Help! Can't get passport back from Embassy!

#1 Jul 17th, 2008, 17:42
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  • kingy99 is offline
#1
Three months ago now I sent my passport, visa application and cheque to The Indian High Commission in London and was told that I could not be issued my visa until a month before I left. Fine. My flight leaves on August 6th so I was told that I could expect my passport to be returned a month before. It is now July 17th and I have not yet received my passport back and I am starting to freak out a bit. I cannot get through to them on their number - 0207 836 8484 and have had no response from an email i sent (to mailsection@hicomind.demon.co. uk). I live 300 miles from London and feel it is not yet worth travelling such a long distance? Is this common? Do they take a long time to process visa applications? Does anybody have any other contact numbers of email adresses I could use? Anyone have similar experiences? All advice welcome!
#2 Jul 17th, 2008, 17:56
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#2
isn't there a thread on here about visa outsourcing in the UK? If you search for it, there might be some helpful info in there. Sorry I can't be more help - I live in Ireland.

Good luck!

Haze
#3 Jul 17th, 2008, 18:06
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#3
As the IHC already have your passport, I am not sure where you stand, but I thought I should tell you that all visa applications have now been outsourced to a company called VFS, though IHC do still issue the visas.

Because of this change, they are likely to have less staff, as all the queries now go through VFS.

Unfortunately VFS are notoriously difficult to contact, I have been waiting for a reply to a visa enquiry for over a month, in which time I have applied for and recieved my visa!

On the VFS website there is a "complaints reporting" feature, apparently using that has provoked a response for one IMer. I would suggest you write a letter asking them to contact you as a matter of urgency, if you pay a few quid and send it special delivery today they'll definitely have it by 1pm tomorrow.

This thread gives some details about the outsourcing, best of luck getting it sorted out.
#4 Jul 18th, 2008, 06:23
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#4
If you're really worried about this, you can contact the British Foreign Office. I believe that it's illegal for any entity to keep your passport against your wishes. A passport does not belong to the person to whom the passport has been issued. The passport is the property of the government who issues it.
Bueller? Bueller?
#5 Jul 18th, 2008, 11:04
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#5
At this stage, I'd be really worried.

You need to consider how long it would take you to get a new passport, if, in the worst case, they have lost it.
#6 Jul 18th, 2008, 11:18
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#6
Ask a friend in London to stir them up ... supply a letter to the effect that they are authorised to act on your behalf ... make noise until they give you something to shut you up ...

oh, check the number and ring constantly.

Call and write to your MPs office and see if they can intervene.
#7 Jul 18th, 2008, 16:11
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#7
I applied for mine 3mths ago & got it back within 2-3wks.
Did they give a reason why they couldn't issue it until a month before you left? KK
#8 Jul 18th, 2008, 16:33
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingy99 View Post My flight leaves on August 6th so I was told that I could expect my passport to be returned a month before. It is now July 17th and I have not yet received my passport back and I am starting to freak out a bit.

I live 300 miles from London and feel it is not yet worth travelling such a long distance.
I would suggest that maybe it is now time to think about travelling such a long distance.
#9 Jul 18th, 2008, 16:46
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#9
I was told that the visa has a validity on it, unrelated to the length of visa type (3 months) and the validity would have run out halfway through my stay so I had to wait until a month before I left so the visa would last the for the entire trip. It seemed a little silly - why not just extend the validity? - but I assumed it was regular procedure.

KK - Where you not told this as well? When do you travel or have you already been? That would possibly explain why your visa was issued to you and not to me

Starting to get really quite panicky now but have managed to get hold of somebody in the Indian embassy who is supposed to be ringing back at 12, hopefully he can help
#10 Jul 18th, 2008, 17:52
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#10
A tourist visa to India is normally valid from date of issue yes (not from date of entry), so I can see that argument. Beyond that, it just goes by standard periods, it won't just be accommodated to your needs. So you get 6 months or whatever, blah, and again and in most cases: from date of issue.

What I don't see is all the other crap you guys (and apparently people in many countries now) are being put through. Nor should it be their business how you plan to use that visa.

No advise, except what's already been given. And I think that point about no one being allowed to confiscate your passport (and certainly not some silly outsourced bureau) is most apt yes, if you can be bothered at all I'd look into filing a complaint about this, and it may hopefully at least help others in the future.

(* Thinking a little more: That 3-month visa is uncommon to me though, let's assume it's some British deal. I can't say this & don't know anything about it, but you have over half a month yet, and they may really be just accommodating you and so holding on to the visa till later. I take it you told them about your intended length of stay? They may be really doing the right and sensible thing. At the embassy when I traveled there, as far as I know no one gave a hoot if you wanted to buy a visa that you wouldn't be able to use at all.

I understand your worries though. From what I've read here (I don't live in UK) ever since that outsourcing business kicked in both that office and the embassy have become practically unreachable, it would have me up against the roof too.

But so maybe it will still come right in the end. It just sounds like pure crap customer service, but that's another thing. Nor would I wait it for it to turn right by itself no.)

And btw about the legalities of holding on to your passport: I think you're technically not even allowed to give it to anyone else at all. This obviously doesn't hold up in practice, and you'll sometimes post it to an embassy for purposes like these, for instance, and they'll then keep it for due processing.

On the other hand again, to hold on to it forever sounds obviously slightly idiotic and would have me nervous too (you'd expect them to just tell you to apply later & then promptly return it, if only to save themselves some hassle). I'd certainly be worrying in your case you got lost somewhere between the embassy and that new visa service, which has taken off just recently.
#11 Jul 18th, 2008, 18:19
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#11
Macha is right. International law as I know it (and having just finished a course in it) says that the passport belongs to a government, and not an individual. It's illegal for ANYONE to keep your passport against your will. They can throw you out of their country, but they can't keep your passport.

Should you wish to get a new passport, you'll have to tell the UK government what happened to the last one, resulting in a possible diplomatic incident, which might be a valid outcome considering the situation. Demand your passport back, or get your MP involved, which should rectify the situation.
#12 Jul 18th, 2008, 19:11
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by katcalls View Post Demand your passport back, or get your MP involved, which should rectify the situation.
That probably is not the best way to get a visa, without which there is not much point in getting the passport back quickly!
#13 Jul 18th, 2008, 19:34
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#13
Haha. Yes, appreciate KC's take, but maybe getting your visa sorted has the greater priority than causing an interesting international incident right now

(note: What the hell do I know anyway, it strikes me as an awkward situation & if it were me I'd sure like to see it resolved.)
#14 Jul 18th, 2008, 19:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingy99 View Post I was told that the visa has a validity on it, unrelated to the length of visa type (3 months) and the validity would have run out halfway through my stay so I had to wait until a month before I left so the visa would last the for the entire trip.

KK - Where you not told this as well? When do you travel or have you already been? That would possibly explain why your visa was issued to you and not to me
I fly on 10th Aug. Mines for 6mths I didn't know they issued them for 3mths. How long are/were? you staying in India for? KK
#15 Jul 18th, 2008, 20:41
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#15
Sorry, I meant to say its a 6 month visa but i'll only be in India for 3 months. I'm flying into Delhi, then spending a month going around Utter Pradesh - Bodhgaya, Varanasi, Sarneth etc then going down to Kerala and staying in Auroville for a bit. What bout you?

K99.

Regarding passport - It's all been resolved. Having found the special del receipt from back in march, it turns out I did not send it the indian high commission - I actually sent the passport to The Indian Visa Head Office - an independent company who i've just got hold of and they are starting the visa application process next week. Cue long brow mop and phew on my part - thanks for everyone's concerns tho, cheers x

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