Sunday, May 4, 2014

The downside of having an Indian passport


As we are gearing up to embark on our travels at the end of this month, it's crunch-time for husband-ji to get all his documentation in order.

Anybody that travels a lot will know that having an Indian passport is a huge headache. You need a visa for absolutely EVERYWHERE. And it takes TIME to get a visa appointment. It takes TIME for the visa to be processed. The fees are EXPENSIVE (at least $100 per visa). And after all that, your application may be REJECTED....regardless of whether or not you've purchased your flight tickets.

It is extremely bothersome for an Indian passport holder to travel, especially through Europe. The last time husband-ji wanted to apply for a U.K. visa, the earliest interview was 3 months away - so we had to cancel our ticket and re-route it (expensive!) Recently husband-ji has received his Schengen visa from the Italian consulate, and the wait to get an appointment was also 2 months. And they only gave him the validity of the visa for the exact days that he was going - basically keeping him on a tight leash!

Meanwhile, neither I nor Maya (Canadian passport holders) have EVER had to have a visa to visit anywhere, except for India. I can go to any country in Europe as I please, the USA....no problem, no questions.

Living in Canada for 5 years, husband-ji has been eligible for Canadian citizenship for a while. We have just been too lazy and busy with day-to-day life to fill out the big form, but anytime we have to travel we wish he had a Canadian passport. Canadian citizenship currently has a 23 month wait, but we sort of need to just buckle up and submit the form. I think the only reason that husband-ji wants a Canadian passport is because it is less of a hassle to travel...and honestly that's a shame. It's a travesty that husband-ji has to essentially give up his Indian identity in order to travel without bother.

Why do Canadian passport holders get a free pass to any country - and not Indians? It's quite unfair, really. I mean, we were both British colonies....shouldn't India be afforded the same?

I wonder how husband-ji will feel on the day he gets Canadian citizenship & having to take a test about the history of Canada. I know it was a big moment for me when I received my PIO. I wonder if he will miss the Ashoka lions...


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25 comments

  1. Yeah, my wife bitches about the Indian passport holder's hassles all the time. I guess some people just have it lucky!

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    1. Ugh, it really is such a pain. If I had an Indian passport I would avoid traveling. It is totally unfair..

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  2. Yes its true for an Indian passport holders getting visa for western countries especially is a massive pain. However if one of the spouse is from Europe or UK visa processing gets easier for an Indian passport holder. For example, if your husbandji was married to a UK citizen getting a visa for Europe is dead easy.
    Haha, disadvantage of marrying a Canadian citizen especially travelling in Europe. I am only kidding! Haha

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    1. Hahahaha! That is good to know it is faster if one is married to a European...at least there is some advantage!

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    2. @ anonymous - Really? On a european guy hunt now :)

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  3. Well, it is not just Indian passports, but most Asian & African countries that are still considered 'Poor' , which means lots of people trying to emigrate to 'Rich' nations for a better life.

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    1. It is unfair to say the least...especially with China and India having the fastest growing economies. Expats are flocking there nowadays!

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  4. Maybe you should ask our counsel general the next time you meet him! :-)

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  5. It's all in the colour, the west's fear of the brown and darker east, but seriously it's a problem, a nuisance rather. Things should be sorted out but guess Indian Bureaucracy and Diplomats have their own speed or lack of it to solve the issues proactively

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    1. It is so unfair, and now because of that Khobragade scandal it will be harder. I agree, I think it is in the color too...since USA is often freaked out about Mexicans etc.

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  6. So true, I have applied for my Canadian citizenship as well. and CIC says 23 months but it takes much longer. I have been waiting 28 months and still have not received my test date. So if you guys really want this you should get started soon.

    I am sure I will feel very emotional too giving up my Indian passport, but then its just a piece of paper in some ways. I was, am and will always be an Indian at heart.

    take care

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    1. Oh, crap! 28 months?!?! We better get to filling out that form. Thanks for letting me know!

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    2. And I hope you know that there is a test he will need to take. here is a copy of the book he can use to study:
      http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/discover/index.asp

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    3. @anonymous - thanks so much, that is so helpful :) Can't wait to see him study like a schoolboy so I can tease him :D

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  7. When we were younger my hubby and I did meet some Indian students who had skipped their visas to work here in Australia. The Australian government spent a lot of money to locate them, and send them back home. I guess that’s why the visa process is so stringent because there are many Indians looking to cheat the system, which unfortunately ruins it for those who don’t.

