“ Assists you in following the correct procedures to apply for a visa application for India. „
Submitted 2 applications for myself and wife ! Booked a dream holiday to Kerala ! Waited 4 weeks, no reply ! 2 weeks before the holiday went upto the embassy to see what the delay was ? Was told " wait for a while here and it will be processed ! 4 hours later I am being asked where my dad was from ? Mmm I said he is not travelling with us I replied . Was then told that because my father had travelled to Pakistan I would need to fill out an initial form that would take 40 days to process ! My dad was 74 years of age at the time , disabled and is in a wheel chair ( which I told them ) yet they were concerned about him even though he wasn't travelling ! I also asked why my application hadn't been processed or my wife ? We are both British citizens born and bred here ! My wife is white ( British ) yet they said they hadn't processed her application because of her ties with me ! I am mixed race (white - Pakistani ) ! They could see in my passport the previous places of travel ( Greece,Cyprus,Sri Lanka,Maldives,Spain,Morocco ,Turkey,Madeira ,USA) showed them my tickets for this dream holiday ( going in 2 weeks ). They was not bothered in the slightest ! Said sorry "40 days to process your fathers details !
Even the security guard on the door at the embassy found this embarrassing and told me to insist and speak to the manager here ! Which I did and ended up there till closeing time ! Yep , you've guessed it " sorry " your ties are that your dad is from Pakistan ! Now my dad has been in England for 55 years and is a British citizen !
Very very poorly run service ! I have since spoken to my local pm about this in Worcester !
My daughter applied for a holiday visa. They issued a visa that expired even before she entered the country. Their reason was she applied too early. There is no information like that on the website. VFS blame the Indian High Commission. The real reason the incompetent staff that processed her visa overlooked the "Expected Dated of Travel"as requested in the application form. The cost was £92.50. The answer to the problem from rude staff is " we can't do anything. you have to reapply and pay again". Disgraceful.......
Tried to get my India visa the first time, the staffs were rude and my visa was rejected without a reason and application fee was not refunded!! I had to cancel my holiday and go somewhere else. Will not go near them again!
The Indian Government/High commission should be ashamed.After my exeprience of trying to get a HOLIDAY visa with It was enough to spoil my holiday even before I reached India. I wish I had booked to travel somewhere else now. Put me off the entire idea of India.If any Indians are offended, look to your rubbish visa service.Also, Indians were in there with me making knowing comments about "India, best service in the world" because they knew it was crap.Never seen anything like it.
The VFS UK visa office is a terribly run organisation! They seem to think it's OK to close (6th Oct) without highlighting it clearly on their homepage. They won't even allow you to enter the building if you're missing any information or your photo sizes are incorrect.
As of Nov 2011 all visa applications will be ONLINE ONLY and NO LONGER will be excepted by POST.
Photo's to the size of 50x50 will ONLY be accepted- so NOT the standard sizes!
To add to this a lot more quetsion are being asked as to your ...
if your grandparetns are pakistani nationals?!!!
your profession etc
To be honest I was tempted to write 'none of your friggin business!' This information will then be held by the indian government and obviously is for the benefit of the UK and USA security.
You do have a right to all the information you have given and to amend this information under the data protection act 1998 by contacting VF SERVICES (UK) LIMITED at 60-62 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE.
Where do I start? The fact that the application form is misleading and prompted me to send 4 or 5 emails asking for clarification, such is there poor organisation.The fact that having paid over £40 pounds online, only for them to say they have never received my payment?The fact that it took them 3 days to get hold of their accounts department to investigate this payment?the fact that by the time I recevied a phone call to say that my payment was found, and my passport could be processed, I had actually received a passport in my envelope? Or, the fact that this passport in question wasn't mine?!By the time it was all sorted, I'm pretty sure it would have been easier to apply for Indian nationality!Poor, inadequate, amateur, incompetent, and inept. Horrendous.
Photos taken and forms filled in online and printed off, all boxes ticked that needed to be done!
6 weeks to our depature date, so off the Visa aplication goes! Three week turnaround at the outside we were told, so loads of time, you would think.
2weeks later the return prepaid envelope lands on the floor, with a form highlighted where we had gone wrong, we had given the wrong photos, so mad panic and new photo's are got! as this leaves only 20 working days till we go!!
Brain wave, we think????
To speed the process up, We thought I would travel to Manchester office of VFS and hand it in person, so £40 on train tickets from Newcastle and off I go, feeling confident with all tasks on the pink highlighted form showing our first error completed.
