Visa escapades in Jan and March

Here’s an update on my visa situation. Be prepared it’s a long one!

I’ve been based here for nine years. I’ve set up a tourism business for Manjula to ensure she has a secure income.

The first mention of a little local difficulty was Here where I give credit where it’s due

The story starts when entering Bangalore Airport in August (after five weeks in U.K.) I was questioned by FRRO/immigration. They let me in but insisted I register with the FRRO on arrival in Mysore. I did. I’m a bit confused as to why.

Anyway, I registered.

So in October, I get a phone call from Anant, one of the original Directors of the company. He’d been contacted by the FRRO (police/immigration) in Bangalore with a whole series of questions. They were investigating me.

Subsequently they wrote to the very local police station asking them to contact me and get documents and a statement. They were focusing on the fact that I’d ‘wilfully’ not registered at the mysore FRRO each time I’d come back into the country.

I wrote a statement saying that if I had to register and hadn’t it was purely a mistake. I also explained Manjula and I had got married earlier this year, the company was set up for her, I wasn’t employed by the company and received no remuneration. They subsequently asked for my tax returns which I couldn’t supply as there were none as I wasn’t employed and had no income. Get it? 🙃

So as of last week.

I was due to fly to Sri Lanka for my first ever visa run. The time between my arrival in August and the next time in the U.K. was over 180 days so I had to leave the country by the end of Jan.

So what could go wrong?

The day before I was due to leave the Mysore FRRO telephoned and asked me to come in. It was the same helpful chap featured here

Bangalore had informed him, they had decided that I was on the wrong visa.

Sugar!

It was presumably because of the low level of investment/turnover in the business. It’s a small business predominantly for Manjula so doesn’t earn much money and doesn’t require much investment, just some furniture and cycles.

Sugar, this is a real problem. If I leave the country as planned they will not let me back in……

This is a critical time for us.

It’s our busiest time with just a few days with hardly any guests so my plan has been to nip out and rush straight back. Also Manjula had not been well, because of a recurring problem (more later) so I was essentially holding it all together (that’s juggling all the stuff, preparing rooms, making breakfast, leading cycle tours. ( I know, I know violins are playing, but I’m a man, multi tasking is NOT easy) thankfully there was the help of our two cleaners and a Special mention for Tom, Amy, Anne and Dave and of course the forbearance of my panicking – will he get back in- wife.

I’ve just got to go. It’s now or never but it can’t drag on.

What to do?

I feel like I’m appearing in Fawlty Towers and Keystone cops! here I come 🙃

The great guy at the police commissioners gave me an option. Apply for an x (aka entry) visa as a spouse. Great idea. I wonder how long would this take? I just can’t be away from home and Manjula for more than a few days. It doesn’t seem feasible.

I’d planned to fly out of Mysore to Chennai, then onto Colombo on the friday (next day) and back on Sunday. Tickets were bought, small bag packed. Eek.

Tom had a solution: Get a tourist e visa to get back in. I applied on the Thursday, it would take 72 hours to be processed, I flew out on the Friday due back on the Sunday but wouldn’t expect to get the visa until Monday so would forego the flights and dash back as soon as I got the visa. Then I would fly in to Chennai where I’d hope they’d let me in.

Phew. Sounds like a good idea. An Indian solution.

I apply and I’m off….

So it’s Saturday and this trip has proven to be one mishap after another. More details here.

After a day walking aimlessly in Colombo I had supper ( no micro breweries) and headed back to the hotel with my sea view from the balcony.

You know, sometimes things just work out. It’s a hallmark of India. On getting back I get an email confirming my e tourist visa. Wonderful! Not only has it arrived it’s in time for me to go back as planned on the Sunday using the tickets I’d bought!

So what was Sri Lanka like? Loved it. As they say it’s India lite. More later.

Back in our piddling little airport. Yes we walk from the plane.

Next.

I go and get an x visa in March in Sri Lanka when we’re not busy and hopefully Manj is feeling better.

Oh no I won’t.

It’s now March and I’m just heading back to Sri Lanka for a few days. I have a second e tourist visa that will see me through to May when I return to the U.K. and I’ll get an X visa.

Confused?

I just wonder what form the U.K. itself will take in May.

Why is nothing straightforward

A visa run (*) to Sri Lanka.

What could possibly go wrong?

1 flight bookings were made from Mysore to Chennai, then Chennai to Colombo in Sri Lanka. Return in 36 hours or so we thought. Sugar. The return flights we’re booked for the following month! Erm and quickly changed 🙃

2 the day before I’m due to fly the immigration Police inform me I’ll not be let back in on my visa. 😩

3 I apply for an e tourist visa so I can at least get back in. It’ll take 72 hours so I’ll have to miss the rebooked return flights, assuming I get a new visa🤪

4 hotel arranges taxi pick-up at the airport. All goes smoothly until we arrive at the hotel at about 4 am. There is no room at the Inn. How did they manage to book the taxi but not reserve the room? I sleep on the sofa in the dining area. 😮

Thanks booking.com

5 this hotel is a fair distance from Colombo so I check out Airbnb options and find what looks a very promising place to stay in Colombo. I can’t book it. Our AirBnB entry is now in Manjula’s name because of our Mysore Bed and Breakfast listing. 😕

5 there are no micro breweries in Colombo😩

So what could go right?

