Oh it chills me to even write this. I have had two ghastly experiences and now obtaining visas overseas gives me nightmares. It can be a make or break travel plan situation and I want to discuss why and how to prepare for the emotional rollercoaster that will leave you either fist pumping the air (like I once did getting my Indian visa) or have you sulking depressed and vulnerable (just like I was in NYC after the UK consulate denied me a visa).
What you don’t want to happen
Don’t be like myself and push the limits, this can cause you to stress out as I did trying to obtain my Indian visa in Cairo
. I had my parents visiting me in Dahab, Egypt
(where I lived for 5 months) and planned to travel to Dubai, Nepal and then into India after they left. Needing a visa for India I immediately jumped on the next bus to Cairo. I Arrived in Cairo 5 days in advance of my flight out from there (Cairo) to Dubai, noting it only takes 2-3 days for the visa process (supposably, but hey this is Egypt).
I jumped straight off the bus and over to the Indian Consulate, where I waited for opening hours and was seen to first that morning. “Ok Mr. Jaryd sir, you pay me now 48 EGP now and pick up your visa next week” the server said. “Umm is it possible to get it before then? I have to fly out on Thursday,” I replied as he stared at me thoroughly, answering “you fly Thursday? Then you come back and pick up on Wednesday morning Mr. Jaryd sir, and it will be ready then?” I asked without certainty “so it will certainly be ready then”, “yes Wednesday you come and get” he answered politely again. “Ok thank you so much, I see you Wednesday.” I replied in simple English. Bright and early Wednesday morning I arrived to the office to discover a note on the door informing me the consulate was shut for a holiday. Okay, cool I thought, this is just great; I hope it’s not a holiday tomorrow as well. Arriving the following morning I was relieved to find the consulate in operation again. Okay now get your passport and bolt, I told myself.
“Hey I am here to pick up my visa,” I told the clerk as I was called to the desk. “No it’s not ready yet, you pay 250 EGP and pick up on Sunday,” she replied. OH FUCK!! I shouted in outrage to myself and replied politely with, “I can’t I fly out in a few hours is there any possible chance of getting it now? I was told to pick it up yesterday and that it would be ready.” As though the clerk wasn’t listening she answered “Ok you pay now and we will see”. “Ha, no I don’t want to pay you and then have to wait until Sunday. The guy I dealt with on Monday said it would be ready, can I get it today please?” I asked again. “Ok you wait one hour until he gets here”. Great just what I don’t have, time. So an hour went by and in my despair he had showed up earlier than expected, I spoke to the lady. “Can I get it today?” “Yes,” her answer was. “How long will it take?” I questioned again. “Maximum 1 hour” YESSS! Perfect just enough time to pack, as I realised, oh shit check out is at 12pm.
I waited an hour, and I questioned the clerk once more impatiently, “still not ready sir it won’t work?” I thought what won’t work your printer or the stamp won’t stick to the page, fuck sake “can I do it” I thought to myself feeling extremely pressed for time. Another half hour went by. “Mr Jaryd Sir,” I jumped to my feet and said to myself again, YES it’s ready. The officer handed it to me and I went to shake his hand but caught up in the emotion I thought no I want to show my appreciation, so I moved my hand from about to make to contact to half hugging the immigration officer. He was stunned but I didn’t care, I had my visa and was overly excited, I ran down the stairs and into the street, looked at it briefly and then jumped as high as I could off the pavement whilst double fisting the air. With that out of my system I sprinted back with time to check out, put some clean clothes on and get my cab to the airport. Phew I made it, just.
Another horrific incident just like this, but more unfortunate, happened to myself in NYC crushing my then travel plans and sending me home. Find out how I nearly got detained in the UK
because of it.How you can prevent this
Learn from my foolish mistakes of coarse by planning it all out in advance and acquire all the relevant paperwork submitting it as early as you can, this will help you with future plans. Now when you apply for some visa’s you need to have a flight already booked out of the country before you submit your paperwork, sometimes even a flight arriving to the country. Now for reasons unknown to me (so stupid!) it’s a requirement and this is where it can be frustrating, so leave adequate time for you to get the required visa.
In-case it goes wrong
Have a backup plan, yes as bad as this may seem and it is quite pessimistic you should know what you are going to do in-case it doesn’t go your way. For example I had to have a flight out of India booked to obtain my Indian visa. What was I to do if I didn’t get it? I couldn’t afford to just let a flight lapse and not use it. My back up plan was to spend my time in Nepal until a day before my flight and catch a plane to New Delhi
to catch the flight out of India and onto my next destination. I know it would be tremendously unfortunate to not spend time in India but hey I had two flights booked and I didn’t want to throw that money down the drain.
Have you ever had troubles obtaining Visa’s overseas? What do you do when you need to apply for a visa whilst traveling?