Getting a visa can be a tricky business. For some, popping down to the High Commissioner’s application office sounds very glamorous. I can assure you it is neither of those things. You don’t need a third party to help you get a visa – they charge a ridiculous amount. You, yes you, can do it all on your own. Well, I’m confident you can at least sort a visa to India. I did it the other day, and if I can do it, so can you. Here are my seven pearls of wisdom (#7POW) on how to apply for an Indian Visa.
Obviously depending on your own individual circumstances, such as what type of visa you need (tourist, business etc), you might need to include additional documents as part of your application. For example, I applied for a business visa which meant that I had to include a letter of employment and an invitation letter.
A quick, free and easy way to see exactly what documents you will need is to visit CIBTvisas. Fill in two boxes (none of which are your personal details) and you will be presented with a list of things you’ll need to include (as well as few helpful tips and templates). If you really wanted to you could submit your application through CIBTvisas. However, they do charge for that service and I’m confident you can do it on your own.
Make sure that your passport is valid, has at least six months left on it after your planned return date, and importantly, that it has a double (two page) space for the visa. You’d be amazed at how many people I heard saying that they’d waiting hours to have their application processed, for it then to be turned away because of a problem with the validity of their passport. It’s an easy thing to check right at the start of the process, so be smart.
You need to pop online to visit VFS.Global. It operates the online portal on behalf of the India Visa Application Centre (who are authorised by the High Commission of India, London). If you Google search for “Indian Visa” you’ll be bombarded by different companies offering the service. VFS. Global is the official one you should use. Follow the onscreen prompts to complete, print and submit the information. You can park your application half way through (you’re asked for a lot of info) – just make sure you make a note of your application number.
Following the prompts you should now have a print out of your online application. If you’ve printed double-sided don’t worry, that’s perfectly fine. You now need to sign the application in two places – one on each page where marked. Make sure you use black ink.
Don’t be blasé about this task. Unlike the standard passport size, you’ll need two identical 5cm x 5cm photographs. Make sure the background is white too. If you pop along to somewhere like Snappy Snaps they can take your photo for you. Stick one of the photographs to the print out of your online application form and put the other one in an envelope. You might prefer to upload a photograph as part of your application, but as I didn’t use that method I can’t comment on the ease.
♥ Speedy Turnaround
If you’re in a rush and need to submit your visa application, get it processed and handed back to you in one quick swoop, this pearl is for you. You’ll need to submit your application online and then head down to the application centre with your supporting documents. I visited the one in London (142-148 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7DU) – it’s a ten minute straight-forward walk from Barbican tube station.
Make sure you make an appointment in advance (using the online portal) and request a morning slot. If you don’t visit in the morning they won’t be able to process it there and then for you, and you’ll have to collect it another day. You could just chance your luck and walk in (without an appointment), but it was pretty crowded when I visited and I overheard some people saying they’d been waiting hours. Even if you have a pre-scheduled appointment you’ll be given a ticket number upon arrival and will have to wait for your number to be called before you can go to the counter. I had to wait ten minutes later than my pre-booked slot.
♥ Postal Service
You can avoid a trip to the application centre by submitting your visa application via the post. I’d highly recommend that you use a guaranteed/special delivery postal service to ensure your valuable passport reaches the application centre. Also, you need to ensure that you send your information to
1-3, Canalside, Uxbridge Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB4 0JN. This address is different to the face-to-face centre, so don’t get them confused.
See, easy peasy. I’ve now successfully got two Indian visas for colleagues in the last two weeks – if I can do it so can you. If you have any further tips to add to this list please leave a comment. You can find guidance, advice and tips on the VFS.Global site too.
Enjoy your travels in India! X