So one week ago I sat down at the computer ready to fly through the application process in order to get my visa. I already have a passport but India requires a visa as well. Six hours later (which did include a lunch break with my lovely wife) I had all the forms and copies of most everything I needed to move on to step 2. Why did it take 6 hours? The Indian Embassy I have to submit my paperwork to is in Huston, TX, so it all has to be done via mail. The online form you fill out also takes you to a third party website that has all the requirements and extra forms you need to make sure everything goes through properly. Well… the third party website did not seem to be finding me in the system and I had already filled out the first form. After calling the center on the phone and then being put on hold for over 30 minutes, the operator took me back to a page I had been to at least 5 times before. He assured me that all I needed to do was follow the prompts. I thanked him and quickly got off the phone since I was having a difficult time understanding him due to his Indian accent (I hope this is not an indication of things to come). I tried once again and alas… I was still in the same place as when I called. I dialed the number again and prayed for someone who would #1 be patient with me and #2 would not have a heavy accent. God was gracious and answered both prayers. This operator asked how long had it been since I had filled out the forms on their site. I said at least an hour ago. He explained I would not show up in their database for at least 2-3 hours. I wish the website or the first operator had told me that to begin with. This seemed a good time to break for lunch. Subway was in order. (On a side note, when I did some investigating where I will be in India, I found a Subway not far from the college. I may be eating there quite a bit.)
After lunch I proceeded to log back in and whatdaya know… there I was in filled out forms and data. I clicked to pay the processing fee ($155 - OUCH!) and moved along to getting the checklist for all the documents and forms that need to be sent via FedEx to Huston. Everything is very specific. My next hurdle? I need proof of address… simple… my driver’s license qualifies but it needs to be valid for at least 6 months pending. My license expires this year in September only 4 months away. I can use a utility bill in my name (which seems crazy) but the utilities are in “Kevin Boesiger” and all my formal documents are “Ross Boesiger.” Would they take the time to notice my middle name or flag the application? The checklist is SO specific it makes it seem like if you forget to cross a “t” or dot an “i” they will not issue the visa. Another option was to send in Tami’s drivers license and a copy of our marriage certificate. Her license would show the address and the certificate would prove we live together. I made plans to drive to Lincoln on Friday and get everything sent from the FedEx shipping center.
Friday came and I went through the checklist one last time to make sure I had everything that was needed. Not only did I send in Tami’s license and our marriage certificate but I also included a current gas bill that listed me as “R Kevin Boesiger.” I did not want to take the chance of not having what they needed. The clerk at FedEx took my picture with a white background and asked me to remove my glasses. “Nope, they have to stay on,” I told her, “it was one of the requirements listed in the checklist.” I tilted my head down to prevent glare on my lens and the result was a stunning mugshot that will now be part of my legal documents for the next 10 years. I placed all the documents and forms in the appropriate FedEx envelope (that was specified) and said a little prayer as I handed it to the clerk. Now I wait to get an envelope back from FedEx containing my visa as well as my passport which I had to send in with all the other information. Talk about putting your faith and trust in one company.
Until next time!
This blog will journal my experiences as I prepare to go overseas this July and teach at the Asian Christian College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India.