After a fair walk and having found the place along with queuing for nearly 2hrs, I'm infront of a really rude young woman, she turned out to be, her first command was "sit"!!!! Said really sharply!
Showed her the forms and passports, she barks, your wife's has failed???? she has a different name, she is my partner,if her attention to detail is that good the she should have spotted different names on the form, I asked why (mistake it seemed to madden her) she, abruptly barks!!! picture is incorrect and the signature is not the same as the passport?? the only difference between my picture and my partner was I had an extra inch of snoulder showing if that!! I pointed out that the Hayes office had already passed her signature on the same form,as they had sent a form stating just new pictures would be all it took to process the visas, WOW! did She take offence at this statement and turned to the power she had and stated she makes the decisions and that was her final dicision so just go home get her to resign and new picture, come back tomorrow and i'll process the aplication then!
Stating it was a round trip of 500 miles, she laughed and said not my problem.
They certainly dont care about customer care.
One other woman in there had visited Goa some 10 times with her familly in 5 years but this woman behing the desk told her to, go home as she wanted to see her sons birth certificate even though he had his own passport stamped 10 time too!! YOU CANT WIN WITH THIS WOMAN at Manchester
We have since been granted visas by another company and it took 7 working days, yeah it was £17 more than VFS but so what.
VFS take liberties with you and dont care about customer care, avoid this company at all costs, we even contemplated canceling our holiday away from India, thinking if this was the way your treated we dont want to go!
But happilly we have the Visas and are looking forward to it.
I never, ever contribute to forums but since this one has been so helpful I thought I should share. My partner and I fly on 15/2/11 and started the visa process with 5 weeks before we needed the passports; was very nervous after reading many of the horror stories. Not counting the first week which was wasted with VFS sending the applications back because I had sent the wrong size photos, the process took 9 days from posting to receiving! I am over the moon, as was thinking may have to move flights etc. Some tips:
- Do not send normal passport photos! The'll only accept 2 inch square ones, which will cost you about £16 from a photo shop (e.g Kodak, Trueprint etc) Ring and ask if they'll do it first.
- The tracking feature on the VFS website is hit & miss; do not be unduly worried if your application doesn't appear.
- You pay for the courier twice but if you're a couple they send it back in one envelope. You'll have your own view on this but I didn't care, I just wanted the passports back on time.
Best of luck, I'm sure India will be worth it!
The snow, the post and the bank holidays did not help us in our plight to obtain visas. Yes we booked last minute but surely it shouldn't be that difficult. My son recently needed to get a student visa to visit America and he booked an appointment, arrived at the American Embassy and yes there were a few glitches but he walked away with the visa in his passport on the same day. Not so with an Indian tourist visa.
We posted the passports by SDE as we were assured by the website that they are processed and returned in minimum of 10 working days with a few days added on for transit. The snow then hit and the delivery of said passports were delayed in getting to the application centre. One week on and numerous emails and phone calls later to the very expensive £1 per minute advice line and I knew nothing more than "the passports are being processed". I then decided to drive to the application centre and try to retrieve my passports and then resubmit them in person to be processed. I did ask the customer service agent on the expensive helpline if this could be done. They informed me that I had to fill in a form on line (I could not find this) or at the visa centre and I would get my passport back in 24-48 hours. So off I set.
I eventually found the visa centre and I have to say from the moment I walked in I had the help that I needed. The man who greeted you and handed out the tickets for the various queues was very helpful and sympathetic. I arrived at 14:27 and was seen before 15:00. The very helpful staff member told me that they would find my passports and process them that day and I would not be charged again. By 15:55 the staff at the centre had found my passports and advised me that the passport photos were not to specification and that they were about to sent them back to us. At this point they did tell me that the passports they had recieved over a week ago, mine included, were only JUST being opened to be processed. Very slow service!!! To rectify this and to get the passports processed on the same day, I went to a nearby photo shop, got the photos sorted and was back at the centre by 16:25...application was processed...the staff member assured me that they would be ready for collection by Friday jsut 2 days after attending the centre.
If you want an Indian toursit visa.....GO IN PERSON TO THE APPLICATION CENTRE!!!! They are very helpful. But the helpline and postal service CANNOT be relied upon. THE HELPLINE DOES NOT HAVE ANY MORE INFORMATION TO GIVE YOU THAN THE ONLINE TRACKING SYSTEM...DO NOT WASTE YOUR £1'S ON THIS LINE AND DO NOT POST YOUR PASSPORT TO THEM GO IN PERSON. 10 DAYS IS THE MINIMUM AND NOT REALISTIC TIME SCALE FOR POSTAL APPLICATIONS.
