Russia – 3 Day Transit Visa

We flew to Europe via Moscow a few weeks back. We decided to stay 2 nights in Moscow. For this we were able to get a “Transit” visa rather than a full Tourist Visa. The Transit Visa is much easier to get. Key requirements are listed below:

Documents Needed:

  • Hotel bookings in Moscow
  • Flight bookings showing arrival and departure from Moscow
  • Filled Application form
  • Passport sized photos
  • Approx INR 2500 per person application fee

The visa took around 10 working days to process. We applied at the Russia Visa application centre at Barakhamba Road. Had to go there with an appointment after filling the application form online.

Restriction on this visa is that your stay can’t be more than 3 days. But it saves the hassle of finding a local sponsor etc.

Moscow is one the most beautiful and friendly cities I have seen. Well worth the hassle of getting a visa.

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Slovenia – Schengen Visa

My wife and I recently got a multiple entry tourist Schengen visa from Slovenia in New Delhi. Below is an outline of the process and experience:

Application Centre: VFS at Baba Kharak Singh Marg in Delhi

Key Documents needed:

  • Filled Application Form
  • Hotel Bookings in Schengen Zone (had to have more time in Slovenia than in other countries).
  • Flight Bookings (they demanded confirmed paid-for flights)
  • Travel Insurance (I bought from ICICI Prudential).
  • About Rs. 13,000 (for two people) Application Fee paid in Cash (no credit card accepted) at VFS

We were also visiting Croatia on this trip and intended to use our Slovenia visa for Croatia as well. The VFS officer advised us that if we showed less time in Schengen zone than in Croatia, the visa will get denied.

We had to show that we were entering Slovenia multiple times, in order to get a multiple entry visa.

It took 3-4 working days to process after submitting the documents.

Overall easy process. And Slovenia is a country well worth visiting!

India ignores its Tourist Paradise, While South Korea cherishes & promote theirs

It’s a shame that the beautiful coral islands of Lakshadweep in India are going waste from a tourism perspective. Even Indian nationals require a special permit to visit Lakshadweep (http://lakshadweep.nic.in/depts/revenue/entry_permits.htm). No wonder that tourism there is not developed at all. See this photo below to understand exactly what we are wasting.
Agatti Island, Lakshadweep
See this blog for more on Lakshadweep tourism: Top Tourist Places in LakshadweepContrast this with Jeju island of South Korea. A beautiful volcanic island, that South Korea is actively promoting for tourism. Nationals of most countries do not require visas for Jeju Island – even if they do require visas for the rest of South Korea (Indian nationals included). . India should learn a thing or two from its Asian neighbours.
Photos from Jeju Island:


Get more info at the Official Site for Korean Tourism

Canada Visa – Rude staff at the Canadian Consulate, but quick processing

Visa Type: Temporary Residence (tourist visa)
Issuing Country: Canada
Application Centre: Consulate General of Canada, New York City

Duration of Visa Granted: 7 Years
Time taken for processing:Next business day

Requirements:
Standard documents — hotel bookings, flight bookings (provisional will do), 2 photos, passport, application form (beware – there are 3 different application forms to fill out), letter from employer, covering letter, marriage certificate, payslips, bank statements. Get details off their website here

Experience:
No appointment needed. Turn up in the morning between 8 and 10.30 AM, go through a security queue, and wait for your ticket number to be called. The officers who collect the documents are not helpful and don’t answer any questions. They just say “submit everything you want to submit”.

They simply told us to come the next day between 1pm and 2.30 pm to collect our passports.

Now, the collection experience was weird to say the least. They made us queue outside the building by the roadside for 10 mins first. Then the guard led us into the consulate in a line (as if we were school children). After security we were given another ticket and then our number was called after about 30 mins wait.

It was OK for me, but another person had a bad experience in front of me. This lady had lost her ticket (which you are given when submitting the application). The guards refused her entry saying that “if you went to a baseball game without a ticket, would they let you in?” … my argument (which I voiced right there – to deaf ears!) “This is not a bloody baseball game”. The lady was basically denied her passport because she had lost this ticket. She was offered no alternative way to get her passports back. I can only hope she figured some way out. If you try calling the embassy for help, their automated voice system only says “we don’t handle visa related enquiries”!! Why bother with publishing a phone number at all! Crazy!

Key points to keep in mind:
1. No appointment needed.
2. Need 30 mins to submit application.
3. Need 1 hour to collect passports
4. Be prepared to stand in line (in the open-air) for 15-20 minutes at collection.
5. Don’t loose your application ticket (issued when applying) else you will not get your passport back!

USA L1 visa application – on an Indian Passport

So, my company is planning to send me to New York for 6 months, on a blanket L1 visa. Application is in process, will keep you updated. But one sticking point so far — I have been with my company for exactly 12 months. And in that period I spent 30 days in the USA during a number of trips. Apparently, I cannot count those 30 days towards my 1 year with the company. So I have to wait for a month, before I can apply!

Update!
As usual the US embassy were super efficient. The appointment tool roughly 2 hours. My L2 visa (and my wife’s L2 Spouse visa) was approved on the spot. We got our passports by courier on the 4th business day after our appointment (appointment was on a Monday, got the passports on the Friday).
Only slight headache was that the embassy’s credit card machine wasn’t working. We Indians need to pay a ‘fraud protection’ fee of $500. So I had to go out of the embassy and get cash (equivalent in Pounds).

Visa Country: USA
Visa Type: L1 Intracompany Transfer and L2 Spouse
Embassy: USA Embassy in London, UK

Ireland visa waiver for Indian Passport Holders

There’s been some buzz on the internet about being able to travel to the Republic of Ireland if you have a UK Visa in your Indian passport. For a while my Wife and I have been quite excited about this, since we both want to see Ireland.

But I checked up the exact wording of the visa waiver programme. It seems that you can only visit Ireland on a UK visa if you have a Tourist or Short term business visa. Bit of a bummer for us. I am here on a work visa and my wife on a dependant visa. Looks like we will need to get an Irish visa!

Here is the link to the exact wording on the Irish embassy website:
http://www.irelandinindia.com/home/index.aspx?id=86830

Update
Three of my friends have recently entered The Republic of Ireland under the visa-waiver programme, on a UK tourist visa. Also, my wife, who is on a UK resident visa (Tier-1 Dependant), had to apply for a tourist visa to Ireland (they gave her a single-entry visa). Note: The visa was issued to her FREE of cost and took 1 week to process.