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Portuguese visa for Indians

Portuguese visa woes..

So I was in New Delhi for a while during the launch of MyStreetMarket and I probably should’ve applied for the Portuguese visa right then but didn’t have the time.

Once I was back at Coimbatore I decided that I would hand my application over to the travel agent and they would apply for me. (my passport and documents would basically be couriered to Delhi)

Here are the documents I needed:
- Visa Application Form
- 2xPassport Size Photos
- Bank Statement of Last 6 months
- Flight tickets to and from Portugal
- Hotel reservations for my entire stay in Europe (in Portugal, France and Spain)
- Detailed travel itinerary
- A copy of my UK Visa
- A copy of my previous schengen visa
- My flight tickets to the UK

If this doesn’t already sound like a bureaucratic nightmare, once I arrived at the travel agent in Coimbatore, I was asked:
- Where’s your covering letter ?
- Where’s your air ticket back from London/Europe ?
- Where’re your details for travel within Europe ? (flight/bus bookings ?)

So I explained my trip details to the rather unfriendly lady here and she finally accepted my application (mind you, this is the travel agent, not the embassy!).

A few days later I flew to Delhi for the IIT festival which MyStreetMarket was supposed to be present in. On Friday I get an email saying:

“The EMBASSY has requested the following documents:
- Completed online application form
- Cover letter on a company letterhead stating purpose of visit
- Detailed tickets for places to be visited within Europe”

So I called up Maestro travels in New Delhi (this is an associate travel agent that my passport and documents had been sent to..). Spoke to a Mr. Kehar Rajput who was especially rude. I explained to him the terms of my visit and he replied with “I’m not sending your documents to the embassy until they are complete”. So I asked “So it was YOU requesting all those extra documents, not the embassy ?” to which he replied “I know what the embassy wants. Do YOU go to the embassy every day or me ?”. So I politely explained to him that I have applied for a ton of visas before and am quite familiar with the procedures involved. I couldn’t believe his next sentence: “If you think you can submit your application like this, then go ahead and do it!”.

Well, I didn’t really have much of a choice, I visited Maestro Travels rather shady office in Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi. Mr Rajput wasn’t in but there was a lady who repeated the same stuff. “You need to show proof of where you’re going, how you’re going, why you’re going”. Hmm.. I bet even ex-cons don’t need to show so much proof of this and that. So I explained to her that I would be travelling within Europe by car. “Where’s the proof of that ?”. Exhasperated, I decided to take my documents and head to the VFS VISA office myself.

But the story has just begun. I took all my documents and went to Nehru Place. The VFS office is in the International Trade Tower. And a tower it sure is! I went up to the 8th floor (which is officially the 2nd floor cause there are all these S1,S2,S3,L1,L2,L3… levels in the middle). The guard on duty there said “Oh it’s lunch time from 12-1PM, come back after 1PM”. I took the elevator down and realized that it moves at 1Meter/minute. By the time I reached the ground floor it was time to go back up.

So I took the stairs again, all the way up to the 8th floor and people were queuing up there. No shit! People in India behave really well in VISA offices – they actually queue up properly and don’t cut in front like at other places! After all, that would be a horrible reason for VISA rejection – “Doesn’t know how to queue properly..”.

The guard at the entrance says “Oh! What’s in your bag ?” “Well, I have a laptop, camera…” He begins shaking his head. “You can’t go in with that.” “Okay, so can you keep it somewhere ?”. “No, go down to the ground floor, there’s the UK VISA office there, they’ll keep it for you”. So off I go, back again down 8 floors by the stairs to the ground floor. I had to fill in a registration of sorts to deposit my bag before I ran up all 8 floors again to finally enter the VISA office.

So once I’m in there I realise that I’m not carrying enough cash so I ask the guys if they accept cards. Nope! Please bring cash. I assumed that the VISA cost Rs. 607 so I ran down 8 floors to the Citibank ATM in the next building and got Rs. 2000 – just in case. Ran back up 8 floors and my turn still hadn’t come.

Finally my token number (208) came up and I went to the guy at the counter. He looked through all my documents and said that they look good. Except for one small detail, I had filled up the wrong application form. Apparently the Portuguese embassy no longer accepts hand written forms so you need to fill up an online form which then can be printed out. Not surprisingly this tiny but SUPER IMPORTANT detail isn’t mentioned anywhere on the website. The guy at the counter was nice enough to say that I could come back until 2:30PM (it was ~2PM by then..) and he would still accept my application.

