Indian efficiency. Is it something to poke fun at like the inefficiency of the American judicial system? Or something to write home to mama about? If we are connected on either LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook you will have read a status update or two by me boasting about the absolute efficiency of the Indian government with respect to my long-term residency and employment visa. The entire process took seven days, which I think is even more extraordinary based on the fact that I am an American who was residing in Spain. Seven days is pretty damn good if you ask me.
On top of that, my recruitment process from first interview to offer letter and contract, including a trip to India, took less than one month. In fact, within two hours of shaking hands and agreeing on the finer points of negotiation, I had everything in my hand that was needed to present back in Spain in order to file for my residency and work permit. Sooo efficient! In Spain the recruitment process takes ages for a job at “C” or director level. In fact, it can literally takes months from first phone contact to contract signing.
But folks….this lovely Indian efficiency that I was so in awe of until now does not exist inside the walls of the Bangalore office of the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registry Office), where I must go to have my visa validated. In fact, I think that it might be a portal to the land that time forgot. OH, and I almost got into a fight there with a big nasty guy which was quite fun and actually helped me to pass the time (and made me laugh).
Friday, 9:30am DESK 1 and 2
I ventured into the FRRO and went straight to the information counter where I needed to present my passport and explain my reason for visiting. DESK 1 guy sent me 4 feet to my right to Desk 2 guy where I needed to pick up an application. I was 4th in line and it probably took 10 minutes to get to the front and have them pass me two applications that I had already filled out online and printed and had in duplicate. But they said they want me to fill out their forms instead and the forms from the website are not valid. Nice. I park my butt on a bench and complete the forms. When I finished I had to go back to DESK 1 where they gave me 1/4 of an A4 sheet with a blue stamp on it, then hand written it also had my name, my passport number and the word TOKEN with a number next to it — #44. They directed me upstairs.
9:45am – 12pm, WAITING
The digital display shows #9 and it dawned on me, my TOKEN number is #44. Crap, haha. And then I realized the worse part….I didn’t bring a book or my laptop because I believed so fully that India was the most efficient place on the planet when it came to visas, etc. Tick tock, tick tock. At 10:50 the TOKEN thingy displayed #29. Double crap, haha. In all fairness I should mention that the computers had gone down that morning for 1.5 hours so part of my drama is not NORMAL inefficiency but special circumstances. And out of the blue my old best friend Charlie from Redlands, California called me and helped me pass the time until my number was called (thanks so much, Charlie!!!).
12:15 – 13:30, DESK 3, 4, 5
#44, woo hoo! I go to DESK 3 and the guy there looks through all my papers and informs me that I am missing two documents that I should have been given by HR but since I am my company’s first foreign employee EVER, I am essentially the (happy) guinea pig when it comes to relocation and visas, work permits, and FRRO visits. The guy wants to see how much my monthly take home salary is, make sure I have the paper signed by my boss saying that if I misbehave they will endue the costs of repatriating me to the U.S., etc etc. He staples all my papers in order, in duplicate and he is done. This takes about 10 minutes. He then points to his colleague at the desk that is 3 feet away and tells me to stand at the back of that queue next.
This queue takes forever. I am behind about 8 or 9 other people but luckily the guy behind me is a really handsome black guy from somewhere in Africa who is also quite chatty. Time passed nicely, indeed! 😉 When I arrived at DESK 4 the guy simply double checked what the last guy did, in less than 1 minute. Period. He sent me to Desk 5.
No queue at DESK 5 so I walk right up. The really rude, no smile, almost scary woman behind the counter tells me to sit down (note: she didn’t ask me, she really told me!!) and pushes my papers over to the guy sitting next to her who starts to review everything. He then stopped and said “you didn’t get the papers signed” haha OMG, no one told me to have them signed. So I ask, “from where?” and he points to the director’s office and off I go.
Good luck, I only had to wait behind two people so it went quick. When I sat down at the director’s desk he reviewed everything, wrote down the two missing documents on the same sheet of paper as the TOKEN number, signed it, and sent me back to DESK 5. haha OMG, it was like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. Couldn’t one person with one computer be doing all of this themselves instead of this wild ride I was on? haha
Back again. This time they started making a folder for me, I had to smile into a webcam for what would become my “Angela looks like a terrorist” mug shot photo
, and when I thought we were done they told me to go and return when I had the two documents.
I already had someone rushing from the office with the documents so I went downstairs to wait. They closed at 13:30 and my documents arrived at 13:40. I run upstairs just in case and the mean girl was still there, although eating her lunch. I asked if she could please accept the documents because I had been there over four hours already and she said no, it was lunch time, with her mouth open and chewing and all full of food just in case I had any doubts. hahaa
Needless to say I went back on Monday and the mean girl was there. This time she told me to sit down and then kept looking at her colleagues new wedding album while I sat there for a good minute until I stood up and asked her to start attending to me. She was not impressed but she stopped and put the album down. After that it took less than 2 minutes to walk out with my snazzy new work permit and residency papers.
Sooooo….. the drama is over and I am good for one year now. Now let’s talk about ME!! It has been two weeks and I am STILL waiting for my bank account to be opened. I can’t receive my salary or have any money transferred from Spain because it has no where to go and I am down to my last bit of cash, haha. Why does it take so long to open a bank account here??? In Spain, the movers are finally picking up all of our personal belongings, the entire kitchen sans appliances, the clothes dryer, etc on Wednesday. And – fingers crossed – the cats will fly out from Barcelona on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Nothing else really new to comment on for now, so as always… XOXO from Bangalore!!
In case you need to register for an employment visa here anytime soon, here is what you need:
- Two photos
- Passport with visa, with 2 copies
- Financial letters (2) on letterhead from your employer, with duplicate copies (these can be downloaded from FRRO website)
- Work contract with duplicate copy
- Detailed breakup of salary per year/month with tax contributions
- Proof of residency (hotel letter worked for me, or rental contract, etc.)
- Letter of Incorporation from your employer, in duplicate
- Photocopy of the passport of whoever signed the financial affidavits from your company
Hope this helps! And I truly hope your experience is much quicker than mine 🙂
© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011