I hope this helps someone in getting an Indian tourist visa. Good luck x
The visa system very annoying as your visa date begins when the visa is issued and not from when you want it to, as such if you want to stay as near to the 180 days as possible you have to gamble that you will get it in time or gamble that you can find a last minute flight that is not exhorbitant. Also be warned, if you live outside London and decide to post your passport it takes them ages - 8 days in my case to even open the parcel so I ended up having to cancel my flight and rebooking at last minute anyway, this cost me £600 extra. Once I went into the office the assistant Paul was helpful but the system itself is poor as he had to search through 1000'of letters to find my parcel in time.
Very Poor service i received from vfs,we submit our daughter's application,when we went to collect the passport they asked for consent form and shows us blank passport no one contacted us they waiting for us to turn up there,customer service is also very poor staff are treating very bad ,
They asked to send consent letter by mail email@example.com,I tried twice but it bounced back to me,I faxed twice and ask them to confirm that they received but no answer,I called there premium rate help line 0905 757 0045,but they told me they can't say they received fax,mail or not there system updated after 24-48 hours,So what the point to open premium number helpline which coast more than £1 per minute,just to make money,I provide my tel. no. why no one contact us we use to get very good service from Indian High Commission,I don't know why Indian High Commission givng them to work for them,
My partner and myself have just used VFS to obtain our visas for our trip to India. We were a little worried having read previous reviews both online and in the media about VFS. All the reviews that we read were not good to say the least. However we decided to give it a try as some companies charge huge fees to carry out to task for.We completed the forms on line ,this was very straightforward and the instructions clear. We took the necessary documents to Manchester on Tuesday and our visas arrived on Saturday.Thanks to the staff at Manchester who were both helpful and polite, and thanks to the staff at VFS for an excellent, efficient and speedy service.RegardsCath
The VFS Global customer service is close to useless. They cannot provide any etas or give any updates on visa's. They tell you that there is a minimum time to get your visa and provide NO maximum. They refuse to contact the embassy to at least provide some feedback such as it is likely to arrive this week or not. It makes planning trips a nightmare. I've spoken to different individuals on the premium rate number as well as in the office and no-one has been helpful. Poor customer service appears to be ingrained in their culture. My advice is book a holiday elsewhere as it's too painful to have to deal with VFS.
I dont know how they got 4 stars for god sake. I know a person who is suffering from this service. They are the best example for the worse customer service group... My poor friend is trying to reach them since 2 week but guess what they dont even answer the phone esp..Between 9 am - 1pm it is always busy, from 1pm-2pm it is close and after 2pm-5pm it is always busy again. the officer promised to investigate the matter Mr. SIngh... But where is the promise keepers!!!!
NOTE - this advice applies for UK nationals applying for tourist visas. For non-nationals or other types of visas (business, student etc) there may be some differences. However, I hope that most people will find this of some use.
My husband is a very calm man. With the exception of IKEA flat pack furniture and the annihilation of 'old labour', there's not a lot that makes him lose his cool, so I was taken aback when I raised the topic of getting visas for our forthcoming holiday to India and he practically exploded. Don't mention the words 'Indian' and 'Visa' around him or you'd better make sure you have a comfy seat and a cup of tea because the tirade that follows may take some time.
===So why's he so worked up about the topic?===
Approximately 2 years ago we decided we'd had enough with paying for visa agencies to get our Indian visas and so we went to the Birmingham Consulate General and did it ourselves. We had a very pleasant day out, saved a bit of money, and I smugly wrote a 'how to' review about getting Indian visas which received thousands of hits on both the well-known review sites.
Then last year when we needed visas again we discovered that all the smooth-running systems of the past had gone to pot and total chaos had enveloped anyone trying to get a visa. In short, the Indian High Commission in London and the Consulates in Birmingham and Edinburgh had taken a decision to no longer accept postal visa applications, leaving thousands of travellers with no option other than to pay exorbitant fees to visa agencies (who couldn't offer services better than 6-8 weeks for turnaround) or to go in person and stand in line.
Hubby's first attempt about 3 weeks before we were due to go, led to hours of standing in line, complete confusion, running all over Birmingham on a wild goose chase and eventual total failure. We explored other options - such as the weekend 'visa surgeries' but eventually decided there was no alternative that could give us any guarantees. Hubby thus got up one morning at 3 am, packed a flask of tea, a sleeping bag, a hot water bottle and a deckchair and went to sit outside the Consulate General, joining the line at 4 am on one of the coldest October nights of recent years. Fortunately, he got the visas but came home scarred by the experience and vowing not to put himself through such a nightmare again. Mind you, he had it relatively easy compared to many people who were trying to get visas form the London High Commission - they were having to sleep on the streets just to get an appointment to come back again, several days later.