Again, I ran down 8 flights of stairs, picked up my bag at the UK embassy and tried to find a plug point (in vain..) to plug my laptop into so that I could use some internet! Since the guard who was next to the metal detector wouldn’t let me use the two extra slots on his bracket, I had to run to Nehru Place, a nearby market. I ran into a Cafe Coffee Day hoping that I would be able to plug my laptop in there but they had no flat pin plug points. (Bah!) So I paid for the bottle of water I had ordered and said I would come back later for the change and ran out. I ran into Costa Coffee and the waitress was right next to the door so I said “Do you have any flat pin plug points here ?” And she gave me this “I don’t think we serve that here..” look :P So I ran around the cafe like a maniac bending over and looking at all the plug points there. Unsatisfied with my search, I bailed on Costa Coffee. This time I ran around with a mad look on my face asking people “Where’s the nearest Cyber Cafe ?”.

I ended up at a Cyber Cafe just a few minutes down the road where I had to give an ID to use the computer. I filled in the so called “Online Application Form” which basically just fills in typed values into the PDF that is the regular form. There’s no reference number and no actual submission takes place. You just have to print it out and carry it with you. Way to modernize stuff Portugal!

So I took my printout, buckled up my bag and RAN! I stopped at the UK Visa Center (obviously to deposit my bag) and ran up 8 floors once more (I was getting pretty good at this by now :P). I was sweating profusely by this time and the guard didn’t want to let me in because it was already 2:35PM. However, when he asked the guy at the counter inside, I was let in once again.

Finally he accepted all my documents and then said “So will you pay cash or demand draft ?” “Cash is fine, no problem” “That’ll be Rs. 4813″. “WHAT ?!” “Rs. 4813″ “Umm.. I’m going to have to run down and get the cash, I thought it was around Rs. 607″ “No, that’s just the VFS fees, but no problem, go get the cash”.

You guessed it, I ran down 8 floors again, to the next building’s Citibank ATM and withdrew the rest of the money. Ran all the way back up and paid up, finally it was done.

I took the elevator down and 2 hours later, was back at the ground floor :P

But it’s not over yet. The Portuguese embassy says that they take 10 working days to process your visa. (I guess it DOES TAKE a lot of time to read ALL those documents that they asked for :P). I thought I had 9 working days before my departure to London but apparently Diwali and something called All Saints Day are 2 holidays that fall in the middle.

So fingers crossed. Lets see how it unfolds :D

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18 Comments

  • samarjit Says

    hard work pays .. you shall get your visa in time… :p

  • Zara Says

    Yep! Portuguese bureaucracy! Unfortunately, us Portuguese citizens, know very well what that means… :S

  • Niru Says

    I couldn’t not laugh at this: “Hmm.. I bet even ex-cons don’t need to show so much proof of this and that.”
    Glad you persevered though and good luck with the visa. I had a somewhat similar experience today with 3 consulates in SF – Peru, Colombia and Chile (all located within 3 blocks of each other), but the elevator was faster and I didnt quite get your cardio workout.

  • Yash Says

    Phew! No wonder you look so fit!!

    Did you get Portuguese visa without Employer letter and/or did they insist on any other documents?

    • Ashray Says

      They did ask for an employer letter but then I explained to them that I lived in Dubai and just moved back to India, etc. etc. and eventually they asked for my company registration (which I didn’t have on me..) and so I just sent them my business card and some other stuff. They basically wanted everything from my grade 1 report card to college certificate :P Just sayin’ haha!

      • Yash Says

        Applying a Schengen or UK visa is really a pain and without Employer letter would be a torture! UK visa application had all the absurd requirements like my father’s date and place of birth and had to fill 10 page application form by hand!! (Had to fill my wife’s and parents’ forms as well :P )

        I guess it was a bit easier for you to get Schengen visa since you were with Zara.

  • Arun Says

    Thanks man…I had a veryyyy similar experience recently…and now my fingers are crossed too!

  • Brian Says

    Getting ready to apply for a Schengen visa at the Portuguese consulate in Goa and was wondering if they required a “confirmed” ticket to and from the Schengen area or just a reservation. Bit apprehensive about actually buying a ticket beforehand especially if there is a chance that my visa application might be denied.

