My Experience with the Embassy of India in Manila
Are you a Filipino going to India?
Be warned. You may be in for a great deal of frustration.
I've been spending the past week arranging my visa for my Action Consultancy (AC) in India. (The AC is equivalent to AIM's industry internship for its MBA students; I'll blog more about this in future posts). The frustration has really been mounting because of the very confusing and Byzantine system of the Indian embassy here in the Philippines.
First point of frustration: the customer service. I initially called the embassy to clarify the requirements and procedures. The embassy has an automated answering system that has a selection where a caller can get an itemized list of requirements. That's all. No information of procedures, steps or guidelines. I selected the option to talk to a staff member and when I asked my query, she told me I'll find everything I need at the Indian Embassy website. If you look at the site, there are some information, but not the ones I'm looking for.
The second point of frustration is the "appointment system" instituted by the private subdivision where the office is located and the consulate. Here's my experience: I entered the area where there are several guard checkpoints and they inquired what's my business. I told them that I'm going to the Indian embassy to apply for a visa. They barred me from entering because I do not have an official appointment with the embassy. I told the security personnel to give me a minute to call the embassy to set up an appointment.
Immediately, I called the embassy on my mobile phone and was able to talk to a Visa Office staff. I asked to be scheduled for an appointment and to my surprise, she said the embassy DOES NOT schedule appointments. To my agitation, I asked the staff how could I apply if I couldn't even get in their office. The embassy officer told me that I had to PAY for a courier service to submit my requirements and visa payments. The courier fees add an additional 30% to the fees a person pays for the visa.
A few days later, I learned that after calling the embassy and visiting the site, I still had missed a requirement. I failed to add PhP200.00 for the courier fee for their end. I immediately remitted the amount but that translated to a total of two days delay in processing. There was nowhere in the website that there was a PhP200 fee, not even on the application form. So much for finding everything on the Indian embassy website.
I've already paid extra and suffered some delays because of the lack of updated information from ANY source. My classmates who are processing their visas or have had their visas processed before have gone through the same frustrating experience with the Indian embassy here in Manila. I'm sure the Indian embassy policies are grounded on control, but if they are going to subject visa applicants to a run-around, there has to be a balance between security and convenience.