India may be the world’s largest democracy but is also the world’s largest bureaucracy. Applying for an Indian visa online is a prime example of its bureaucratic stranglehold.  It is a difficult and frustrating process and tests your patience and stamina before you even set foot on Indian soil.

The following steps and hints will help you fill out India’s online visa application and navigate your way around this difficult process:

STEPS:

1.     Click on http://www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/ and follow the link for the online visa application.  

 

 

2.  Choose the Indian mission in your own country.

 

3.     Follow instructions and answer all questions.

4.     Upload a current photo of yourself onto the application form.

(a) Use a digital camera/webcam or scan a physical photo. 

       (b) Photograph parameters for photo:

   §  Image Format – JPEG

   §  Size of Image – Minimum 10 KB – Maximum 300 KB

   §  The height and width of the photo must be equal:

               (a)The minimum dimensions are 350 pixels (width) x 350                

               (b)The maximum dimensions are 1000 pixels (width) x 1000

5.  A physical photo is also required which you can attach to your application.  I used passport photos.  

6.  Provide payment online with a credit card or in person to nearest Indian Consulate.

7.   For your children's visa, there are additional forms to print and complete.  Provide photocopies of birth cerficates and parents' passports and ensure that both parents sign the form giving consent for the child to travel to India.

8.  Post application to nearest Indian Consulate or attend in person.

9.  Indian Visa granted.

 

HELPFUL HINTS:

1.     Give yourself plenty of time to complete the application. Don’t begin it when you are tired or late at night.  It will be too frustrating when things go wrong. 

2.     Work quickly or else you will be timed out and will have to start from the beginning, especially if making payment online.

3.     Be prepared for nothing to work.  You must become frustrated and annoyed before the site will work again.

4.     Complete the entire application in one sitting.  Don’t be fooled by the reference number that in theory is supposed to enable you to complete the form at a later time.  It doesn’t work and you will have to start again from the beginning.

5.     Be prepared to enter your own parents’ personal details.  Despite being a grown man or woman, you will need to supply their details making you feel like a child once again.

WHEN APPLYING FOR A VISA, DO NOT APPLY TOO EARLY AS THE TIME BEGINS FROM THE DATE OF VISA.

I must admit that this process has not been easy.  It has been a challenging experience not to mention the cost of over $600 for six visas. But I have learned a lot from this experience. It has taught me to let go, be patient, accept delays but most importantly laugh. This should hold me in good stead for India, I hope.