Saturday, 5 April 2014

Visas, zombies and Pakistanis trying to visit India

There are a few trends in futuristic movies that give you a pretty good idea where we are headed: 

- Borders are going to become meaningless once we discover and start interacting with other life in the universe. It is all going to be about which planet or galaxy are you from? We are going to need visas for planets, not countries. 
- There is going to be zombie apocalypse and, borders and visas will become irrelevant. Immigration officials will have become zombies themselves or be trying to run away. No one is going to bother you for a visa. You will not have to go online and find that visa application, print it, and attach a thick file of supporting documents to apply for a visa. Visa fees will also be unnecessary. 
- The destruction of our planet due to capitalism, environmental degradation and climate change is going to render borders meaningless. No one is going to have time to ask you for passport and visa once we all go under water or start getting frozen with another ice age. 
- Of course, things could also go the other way and, the severe inequality between the poor and rich of this world could lead to increased fortification. Forget visas between countries, within countries, the rich will enclose themselves in gated communities and, there will be considerable restriction of movement. 
- With powerful countries like the US spying on the whole world's e-mails and, withow visas, passports and bio-metric data are digitised and all information is stored on government data bases, movement of people is going to be even more controlled. 

Image from: Bollyhorror: Pakistani Zombies and Zibahkhana
Take your pick, but most futuristic films do not paint a very good picture of where we are headed. We are not willingly going to let go of borders or class. 

Meanwhile, I am here in Islamabad, Pakistan and, trying to get to India. I have been here for weeks now but have got nowhere to actually submitting my application. It's partially my fault - I should have done my homework before I left Liberia and, saved lots of time. 

This is the list of crap - sorry, requirements - for Pakistani passport holders who just want to visit

  1. Applicants should have a valid invitation from their relative/host in India. For visitor visa, the invitation (see sample invitation affidavit) should be on stamp paper essentially mentioning that he/she is inviting his/her relative from Pakistan and undertakes to bear full responsibility for the visit. In the case of business visa, an invitation letter from the Indian organization is required which clearly mentions the name of the Pak national, his designation, the places to be visited in India, their addresses and duration of the visit.
  2. Validity of the passport should be at least 6 months from the date of submission of the application.
  3. All previous passports should be attached. This is not required if the current passport has an Indian visa. In case any previous passport cannot be attached, an affidavit stating the loss of passport and copy of FIR translated into English may be provided.
  4. Pakistanis holding dual nationality must apply on their Pakistani passports only.
  5. The following modes of travel and entry/exit points in India are allowed:

By Air Entry Mumbai/Delhi/Chennai

Exit Mumbai/Delhi/Chennai
By Rail Entry/Exit Attari/Munabao
By Bus Entry/Exit Attari

And, these are some more requirements:

From Pakistan:
Copy of the NADRA card along with English translation clearly indicating the address.

Copy of the electricity bill/gas bill/landline telephone bill (Any two).

3. Any one of the following:

For Employees working in the Government, a letter from either the Head of the Department or copy of the clearance received from the Government of Pakistan/Provincial Government.

For an employee in the private sector, a letter from the organization giving the details of designation, duration of service and address of the applicant.

For self-employed businessman, a copy of their Registration Certificate with the Government along with an English translation (if not in English)

From India:

Affidavit from relative/host in India indicating willingness to bear responsibility of the visit. Address and telephone number of the host must be clearly indicated.

Documents such as electricity bill, telephone bill, ration card, Election I-card of the relative/host in India identifying clearly the address (any two)

Can you believe that the visa itself is only 15 rupees? Lekin miley to sahi....

By the way, these lists do not include the polio vaccination requirement. You learn that from somewhere else on the website while completing the online application which you have to print 2 copies of. I got it done a few weeks ago

I got a sponsorship certificate after my friend managed to find the right official who could attest the letter. I was sent a scanned copy. I prepared my crap - sorry, supporting documents - and went to the visa centre.  India, like so many other countries, has outsourced the visa application process (at least submitting the visa itself) to companies. 

After I surrendered my mobile phone and, the diaper bag to the security, I went in to the front desk where the chaps were checking to see if I had all the correct crap - sorry, supporting documents - before I go in to submit my visa. They told me I had to have an original certificate and, some other crap - sorry, supporting documents. I got nowhere close to submitting my visa.

I came out huffing and puffing. I thought I had all the crap - sorry, supporting documents - I needed. I needed to translate my NADRA card too, for instance, and attach that, too.  Haresh often complains that I skim while reading but I do not remember reading anywhere that the sponsorship certificate needs to be an original. 

I should have cross referenced all the sources of information: the website, sub-links in the website, and the Gerry's hotline for Indian visas (8111). 

I called up Haresh and demanded why his country was making it so difficult for us innocent Pakistanis to visit his country? He says, "I knew you had to submit an original certificate. I was waiting for you to goof up." I love Indians.

So, I asked my friend to send me the sponsorship certificate through the mail. Until then, I'm going to have a cup of tea and watch a zombie movie. 

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