As many of my readers know, I love writing about my continued failure in getting an OCI Card from the government of India. My good Friend AM (same initials as me but with much better success), just got his OCI card after 4 months. I’ve been involved in his process (starting with the application and the Middletown Post Office mailing…) from beginning to end.
My OCI Saga – By guest blogger Mr AM (full name not listed, because we value our guest blogger’s privacy and threats they direct at us)
Finally after a long and grueling wait for 4 months, I was able to go to Indian Consulate in New York city and get the OCI stamped in my American passport. Never imagined that it would take so long, but I have to constantly remind myself that I was dealing with Indian Govt office and nothing there is logical, it is all at the whims and fancies of the officials sitting in India in some office with nothing better to do than annoy everyone that needs their support.
So I decided to apply for OCI in June of 2010, and sent in the application with all necessary forms and sent it via Priority mail with delivery confirmation and return receipt. It was more than 2 wks since I sent it and never got the return receipt. Went to the post office and asked them, all they were able to confirm was it was delivered the very next day but some folks choose to send the return receipts in bulk and I may get it late. But I never got it.
Even IRS which receives millions and millions of tax returns follows the process and sends the return receipts properly but Indian consulate which may be receiving a fraction of what IRS is getting but never bothers to send the return receipt. Oh I forgot I am dealing with a Indian govt office or probably someone must educate them that they don’t need to pay any postage as it already paid by the sender. Probably that is what is stopping them from sending it back.
After a month, one day I got a big package from the OCI CELL, yes, they call it CELL, like a prison … and my application was returned because I didn’t include the Indian passport surrender certificate. So I had to apply for that, but luckily the instructions said, I can include the surrender certificate application along with my OCI application, no need to send it separately. Oh what a help that was.. thank you very much Indian Consulate for being so considerate and humane and letting us send both the applications together!.
Then started the wait period, it was like the documents I sent via mail went into some black hole, never got any response back. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the Indian consulate to send a confirmation that the documents have reached them and under processing? Oh wait, I am dealing with Indian consulate, nothing is done logically there.
So I did some search in Google, found the online status enquiry site and filled in my application number, for one month or so, I got “Application not received” message. What does that mean? Where did the application go? Does that mean it is in Newyork CGI office or where, it just simply drives you nuts.
Slowly every 20 days or so, the status was updated stating my application was received, documents are being scanned, documents are printed, documents are being put in cover to be mailed, the mail man has started walking towards the mailbox, the mail main has put the key to the mailroom and finally the document is dispatched and received in New York CGI. Well the first two and the last status are the valid ones, I just put the rest for the kick of it. The statuses were so stupid that I just couldn’t resist putting the rest. Probably after reading this article the Consulate office might think of implementing those statuses.
The big day arrived, I was all set to go to Newyork city and hand over my passport to get the OCI visa stamped. I was told that I have to drop the passport between 9:30 and 11:30 and collect it back between 4:30 – 5pm. What a waste of time and energy, the consulate has all the necessary documents and all it requires is a little bit of coordination and say they process only 25 OCI stampings, give fixed appointments for folks waiting to get their passport stamped, and they can just give it right on the spot without all these waiting drama.. Oh wait, I am dealing with a Indian govt office, nothing is done there logically.
Luckily, my pal (owner of this blog), who grew up in NYC agreed to join me and that was the best thing to happen. If not, I would not have known where to go or how to kill the time. So we both go to the consulate and there was a long queue waiting outside. We thought ok, we are going to stand here for the whole day!! Luckily that queue is for other consular activities and we were let in immediately to drop the passport.
I got to tell you about the entrance to office. I have seen it only in meat processing plants or in industrial plants where they put these PVC strip curtains instead of doors because of big equipments moving in and out and it saves energy. That type of industrial strength strip curtains where placed in the entrance. It gave me a feeling of a goat or cow entering a meat processing plant to get its head chopped off. It is so heavy and I don’t know why they put it there. Cant they have a door and make it easy for people (particularly it will be v.tough on old people), oh wait cant think logically here, because, yep you got that right, you are dealing with a Indian govt office!!!
Stood in a small queue of about 10 folks, handed over the passport and got an encrypted response “come back at 4:30” no other details, no receipt for the submitted passport, nothing. Before even you leave the person in the counter calls the next one in the queue. So anyone can come in the evening before you and just give your name and collect the passport and go. What a system!!!!!
The best part of this trip happened after submitting the passport. Yes, my friend and I went around Newyork city, first went to downtown, saw the construction of the new World Trade Center, walked to Battery park, took the free ferry ride to Staten Island and back to city, had lunch in Chipotle, went to Union Square and spent some time there and then Times Square was our final destination before going back to the butcher shop.. sorry to pick up the passport. Thanks to my friend AM for taking me to places in Newyork city that I have never been to (It is all good places ok.. so don’t let your dreams go wild!!!). Oh I forgot to mention that we went to Apple store and man it was like being in heaven!
Finally we reached the consulate around 4:20, but they wouldn’t let us in because it is not 4:30 yet. So waited outside and I went in to collect my passport. One thing I noticed really concerned me is in the common sitting area, a huge pile of US and Indian passports were left unattended all over the place, yes those are the ones that come in by mail and they are preparing it for mailing. But that is NOT the place to keep them. Anyone can access that pile of US and Indian passports. So if you are planning to mail your passport in, think twice.
So finally after a long wait of more than 4 months, spending a day to just get the visa stamped (lucky I had my friend come with me.. If not and if you are new to Newyork, you will be just sitting idle killing time) I got the most coveted visa in the world – OCI (Overseas Citizen of India).