I work with Afghan Wireless as chief commercial officer and I went to Barcelona (Spain), last year to attend the GSM conference in February. I got my visa in a day, directly from the embassy.
This year, visa submission has been outsourced to a company called IVS, which is based in New Delhi.
I called IVS from Kabul in January. A lady called Sakshi told me it would take around four working days to get the visa. I called up again. A lady called Manju confirmed it. I also have a mail from IVS that it takes four-five days to get a visa. So, I booked my tickets for 4 February to travel from Kabul to New Delhi. I also booked for the awards ceremony and paid for the fees (non refundable), booked my hotel and paid in advance (again non-refundable). I bought travel insurance and my air tickets based on the verbal assurance of the IVS staff.
This trip was important as my company—Afghan Wireless—was nominated for an award by the GSMA, and I was supposed to be there for the awards ceremony.
I came to India from Kabul on 4 February (a Sunday) and, on 5 February, I submitted all my papers along with my passport, paid the necessary fees and told them that I had to fly on the 12th . I emphasized that I needed my passport by 9 February.
I called up IVS on the 6th to enquire about the status and they told me to get in touch with the embassy. I called up the embassy; they asked me to get in touch with IVS.Finally, someone suggested that I fax or email the embassy.
I sent faxes to the embassy and IVS and emailed them, but did not get a satisfactory reply from either. I called the embassy several times and requested to speak to the visa officer, but they dodged my request, saying he was busy.
Finally, I went to the embassy personally once again on the 8th and submitted my application for expediting the visa. (I asked them for a receipt, but they refused). I was told that I would be called and I waited from morning till evening, but no one called me. I called up the embassy number several times, but they told me I have to wait as there was nothing they could do.
I even asked my US office to fax in a letter which I faxed to both the embassy and IVS. This was done on the 9th (US time) and I was hopeful that they would grant me the visa. But I did not hear from either the embassy or IVS.
Meanwhile, I made many calls to the embassy and IVS to enquire about the status of my application, but did not hear from them. The usual response was, “Please call the embassy,” and in the embassy, the usual response was, “Please call IVS.”
I have been abroad in many countries and I have seen how Indian consulates go out of their way to help. Why can’t the same treatment be there for us? It is akin to begging.
I have to go back to Dubai as soon as possible, since I am not going to Barcelona, for an important budget meeting, but I can’t go as I don’t have my passport. These guys at the embassy have it and I don’t know when I will get it back.