    It took my hubby seven years to decide he was ready for an Australian passport, but only because he would be able to get the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) as well. He was happy as the OCI gives him almost the same rights as being an Indian citizen, except he can’t vote, which didn’t bother him. He has had to travel many times for work to places like China, USA and Costa Rica and it would have been impossible for him on an Indian Passport plus it would have been a career setback for him not to be able to travel with short notice.

    Alexandra, your blog is really growing on me and I am really enjoying it, every week I look forward to your interesting posts. Thanks to you!

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    1. @anonymous - thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you enjoy the posts...
      Yes, I know, the ones who cheat the system just make it look bad for all of us. Being an international student in the USA, there were so many people who abused the system and just came in on a student visa and settled there, thus making it harder for us. Sigh!
      The dilemma you mentioned is familiar to us as well, its a huge thing to give up a passport.
      Hmmmm thanks for the info on the OCI, I will check it out!

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  8. I completely understand your situation as it is the same story with me and hubby. I have Australian passport while he has Nepalese and like Indian passport holder, Nepalese passport holder need visa for everywhere. When we were planning our Europe trip I was so stressed until he got his visa because to apply the visa, he had to book flight and hotels and pay for them so for some reason if he didn’t get the visa, we will lose the money. Anyway I am sure , you hubby will be fine but as you said he need to be ready in advance so there is no last minute rush.

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    1. Nepalis don't need passport to get into India.
      Following a bilateral treaty of peace and friendship signed in 1950, Nepalis don't need a visa to travel to and stay in India and vice-versa.
      A Nepali passport holder can open bank accounts in India, hold jobs without employment permits and buy property.

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    2. (edited) Nepalis don't need visa to get into India.
      Following a bilateral treaty of peace and friendship signed in 1950, Nepalis don't need a visa to travel to and stay in India and vice-versa.
      A Nepali passport holder can open bank accounts in India, hold jobs without employment permits and buy property.

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    3. @nepaliaustralian - Ugh, it is such a pain. And Europe is so hard because they are so strict....and there are SO many wonderful places to visit there. Every time we go, we always want to stay longer but the visa restrictions on hubby do not let us even stay for one extra day. I feel ya, girl!

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  9. Argh.. I have to retype my long comment.

    Indian passport - I have ranted enough on my blog & so, shall not rant again.

    Personally, I would not have issues giving it up because it is so inconvenient. To me it is an official document and troublesome.

    Life is unfair but what to do. What makes a person born in a country with good pasport much more deserving of certain opportunities than a person from a country with not so great passport.

    My only consolation is that there are people with worse passports and resources- Iran, Palestine, women in Saudi. I am grateful that I have the resources, skills, money to move abroad while many cannot.

    I don't think I would feel bad on giving up my passport rather I would be relived coz that means less visa issues and sometimes applying for visa was an humiliating experience for me & made me cry.

    And just coz I gave up passport does not mean that I ceased being an Indian - I still love my spices, food and chai!

    That said, for voting, I do not know why the hell they cannot have voting for Indians abroad in embassies or something.Why should everyone fly all the way to their respective constituency just for that?

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    1. @boilingwok - yes, my hubby feels the same. I am more emotional about, looking for the deeper meaning, and he is more like "Who cares! It's a nuisance! Let's do what ever is more convenient!" LOL.
      One time when we were at a US border crossing, this Pakistani family was being interrogated. They said the women could go into the USA but the men could not, the officer would have to PHONE Pakistan and they had to wait for 4 hours to do that. At that moment I was grateful hubby had an Indian passport. Although we do get hassled, it is not as bad as that!
      I agree they should do voting for Indians abroad.

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  10. Don't forget that in some cases, the reverse is true. Americans need a visa to travel to India.

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  11. It is not unfair. This is just life. Protection for rich countries. If they keep borders opened there will be lot of problem. For example suddenly half of India will leave theit country for Canada or other rich country like that. It would create unbelieveble problems - social, cultural, financial, etc. World is unfair and there is no equality. It's reality.

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