6 I tramp the streets. Find a cool boutique hotel with sea view, get a basic orientation of the city while creating a list of things to do. Meet some lovely people and do some shopping 😋

6 the e-visa arrives (within 48 hours) on the first night so I can leave on the booked flights. 🤩

7 they let me in at Chennai🤫

8 flights go great and it’s a dinky affair in Mysore 🙄

9 I can surprise my beautiful wife who was a little worried that i might not get back in 😘

A visa run * an extra trip out of the country is sometimes necessary so as not to overstay one’s welcome, usually beyond 180 days.

Credit where it’s due.

I have here a piece of paper….

Neville Chamberlain’s infamous attempt of appeasement with hitler.

Well I also have my own piece of paper.

Here it is….

ok it’s nothing like the first one.

On my return to India in August I was pulled aside by the immigration officers.

It seems that there has been a rule change and I was told in no uncertain terms what it is! (Maybe that’s the link, the current govt is definitely changing things for immigrants, ring any bells?) I’m here on a five year, multiple entry business visa which means I have to leave the the country every 180 days but can come straight back. At first I was uncertain. Does the rule change mean I can only stay a max of 180 days in any one year (in which case I’m very worried) or that if I go over 180 days in one year I have to go register with the police?

Anyway, it seems that if I stay over 180 days in the same year I have to register with the Police. But here’s where the credit comes in….. The FRRO the bit of the Police Commissioners office where one registers were superb. First off, I made a mistake with the form and the documents with an hour to go before the deadline, they sent me off to a chap to sort it out at little cost. Then once completed and an extra letter explaining the situation within a week I got my paper, my residential permit. Hooray!.

I once had to do something similar when I had an employment visa. It was one of those, go to about five different offices, provide duplicate forms, pay different lots of money, fetch receipts, hundreds of photos, wait endlessly…. now just one form and documents submitted online and take copies to the office, nothing more not even a fee, thank you Mr Kumar, job well done.

Let’s just hope the immigration officers are half as helpful when I next try to get in the country.

UK refuses holiday visas

The Home Office also refused visas by saying it was not confident the applicant would leave the country at the end of their visit despite applicants clearly visiting for a specific purpose, such as a weddin; submitting evidence that they had booked and already paid for hotel accommodation ending on a certain date; presenting letters from employers, that stated they had been granted a specific period off work for the holiday; or running their own, successful business back home.”

Guardian Article

This is exactly what happened to Manjula two years ago….. check below for links to the story of Manjula’s visa application.

A holiday visa is applied for

All she wants is a holiday

Let’s try again

She did succeed in obtaining a visa and now has had two wonderful trips to the UK

the not so local (part 2) the Englishman moves back home

Indian ex-employee rescues British boss from destitution.

Len’s story continues and here’s a statement he’s issued…..

An Englishman, who’s been living and working in India for over 20 years has been wholly dependent on his income from London, UK, which unexpectedly stopped. Len Bailey, who is 75 years old and with mobility difficulties, would have been homeless and destitute if his previous employee hadn’t found him accommodation, food and enough money to see him through.

Len says: “ I was completely stuck. No money coming from the UK which I needed to go to London and sort out and the Police refused to provide a ‘letter of release’, to enable me to leave the country.”

Len first visited India over 45 years ago and subsequently set-up businesses providing employment and expertise in the construction industry. More recently having designed and developed chipper technology to sustainably use palm fronds as part of agro waste recycling.

Len adds: “ I had applied for visa and extensions as required via the local police and to Delhi but there had been no refusal, or rejection, just nothing, no response. Now, I need to get back to London to be able to sort out my affairs”

The Police had refused to provide an exit visa or ‘letter of release’ and are now demanding a penalty payment. The UK High Commission were unable to help.

img_0669His ex-employee realising that Len might be destitute and with real concern for his general health and welfare has now made arrangements to pay the penalty set by the Police. This penalty was for Len having continued to live here with an expired visa and with Delhi not issuing an extension.

Once the Police have done the needful and sorted out the paperwork Len will be able make haste back to London to re-establish his income.

img_0667Len, here saying farewell to his Doctor, is now back in the U.K. Having been picked up by a relative at the airport.

Who knows what the future holds…

Len leaves behind a close knit group of friends and numerous families he has helped practically and emotionally over the years.

Manjula’s BIG Trip 2

Manjula first impression of the UK……

 

its all about Shopping

 

and eating out…..

well it didn’t take long to find our first Indians at the corner shop near to Gina’s where we’re staying. Manjula can’t believe how many shops there are and seemingly constantly busy and she wonders does anyone eat at home?

Rewards

image.jpegI have three rewards!

No 1 is sharing the absolute joy of Manjula who seems to have won the lottery! Well she has got a visa for the UK… in her terms its a VERY  VERY BIG win.

Rewards 2 and 3 are the beers I’ve brought from the US and tonight my celebratory tipple will be the first since I returned from my amazing holiday in the US and Canada, with my youngest son Oliver.

But this affair has been a long and arduous journey, firstly (four months) sorting out the inaccurate and inconsistent forms of Manjula’s ID before we were able to apply for her first ever passport (three months) and the grand finale: two applications (six weeks, at least they’re fast!) for the UK visa

But all that quickly and quietly recedes into the distance as the appreciation of Manjula shown by the intensity of feeling bouncing around our home at the moment 🙂 makes it all worthwhile!