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Warning for Pakistanis

Shanghai, China
3 posts
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Warning for Pakistanis

I'll try to avoid a disgruntled rant and just post this a caveat and hopefully a helpful warning for other travelers.

My wife and I have traveled to India twice within the last three years. The first trip for pleasure happened to be shortly after the Mumbai bombings at the Taj. We encountered no difficulties and had wonderful experiences exploring and doing business in India (My wife works in sourcing.) Her parents are Catholic Goans born in Pakistan who left Karachi in their early 20s and immigrated to Canada.

Needless to say a few years ago we initially had concerns about whether it would be easy for her to get a visa given her parents place of birth. It seems a bit silly given the particulars of her case but we had heard stories. In the end we experienced no difficulties or delay with the visa process.

On the back of that experience we planned a return trip this winter to tour Rajasthan and end in Mumbai for a few days of rest. All of a sudden there were problems. 6 days after the initial visa application I and my daughter have visas but my wife is still waiting 7 weeks later with no resolution in sight. Obviously the issue is security clearance but 7 weeks seems like an unreasonable processing time when service standards are advertised as aprox. 6 to 7 days.

Anyhow - all attempts to address this problem since our flights are within a few days have proved fruitless. All calls, emails, fax or other attempt at any communication have been ignored. We have desperately tried to get someone's attention to the situation but they have stonewalled. The Visa Application Center has been useless. After multiple visits in-person to the Consulate in Shanghai were finally able to meet with a thoroughly unpleasant and unhelpful bureaucrat who made the situation incomparably worse. Let me be clear that despite our anxiety we approached him in a very polite and courteous manner. He refused to address our concerns, had no interest in listening to anything other than lecturing us and speaking extremely dismissively and patronizingly to my wife. I got the distinct impression that he didn't appreciate being addressed at all by a woman, especially one of South Asian descent. The interview ended when he stormed out of the glassed-in office area and lecturing us that we shouldn't expect help from him as there is nothing that he can do and that what do we expect as Pakistani's looking for a visa? (My wife is a Canadian born in Canada and her parents have been Canadian citizens for over 40 years.)

After dealing with this guy we realize that our mistake was in being honest and truthful on the family information form. ( I suppose on past applications they never bothered to read this form.) We should have fudged and left it blank.

This was an entirely voluntary trip. My wife is unlikely to do business there any time soon and we just wanted to enjoy a couple weeks exploring and introducing our daughter to her grandparent's homeland and culture. There are many many other destinations in S/E Asia we could have chosen to spend our money. We arranged this trip independently, spent a lot of time researching and avoiding large tours and big hotel chains. The real losers here are the drivers, restaurants, small hoteliers and other industry employees in Rajasthan that likely depend heavily on this sort of tourist revenue.

Instead we have decided to spend the time relaxing in Singapore where we can experience India's wonderful diaspora without the interference of bumbling incompetents. Given this souring experience it's extremely unlikely that we will ever choose to visit India again. So long India! You have a beautiful people and culture - it's just a shame that your civil service fails you so miserably.

Other travelers - If you have any remote connection with Pakistan allow at least 4 months lead time on a visa and don't expect civility or help from India's government if you run into problems.

Janu Private Tours
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Rajasthan Four Wheel Drive Pvt. Ltd.
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Rajasthan Tour by Car and Driver
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Heritage India Private Tours
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New Delhi, India
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1,528 posts
16 reviews
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1. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

sorry to hear your experience. Hopefully things will get better at some point.

UK
Destination Expert
for Varkala
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124 reviews
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2. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

What a terrible tale. Must say it does not surprise me. I know what I would have put/ not put on the form:))

Jaipur, India
Destination Expert
for Rajasthan, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur
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25 reviews
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3. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

If a Pakistani visits India, they have to report to the local police station every day. Same is true for Indians visiting Pakistan. There is no need to warn Pakistanis, they already know the paranoia they will face. I do not think that a Canadian citizen would have ever faced such problem until David Headley came along.

Italy
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39,497 posts
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4. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

I think you're right you gave too much information if she had just applied as a Canadian citizen she probably wouldn't have had a problem.

Shanghai
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306 posts
87 reviews
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5. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

You don't have the option of what information to provide. All applicants have to fill out the same forms. It quite clearly asks the applicant the date and place of birth of both parents. Our error apparently was to be truthful. However I don't like to like on an official document no matter how ridiculous it is. In hindsight we should have left the information blank and forced them to follow up with us or refuse the visa. My guess is that they wouldn't have bothered as we provided the same info the last two trips without causing a problem.

I should have clarified - My warning is more for those like us who aren't Pakistani but have perceived ties to Pakistan. Other Canadians/Americans might have similar issues. Although I suppose the Americans have a whole new set of problems to deal with at the moment.

UK
Destination Expert
for Varkala
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9,664 posts
124 reviews
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6. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

It is not so much about the Pakistani connection and the length of time it takes to get a visa, if indeed one is granted, but more about the lack of customer care. Ignoring customers by refusing to communicate in any form is downright rude and not acceptable. And what is more to the point they seem to think this is ok. Not so chummies. These people (bureaucrats) ought to realise they only have these jobs because there are customers who want to go to India and to do so will need a visa.

I have had less than satisfactory service only a couple of times here in the UK. Once from the Indian High Commission, London. The same sort of thing as the original poster. Ok they wanted to ignore me and the situation. There is always more than one way to skin a cat. A quick call to the Deputy High Commissoner's office and my phone line was red hot for the next half hour. Problem and visa sorted within the hour:)) (This was in the days when we got our visas direct from the High Commission).

The second occasion was the inability or refusal by VFS to deal with an important technical glitch with their online system. An email to the Press Office at the High Commission had the problem sorted that day.

They need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Shanghai, China
3 posts
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7. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

@ lgirl. Yes. India's system still seems to be a bit rooted in the "who you know" school of public administration. I.e. total gridlock until you find a loose thread somewhere up the chain of command and start pulling on it. Rather disappointing for those without connections in high places or the wherewithal to chase through the bureaucratic maze.

Full disclosure here. I work in Immigration for my country so I am very familiar with the problems and challenges posed by increasing traveler numbers. Trust me - this attitude towards client service is pervasive throughout the industry regardless of country. There are those among my international colleagues in NZ, Aus, UK, US, Germany, Vietnam etc... who I am proud to know and work alongside. They have a progressive and professional view and a client focused mentality. Especially among the younger set. But there is still a LOT of dead wood in the system. Antediluvian characters who view the public they serve as annoying supplicants and themselves as privileged gate-keepers.

The wide-spread adoption of third party Visa Application centers by most countries is a disaster for travelers. They tout the benefits of online services and supposedly better customer care however this is clearly not the case. Why would it be? They make their money as middle-men and have little motivation to sort out logistical problems by using common sense. We use one in my department and I am opposed to it having watched our client service quickly deteriorate. It's just another way of isolating the bureaucrats from the people they supposedly serve.

Jaipur, India
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8. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

Stunning !!! information given by you

9. Re: Warning for Pakistanis

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