So when I read that the 'system' (I use the term very loosely) had changed again, hubby exploded and I had to scrape him off the ceiling.
===So what's changed and why?===
Even a blind man could see that the old system just wasn't delivering the goods. The Consulates and High Commission were crashing under the abuse they got from aggravated visa applicants. The 'normal' day to day business that the offices were supposed to attend to, all went to the wall under the pressure of the troubles. Someone must have given a short, discrete cough and pointed out that this needed fixing and needed fixing soon before the tourist industry took an even worse hit.
People in their thousands were pulling out of trips to India and heading for destinations like Thailand where they didn't need visas. And no doubt there was also at the back of some minds, the thought that the Commonwealth Games of 2010 are looming and they'd better be slick by then or half the events would be called off because the contestants were camped on the pavement waiting for visas.
Consequently the Indian government decided to pull out of handling visa applications directly and outsource the service to a company called VFS Global. This is a company that specialises in handling visa applications for various governments around the world. When they were first announced as the new 'only way to get a visa' for India, there was an outcry that people would have to pay a fee to VFS and further chaos was sure to ensue. I'd like to reassure readers that this isn't the case.
===Step by step to getting your visa!===
Step 1. Go to http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/
This is the website of the company that issues the visas. If you 'google' the term 'Indian visas' you will find lots of agencies offering to get your visas for you but it's best to ignore these. Many are playing on last year's chaos to scare unwary travellers into parting with their cash for an unnecessary service. Whatever company you might enlist to help get your visas, you will still need to go to the VFS site to get the paperwork. Read around the site because there's lots of information but it isn't always where you expect it to be. If at all possible DON'T use their premium rate enquiry number - it's ultra-expensive and it's unlikely that you can't find the information somewhere else for free.
Step 2 - my suggestion is to go to the trip advisor website - www.tripadvisor.co.uk - and track down their forum on India. This is the place I now go to for all my travel advice. Wherever you want to go, there will be site members who've been, have suffered the same confusion as you, and can offer advice. Type 'Visas' into the search bar and you'll find lots of good advice and lots of people moaning. But forewarned is forearmed! Don't read too many of the early postings because all you'll learn is that when VFS first took over, they confused everyone and the site worked really badly. Be reassured that a lot of the wrinkles have now been ironed out.
Step 3 - get all your information together.
Once you start the online application, you can't save what you are doing. You need to get through the whole thing in one go. So have your passport with you. Get your tickets out and make sure you know the dates of your travel. If you have already booked a hotel or a tour, make sure you know where your first night will be or if you are staying with friends or relatives, have their address to hand. If you haven't booked yet - get the name and address of any hotel in the city you land in and write that down instead. Ironically the website will tell you not to finalise any arrangements until you have your visas - so if you did what they said, you'd not book anything until you had the visa and wouldn't get the visa because you couldn't answer half the questions. Classic Chicken-and-Egg.
If more than one member of your family is travelling together, you can apply for up to five additional family members at the same time. Hubby and I did both our applications together.
Business visa applicants will need to make sure their local contacts have given them the addresses of two local sponsors of referees. These are unlikely to ever be checked but you need to write something. For a tourist visa, you can avoid this part and write 'not applicable' or 'none' in lots of the boxes. It's worth remembering that there's one form for lots of different visa types so it's fair to assume that they don't need all the details for a simple tourist visa. So relax.....they won't subject you to the same scrutiny as someone applying for a job in India or wanting to live there.
Make sure you know where your mother, father and spouse were all born - again, I can't imagine anyone checks it, but these are questions you have to answer. This applies for every applicant so if you are doing the papers for someone else, have them there or at the end of the phone in case you need them.
And have your credit card ready if you want to make an online payment.
Step 4 - check the site to know where your application has to go to.
VFS have several different offices and if you send your application to the wrong office, it won't be processed. The information is in the section of the website called 'Jurisdiction'. All applicants in Scotland have to use the Edinburgh office. Two dozen or so English counties - mostly in a line north of Birmingham - have to use the Birmingham office and everyone else (so Wales and southern England) has to use the London office. To make it slightly more confusing, there are two London offices - one at Victoria and one somewhere in the East End. Make a note of which you need to use as it will be a question you have to answer on the form.