    Thanks,

    b.

    • Ashray Says

      Hey there!

      Well, the one in Delhi sure wanted a booked return ticket. I think your best bet is to ask them if they need booked return tickets. A lot of embassies will make such demands without regard for expenses that you may incur. My strategy to deal with this is to book 100% refundable flights (some flights are refundable without fees) and then cancel the flights once I get the visa. You shouldn’t be afraid though of them denying your visa – why should they deny it ?

      I wrote an article earlier about refundable flights so if you want to see what might work best for you, it’s here: http://bkpk.me/refundable-flights-around-the-world/

      I think for you KLM/British Airways might be a good option. I know that the flights are expensive but you do get all your money back. (make sure they don’t have a fee, sometimes they charge GBP 15 or so..).

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

  • Jitu Says

    Hi Ashray,
    I wanted to know when you got your Portuguese VISA in DELHI. within 9 days before your departure or it was delayed.
    :)
    Jitu

    • Ashray Says

      Hi Jitu

      I got my visa on the day that I was set to leave. It was really close and I had to rearrange my flights to actually make it to London. It was really stressful. My advice is to apply as early as possible and you should be fine.

      • Jitu Says

        Hi Ashray,
        I am going Portugal, for higher study. I have submitted my application on 6th and had interview, my air tkt is booked for 3rd september. now only 2 days are left coz saturday it is close. I am really worrying if they delay then i will be in problem.
        i contacted in embassy also but not positive response and they asked me to talk VFS and VFS said they cannot do anything.

        do you have idea is there any Portuguese VISA helpline service or something like……
        really worrying now…. :(

  • Jitu Says
  • Jitu Says

    Hi Ashray,

    Finally I have got my visa for 120 days today. Since morning i was trying to talk embassy people and VFS but no one was receiving phone and even receive not ready to talk, finally one person talked but he said “plz call VFS” and he cut the phone. Then, at 4pm i decided not to call anymore to Embassy, and writting travel agency to cancel my flight ticket and suddenly a wonder happen and I got call from one ma’am from University she told me to go Embassy and collect my passport coz she had talked with Embassy in India to Issue me VISA soon possible. and just after that these people from Embassy called me and said my Visa is ready and i can collect it before 5pm.

    Hey now i got my VISA but it is not Schengen it is written valid for Portugal, But my flight on Monday is from Delhi to Milan and Milan to Porto. so I am wondering if there will be problem because on My Visa it is not written Schengen……?

    Thanks to you

    Jitu.

    • Ashray Says

      Hi Jitu,

      Well, congratulations on getting your visa! :)

      Is your flight from Milan to Porto a domestic flight ? Since it’s a European flight it may be internal. Your best bet is to ask the embassy or the airline. That’s really the only way to know for sure.

      Personally, I think it should be fine since your destination is a European one but maybe your first entry needs to be stamped in before you move around anywhere within the Schengen region. (i.e. once you arrive in Portugal you can visit Spain since the borders are open, but maybe your first entry needs to be in Portugal) But please don’t take this as advice as I really don’t know anything about your visa.

      Call the airline and see what they say. Otherwise you might have to switch flights. Let me know how it goes! Good luck!!

  • Pingback: Our harrowing journey with Zara’s India Visa (in realtime) | Backpack Me

  • Nik Says

    Hi Ashray,

    I can imagine, had similar experiences before..pheww !! Good to know that you got your visa in time.
    How do you plan your longer/extended trips, for instance a longer trip through europe, now a days they provide us Indians with limited travel days on visa according to the air-ticket/stay bookings , suppose one plans for 2-3 month trip throughout europe backpacking and exploring as the trip goes on (not booking all the stay in advance and would want to book your return at some point later during the trip), is it possible to get a 2 or 3 month or even a 6 month multi-entry schegen visa for Indians? have you faced anything like that or any tips on that ? I think you did get some of your visas in foreign land for your extended trips , especially south america? was it easy holding an Indian passport to do so? any other experiences in other parts of the world?

    Thanks
    Enjoy reading your experiences ! :)
    Cheers
    thanks
    cheers !
    Nik

  • Pingback: Schengen visa for spouses / family members of EU nationals | Backpack Me

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