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!