Step 5 - take a very deep breath and start the online application.
Take the phone off the hook and make sure you've not got any plans for the next hour or two. You would be mad as hell if you got halfway through and then had to stop for Eastenders or to take the dog for a walk. We got through our application in about an hour, covering two people and having to redo some sections when we got them wrong at the first attempt.
As you go through the application, each time you submit a page, it will tell you if you made any mistakes. You can then put these right and move on to the next page. Stay calm, swear at the screen if you want to but remember it can't hear you. Take it steady and - like any marathon task - one step at a time and you'll get there in the end. We had to repeat a couple of pages, call my mum for her new phone number, phone a friend for her post code and so on.
A few tips - you can skip these if you are not actually about to apply and are just reading this to be polite!
1. If you don't know the answer, try 'none' or 'NA' (not applicable). If that's not acceptable, when you submit each page, it will tell you and ask you to change it. NA or None are likely to work for questions like name and address of sponsors.
2. Avoid commas and symbols - write 'and' not '&'. When writing addresses, don't put commas between lines. If you have any symbols in your name, don't use them.
3. Referees in the UK - we used my mum and a friend - it doesn't matter who you put in here. You don't have to know a bank manager and a doctor, just people who actually exist.
4. Phone numbers should be entered as 0044 or for India 0091 - for example 00441234567890
5. Issuing passport authority - for most people this will be UKPA (United Kingdom Passport Authority) but it's useful to know which office did your application - in my case, this is Peterborough which is indicated by a P on my passport.
6. Type of visa - most people will want a 6 month tourist visa. This costs £30 plus fees. If you intend to go more than once in a 12 month period, you can ask for a 12 month tourist visa but that's not an enormous saving at £50. Now that I know how simple the system is, I'd probably not bother to go for the longer visa unless I absolutely knew I needed it. 'S' means a single entry visa, and 'M' is multiple. We applied for 6 month Multi-entry visa because we are going over the border to Bhutan and back and need to be able to get back into India.
Step 6 - repeat the entire process for any other people for whom you are applying
Step 7 - print copies of your applications
I believe you can come back and do this later but if you have a printer, do it now and then nothing can go wrong.
Step 8 - Write down your reference number
Each application (or set of applications) gets a unique reference number. WRITE IT DOWN and put it somewhere safe. We put the number on the envelope we sent the passports in and on the return envelope as well. If your application is delayed, you'll need this number to track its progress.
Step 9 - Online payment
This isn't obligatory but it is easy and avoids the need to find other payment methods. If you are making a postal application, paying online means you don't need to pay for postal orders, and you won't be allowed to make payment by cheque. If you are going to the office in person, then you could take cash. We chose online payment and applications for two people for 6 month visas cost £78.90 in total.
Step 10 - get all your papers together
You will need a printed copy of your application, two identical passport photos for each applicant, postal orders (if you didn't pay online), your passport and ideally a pre-paid special delivery envelope (SDE) from the post office which can be used to return the passports to you. VFS will only put up to two passports in each SDE so if you are applying for more visas, send more SDEs.
Step 11 - send your application
We posted everything off by special delivery. If you are lucky enough to live near a VFS office and to have spare time to drop off and collect your passports, you can go in person.
Addendum - 2010
Last year we applied with VFS again and everything was OK up to the point that the passports were sent back because they wanted a letter from my husband's employers to say his visit was entirely unconnected with his work. He works for the Prison Service. I'm not sure if they thought he might get a bit lonely and decide to go and do a bit of locking up whilst he was on holiday but sure enough, a letter was needed. This also applies if you work for the police and I think the Forces are also covered. If in doubt, get a letter. Apparently this has something to do with police and prison staff doing extraditions and not applying for the proper visas. You have been warned!
===Does it work?===
We did the online application forms and made online payment. Then we sat on everything for a week because I needed my passport. Then we sent everything off on a Monday and the passports were back on Friday of the same week. You can no longer get the 'same day' service that used to be available when the consulates issued visas but we were impressed at the speed of the postal service. And for most people requesting tourist visas, the current service beats the old postal service by several weeks. For years we had to allow 6-8 weeks when working through visa agencies so I'm happy to give a big thumbs up to the new service. I just hope they let it bed in and don't change it again too soon.
Some people have complained that it's now almost impossible to apply if you don't have a computer. But if you don't, I'm going to guess that you are unlikely to be reading this review which is probably a good thing, because I don't know how you'd get around the online application problem. My main suggestion, is go and find a friend with a computer, internet connection and a printer and do it that way.