Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I was at the FRRO again on Tuesday. We started the visa renewal process in January, providing all the paperwork required for the visa renewal that had to be done by the company. All they had to do was print it out on stationery or stamp paper, sign it, stamp it and give it to me. That took until the third week of April.
- Cover letter requesting visa renewal from company
- Visa renewal form
- Statement of Undertaking
- 1% Foreign Employee Certification
- Form 16s (Like W2s in the US) - all years in residence
- Tax Returns - all years in residence
- Rent Agreement
- Proof of Residence (Telephone bill)
- Employee contract
- Pay Slips - all years in residence
- Passport copies with all visas - all years in residence
- Passport photos
My visa expired in May. You are supposed to file for a renewal 60 days prior to expiration. Got reprimanded because HR couldn't get their stuff done. Blamed it on them, and the FRRO officer seemed satisfied. I was given a two month extension. AFter that we went back every week or two to check on the process. When we got to two weeks prior to the new extension, they were telling us to come back, without providing any written proof that we were in process for the full year nor any kind of documentation proving to my company that we were still legal. We kept returning, trudging up four flights of stairs (the elevator has not worked in the four years I've been here), just to wait around for an hour or two and told to come back next week or ten days. Our visas expired and they did not seem to find that unusual. I needed to travel out of the country, but there was no way to leave the country without a valid visa. My company was slamming me, as if it was me stalling the process.
I took a colleague to the Home Ministry who had a sister who used to work there. She gave us the name of an officer still working there. We restarted the process again with this particular officer and within 3 hours we were out of there with another 2 months, which allowed me to leave the country.
On Monday this week, my son went to the FRRO and discovered the visas were finally back from Chandigarh. They refused to give them to him because I had to be present. On Tuesday, I arrived and was told to come back tomorrow because I didn't have my son with me. I started to cry, telling him how this was causing so much trouble for me at work and that didn't seem to phase them, then I launched into a tirade about how my son was in school and a minor and how as his parent I should be able to pick it up myself. This seemed to work, and they processed his visa along with mine. Thank f*cking god… The entire process took from January to September. Nine months of work to get a one-year visa. Unbelievable.
|Indian Visa Extension|
As I was leaving, heading down the stairs, a young asian woman was walking up, and shrieked, "Oh! I know you! You write a blog, right?" Then she looked a little hesitant, probably because of my perturbed look on my face. She said that she read my blog and recognized me from the photos there… it was the first time anyone recognized me in person, but it was really gratifying. She said she read it all the time, which made me feel great about the effort I'd made in posting my experiences. :-)
After completing my Indian visa, I had to head over to the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, which is located right behind the US Embassy in Delhi. Yu Yu, being a Burmese national and the daughter of the ex-counsel of Myanmar in Kolkata, had connections. Americans have great difficulty entering Myanmar, unless under a recognized tour group. I was looking for a multiple entry business visa. A rare gift to an American. She helped me coordinate my application. I was told to bring a copy of my passport, letters of invitation from the show organizers, and a couple of photos. That's it. I was told during my conversation at the Embassy that I couldn't get a multiple entry this time, but my next visit would not be an issue (I'm scheduled to visit Myanmar in October and again in November).
|Myanmar Business Visa|
We returned at 4:30 for a completed visa. Took less than 5 hours. Now that's efficiency. :-) Two visas in one day.
I'm lucky to be American. There are few countries that actively bar Americans, most don't require visas. Indians have a lot more difficulty acquiring visas for business and I am sure most of it is racial profiling. Brazil is one place where we are required visas, myself included, but we were not received the same way. I was traveling with two Indian colleagues and we all had lots of extra bags since we were hand carrying all the products to be displayed at the show, probably 50 kgs a piece. I was warmly greeted, welcomed into the country and told to enjoy my stay. The same immigrations officer said absolutely nothing to my colleagues. We picked up all our baggage and headed out towards the exit. Two heavily armed guards approached the three of us, pointed at both men, and told them to come in for questioning. Me, standing in the middle, was told I was free to leave. We had exactly the same mountain of bags, but I'm a white American. I waited an hour and a half for them to finally be released.
