As you may or may not know – I’m going to India in about two weeks WOOOOO. Unfortunately, India is one of the few countries that requires a visa for Singaporeans. So I decided to go get my visa processed today.
The visa application process goes something like this. You have to submit an application form online, with a picture. Then you have to print that form out and go to the processing office with a hardcopy picture to pay (in cash) the visa and processing fees. After which you wait 3 business days and then collect the visa from the processing office. Sounds simple? That’s what I thought too.
I submitted my application form online, with the picture and everything, last week. Today, I got my picture taken specially for the visa, and printed out the application form and headed to the processing office with my passport. After waiting for over an hour, I was called to the counter. I eagerly handed over my documents.
“Ma’am, we can’t accept this application. The picture is wrong.”
Cue confused look. “But…it’s correct. It fits in the box.” (I thought she was saying the size was wrong, because I’d followed all the instructions by the photo-taking lady to keep my hair above my eyebrows, show my ears, not smile etc.)
“No, ma’am. It cannot be sleeveless.”
-_- I thought she was kidding, but she was dead serious. I made some feeble protests about the website not mentioning any such requirements, but she insisted that I had to take a new picture.
She then continued checking my particulars on the visa application form.
“Ma’am, this part in the form is wrong.” She was pointing at the section about Occupation.
“Um? What’s wrong with it??”
“Ma’am, you must have a Company Name and Address, and also a Designation.”
“But…I’m a freelancer. I don’t work for any company. And I don’t have a designation!”
“No, ma’am. We cannot accept it like this. You have to write something.”
At this point, I was already starting to lose my patience, so I hastily agreed before she decided to find something else wrong with my application.
“And ma’am. We need your IC photocopy.”
[My IC was in my sister’s house in BUKIT BATOK.]
“There was no mention of that on the High Commission website!”
“No, ma’am. But it’s on our website.”
I felt ready to punch someone. But I managed to hold it in and gave her a very forced smile before going to re-submit my online application form, and recover the digital copy I had of my IC. Thankfully, they had two computers for people like me to use to re-submit application forms. I guess it’s a common enough situation to warrant having computers around.
So I was working my way through the application form and filling in the details, when one of their staff approached me.
“Ma’am, do you need some help? I can help you fill out the form.”
“Huh? No, it’s okay. I just need to take a new photo after I finish filling this form, and print out my IC.”
“No, ma’am. You can just give me 6 dollars and you can go and take the photo. I will fill the form for you and you can look for your IC copy on the other computer.”
Thinking that she was offering to help me fill out my form to speed along the process, I agreed, handed her 6 bucks (for the photo), and switched over to the other computer to find the scanned copy I had of my IC while she started filling out my online application form. I had just finished what I was doing when,
“Ma’am, the page is stuck on this computer. Can you please open the form on your computer and fill in the details?”
“Oh yeah, sure no problem. I’ll fill out the details thanks.”
And so I filled out the details on my application form and submitted the form again and headed to the photo-taking counter.
Obviously, there was a long line of people, and when it was finally my turn – the camera ran out of battery. Fabulous. I had to wait again while the camera charged for long enough to be able to take pictures again before getting my picture taken, and getting my forms printed out. (The photo-taking lady was also really great at her job – there was a delay as she tried to give a very white, very blond lady a picture of a very Indian, very dark-haired lady, insisting that that was her picture, while everyone around exchanged how-is-she-not-seeing-this glances with each other.)
Finally armed with everything I needed, I headed back to the counter to submit my documents.
“Thank you, ma’am. So that will be $55.80 for the visa and processing fee, and $6 for the photos.”
“But I’ve already paid that other lady for the photos.”
“No ma’am, that was the form-filling fee.”
“But she made me fill out the form on my own because the computer had a problem!”
“No ma’am, that is the form-filling fee.”
I was seriously ready to yell at her (just on principle), but decided it would be better just to pay and get the hell out of there.
Ugh. And I still need to go back on Friday to collect my visa. Here’s hoping they don’t make me jump through another 12 hoops just to collect my visa.