pm, so to avoid standing on a queue that wraps around the block, go at 9am.

4. Photocopy all your documents. If you’re unsure if you should include a certain document, include it anyway. I’m on an X visa because I’m married to an Indian so I had to bring copies of my husband’s passport, his PAN card, my FIL’s PAN card, and the list goes on). Organize your documents in order of the checklist or they’ll make you do it at the Scrutinized Counter (this will make more sense later).

5. Submission of Application.
  • Step One: Wake up bright and early (because the officers have lunch at exactly 1:30 pm-2 pm and you want to try to get through as many officers as possible before lunchtime). Have a big, healthy (and happy) breakfast. Before you leave home, look over your checklist and docs to make sure you have all your copies (and originals). Bring a bottle of water, a good book to read and your passport.
  • Step Two: Go to the FRRO and get a token. Wait.
  • Step Three: When your token number is called, go up to the counter and get your documents checked. You may proceed to the level above. Wait.
  • Step Four: Wait at close to the Scrutinized Counter (While you’re waiting, feel free to walk up to the scrutinizer officer once in a while and ask when is your number going to be called. I noticed many people jumping queue and the officers were more than willing to scrutinize them first before you, even though their numbers were much higher and should come after you. I’m not suggesting you should jump queue, I’m asking you to remind the officers, who seems to forget, they should be following the numbers as well.) When your token number is called, walk up to the counter with your documents.
  • Step Five: You can now proceed to the lady sitting under the “IO/ISH” sign so your documents can be checked/scrutinized for the third time.
  • Step Six: Go over to the Immigration Service Centers (other side of the room from the “IO/ISH” lady) so someone can receive your scrutinized documents and hand you your next assignment.
  • Step Seven: Go to the nearest bank to get a Demand Draft (DD). Make sure to make the draft in favor of the exact name on the small piece of paper that was handed to you on Step Six. My father-in-law wrote a check to get me the DD, so I’m unsure here if you can pay cash. Make a copy of the DD.
  • Step Eight: Back to the FRRO. Drop off your DD at Counter 1 and the photocopy of the DD at Counter 2 or 3. Wait (this time, someone will tell you how long your wait will be). When your time is up, your passport with an X Visa extension stamp as well as your Registration Paper should be ready for collection.

Good luck!

The FRRO in Indiranagar