A CEO I work with was refused an American business visa because he's only 26 and couldn't possibly be the head of a 200-person development company. The mountain of paperwork he had to produce is worse than what I need for my visa renewals here, including bank statements going back years. I find this an invasion of privacy.
Most people don't travel internationally, but having experienced this over time and region, it is getting harder and harder to secure visas in a timely manner from any country (except Myanmar - thank you!). Visa reform needs to be looked at across the globe. In this time, where information can be found at your fingertips, why can't most of these processes be automated and online? Travisa in New York City does a good job in the US processing Indian visas (it only takes a day there, but 9 months here). You go online, set up an appointment, all required paperwork is listed in detail, head there, submit your papers, and by 5:30, 6:00 PM, you are notified online whether or not it has been approved. Simple.
I'm looking forward to Myanmar. Next week, I'm heading to Dubai. When I travel, I usually tweet (@jeanneleez) and foursquare my experiences. Feel free to join me via the "interwebs". See ya. :-)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Today we talked about the boom of ecommerce in India and what the challenges still are. If you want to know about the reasons, check out this business insider article. Then, as usual we drifted about sales and how it's still handled in India. The practice is changing though.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
We had a special guest today on the show, Will, Jeanne's son.
Here's the New York Times report on the road that he was talking about in Afghanistan. And here's an article about the oil tax subsidies on Huff Post that I talked about.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
As we were walking out the door this morning, we heard the news of Osama's death. Today on Below the Fold, we talk about the reprecussions, and cautions you should be taking if you're an expat living in this region. What were your reactions and what do you think would happen next? Leave us a comment with questions etc. If you'd like to hear more from us on this topic. Have a safe week.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Today we talk about the shocking news (well, not that shocking, I had my suspicions) about Three Cups of Tea, the book we recommended to you guys in this episode. On an interesting note, you should read this article on the Forbes blog. That talks about the lessons we should learn from this.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Today we talk about social media branding and how newbies tend to use social media differently than the pros. What to look out for and what not to do when you're setting up your social media marketing campaign.Enjoy!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Hey everyone! We've updated a couple of things over the weekend, now you can listen to the show while you're on the Facebook fan page. Yes, we have a fan page!
Today we rant about the corruption in India and the way people conduct business. You can read more about it on the Economic Times site here: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-03-28/news/29354507_1_telecom-sector-2g-anil-ambani
Saturday, April 2, 2011
around the world. And about life in Myanmar. Also we recommend you to
read the book Three Cups of Tea by/about Greg Mortenson the man who's
building schools in Pakistan. You can visit http://threecupsoftea.com
for more information.
Today we talked about the visits of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and what The Economic Times said about their "philanthropy" You can read the whole article here: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-company/corporate-trends/did-india-inc-thumb-its-nose-at-bill-gates-warren-buffett/articleshow/7803244.cms We also rambled off a bit on how Yu Yu's the only Burmese woman working in the Indian corporate sector and living in India. Plus a little opinion on our beloved FRRO. What fun!
Morning folks! (For those of you in the west anyway.) In this episode we talk about Elizabeth Taylor, social media usage in India -- specifically for business, and the auto industry. Along with some rants and raves for side topics, of course.Hope you enjoy the show. And if you have any questions, comments, topics you want us to talk about, let us know!
We're talking about Third Culture Kids today. I'm involved with http://TCKid.com - Home for the TCKs and ATCKs (Adult Third Culture Kids).
You should also check out: FIGT: Families in Global Transition which is a non-profit organization that gives support for expat families.
Morning everyone! Hope you enjoy the show today, sound quality's better than normal. Here are some links to what we talked about:Chanakya is actually the guy's name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanakya And Chanakyapuri is the neighborhood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChanakyapuriI thought it was the same name. I stand corrected!And tomorrow we'll be talking about TCKs and http://www.TCKid.com
Thank you for all your support and feedback for those who listened to Episode 1.
We've had some production challenges with the other episodes, so we're skipping ahead.
This show was produced this morning. Happy Monday!
Below the Fold is a talk show that Jeanne and I have been wanting to do for a while. We talk about a lot of things, marketing, expat life, challenges of living and working in India, management, and raising puppies. Not necessarily in any order. This was the pilot episode. Hope you enjoy it. Write in the comments below to suggest us topics or give us questions!