My boyfriend's friend is getting married in India where his family is. We were invited to the wedding and decided to not pass up the chance and make a vacation out of it. It's supposed to me, my boyfriend, and his mom going. So far everything has been going smoothly, except for me getting my damn visa approved.
To apply for your visa you don't apply directly to the Indian Consulate, but through a third party called Cox and Kings Global Services, so I don't know where the bad service is coming from, so I guess I'll just apply equal blame, although it's probably more the third party being terrible at communication. The first concern occurred when we first went to apply for the visa, the website is so poorly translated I thought it was possibly a fraudulent site. The site looks like a terrible html AOL site from the 90's, and has tons of grammatical errors. I understand english is not their first language so there is bound to be some issues, but a lot of times it was hard to understand what they were asking for. We managed to confirm that it was the correct site through the Indian Consulate website.
Anyway, we get the applications filled out and mailed, and two weeks later my boyfriend gets a confirmation that his is all set, but I get an email saying that I need to fill out an additional journalist visa. Um, what? I'm not a journalist. The hell? Turns out, because I'm a photographer for a living I have to fill out a journalist visa, despite neither being a journalist nor traveling there for journalist reasons. I try calling the customer service line and it just plays annoying music forever and no one answers. I waited over an hour for someone to answer.
I go back to application site, and find a drop down list of different types of visas, and select the journalist one. Only there does it tell you that you need to fill out a journalist visa if you are a photographer, and a bunch of other job types that probably wouldn't be obvious to anyone they would be considered a journalist (AV services? Really?) So this kind of irks me because why couldn't this list be somewhere more obvious? Or, when I selected Photographer as my occupation why couldn't something pop up informing me I needed to fill out a different type of visa? It's confusing because on the application, the drop down list of occupations lists journalist as one of the occupations, but then also lists photographer as a different one. Well, whatever, the email I got says I can scan the new application and send it via email to them, so I do just that, and figure everything's taken care of now.
Nope. A week later I get another email saying just kidding! You can't just email the document, you have to mail it by Fedex! UGH! Okay, so the next morning I rush to Fedex before work and pay extra to have the application in their hands by 10 am the next day. Everything's fine now, right?
Of course not. Wake up this morning (exactly a week later) and there's another email from them. Silly them, they forgot to mention that in addition to the new application they were supposed to tell me I needed to send the old application, along with another $100 processing fee, and my passport again. Wait a minute, my passport?? They already have my passport! So I call them, and finally get through and try to explain to them what's going on and that I can't resend them my passport, they already have it. The person on the phone just stubbornly keeps saying "In order to process your application you will need to send us your documents as well as your passport" while completely ignoring the fact that I already mailed them my passport a month ago! It got so frustrating that I hung up on the person, freaked the fuck out in private, then called my boyfriend at work to tell him that I don't know what's going to happen at this point. Our trip is in 10 days, and I'm pretty much figuring it's not gonna happen. We're currently on a three way call waiting for someone to answer the damn phone so we can hopefully figure this out.
I've never been so frustrated, and I feel so helpless at this point. I really don't like the fact that my passport is apparently in limbo. I feel like at this point the only option we're gonna have is to go to the office in person, and that's in New York, and we live in Massachusetts. A friend of ours from Macedonia told me she had similar issues when trying to move to the US with her husband. She kept being told she needed additional documents, needed to send additional payments, etc and finally she had her husband call to help her, and the person he spoke to had no idea what he was talking about and said she didn't need any additional anything, her paperwork had been approved.
I'm freaked out too because we had no choice but to buy plane tickets and stuff while waiting for my stupid visa to be approved, so I'm worried we're gonna end up eating the cost of those tickets, almost $1,000 each. I just...I can't even think straight right now. I hope this made sense, I currently have irritating music playing in my ear waiting for someone to answer the damn phone.
EDIT: Just got off the phone with the third party people. Apparently, they again forgot to mention in the email that in order to send in a new application I was supposed to send in a withdrawal form for the original tourist visa application. Then I would have gotten my passport back, and been able to take care of all this. So now, I have to fill out this form, which I can't even find on their site (go figure) and I need to go to the office in New York tomorrow to get all this done. This trip better be damn worth it.
EDIT 2: Just realized that after paying for my stuff to be shipped twice, paying for the original application and now having to pay for the additional journalist one (almost $200), purchasing visa photos three times, and now having to drive to NY and back tomorrow, I'm only going to have about $300 left over for spending money for ten days in India :/ My boyfriend's mom is being nice and putting us all up in a hotel for a night, and offering to pay for food, but I feel awful and I was hoping to buy my family presents for Christmas while there. Blah.