As the “he” member of this blog team, one of the great opportunities I have with my job is a chance to see parts of the world I might otherwise never be able to go. Of course, the trips always include many hours of sitting in a hotel or office doing work. But I also try to see something of the place where the meeting is being held, and sometimes my wife is able to accompany me.
My latest opportunity is India.
I’ve never visited India before, but always thought it looked fascinating. As India requires a visa for entry by an American, the first step for this trip was to obtain a visa.
I quickly found the visa process to be a bit confusing and not altogether clear. Because I will have more than one meeting, I needed a multiple-entry business visa. My wife could use a tourist visa, which is relatively easy and straight-forward.
As I started the process, I received conflicting information. Some told me that because I haven’t lived in Tokyo for 2 years, I would need to apply for the visa in the United States. Others said no, with a letter from my employer, I could apply in Tokyo. So not really knowing what was true, I proceed to gather the materials. Fill out the online visa application. Obtain Letter of Invitation from the company in India that I’m visiting. Get letter from my employer saying that my expenses are guaranteed. Print out application, attach photo. Copies of passport, residence card.
I finally took all the items to the Indian visa office in Tokyo. The very friendly staff there promptly reviewed my material, and confirmed that I could submit the application…after I corrected some errors on the application.
The next week, my wife and I made our way to the Indian embassy in Tokyo. Again, the staff was friendly and helpful. In less than an hour, we had submitted our applications, paid our fees, and were told that the visas would be ready in one week. Sure enough, a week later, we had our visas in hand.
Without a doubt, the visa process complicates travel. And, it adds to the cost. But if you want the experience of visiting some places in the world, it is just part of the process – and part of the international experience.