Ok, i have been working for about a week to gather the information we need to get travel visas for India. along the way, various things have occurred to me; some i should have realized earlier, some i learned only during the online application process, some i just learned by trying. i am going to share them here so maybe you won’t be frustrated like me 🙂
- when you email the visa office, and they send an auto response stating they will get back to you in 48 hours with an appropriate response, it’s a bit of a fib. i have emailed twice in the last 8 days and have gotten no response whatsoever, other than the auto-response… twice. i am a proponent of getting things in writing, which is why i opted to try the email route; it seems as though they are not a proponent of providing things in writing. it’s probably better to call them, which hopefully i will be able to do tomorrow. for those of us with jobs that generally coincide with office hours, it’s sometimes a challenge to make these phone calls.
- read the visa requirements very carefully, even if they appear in various spots, for example, it says certain things in the guidelines for surrogacy (pertaining to medical visa) that i haven’t yet seen on the visa online application (though i am not done the application yet, so it may show up). bottom line, be thorough about your research, and don’t count on mine, because it’s not complete yet, and i may forget to put stuff down later when i finish various steps. here’s what i know so far:
- you will need two, matching passport type photos to scan and attach to your online application – there are specific measurements and requirements listed on the India Visa website
- you will need your passport to be valid for another six months, so it’s best to renew if you are unsure
- you will need to know your dates of travel (i know, this freaks me out. because how can you commit to traveling if you don’t know if you will get your visa approved?)
- you will need a “reference” in India – this can just be your hotel, so you have to book your hotel prior to the visa application process
- you will need a reference in Canada (or your home country – similar to passport i would imagine)
- there are LOTS of questions, they want to know about your citizenship, marital status, previous travel in the last ten years, employment, education, etc, etc, etc. prepare to sit for awhile and fill in the application.
- there are many types of visas, with different durations, entries, prices, so make sure you apply for the right one. right now we are wondering if we HAVE TO enter on a tourist visa to sign the contract, or if we can use a medical visa for a year, with multiple entries and forgo the tourist visa altogether. all these trips are related to the surrogacy, so we are hoping so. i will find out when i call, i am sure.
- VERY IMPORTANT – it seems that on the guidelines for surrogacy, we need a letter from our home country foreign affairs to state that surrogacy is recognized and that our baby will be allowed entry into the country after it is born. i didn’t realize you need this letter to be attached to the medical visa application, so basically i need it now. and i don’t have it. so i am trying to get it. but the foreign affairs office is closed. so tomorrow maybe i will have some answers 😐
- learn your own government a bit, so you can figure out where to call. as luck would have it, i have dealt with very friendly people who have gone above and beyond to try to point me in the right direction. i don’t think surrogacy happens willy-nilly, so every person in every contact centre probably hasn’t dealt with a case. kudos to friendly government employees who want to help!
- keep a book where you can write down things like office hours and time zones, who you spoke to and at what time, various things you learned along the way. it will be useful to you in the future, i promise. if for nothing else than to write in a blog to help others after you. but seriously, my motto has always been, “if you don’t know who you talked to on the phone, the conversation never happened.” i can’t deal with it when people whine to me that they had a big conversation with their telephone service provider where they were given a great deal, but then it didn’t show up on their bill, and they have no clue who they talked to, on what day, and at what time… doh!
i am probably missing something here in this list, but i need to go out and get those matching passport type photos soon, so will sign off.