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Bangalore FRRO Guide: How To Register or Apply for a Visa Extension Using the New Appointment System

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There I was, the first time I successfully navigated the labyrinth of the Bangalore FRRO in April, 2011

UPDATE 2013: Please be aware that you can no longer simply show up at the FRRO for service as they have implemented an online application and ‘APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING’ service that is required for literally everything, even when there is an emergency. You MUST complete the application and receive an appointment date online >> and show up only on that day. They will not allow you to present your queries beforehand. Appointments are given automatically and can be anywhere from days to weeks ahead so BE SURE TO COMPLETE THE APPLICATION AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVE TO INDIA FOR INITIAL REGISTRATION OR AT LEAST 15 DAYS BEFORE YOUR VISA EXPIRES FOR AN EXTENSION. Their new website is now {at first glance} up to date with the correct documents lists so in my opinion you no longer need to physically go to the FRRO to collect the paper copy as I indicate below. Good luck to you!!! (START HERE: FRRO Online application and appointment generator)

So you’ve moved to India, or are on a short – but official – visit, or any of the other fun reasons that might require you to register your visa with the Foreign Regional Registration Office in order to stay in the country.  Well trust me, you are in for quite a treat.

First off, I think that it’s some of the most fun people watching in town.  If you read my blog, you know the types of places I haunt typically and the FRRO office offers up a mega dose of diverse fun people watching.  Heathrow airport is still my absolute favourite spot to pass time people watching but the FRRO is pretty damn interesting I must say.  Next, you’re going to have to balance out the people watching FUN with the mild insanity of the current process and the lack of customer support.  So far I’ve never met a single visitor to the FRRO who could instinctively grasp where the hell to go next…nor have I have seen consistency with respect to employees explaining — with clarity — exactly what to expect from the visit or where a person should head to next.  Combine these two and what you have is a sure-fire combination for a unique experience, unfortunately often rife with confusion and frustration.

I am now a self-proclaimed veteran of the FRRO experience, having been through the process TWICE in less than six months.  The first time was in April when I moved to Bangalore.  I moved here alone and on an Employment Visa.  It took me 4.5 hours at the FRRO to register my visa and finalize my residency and work permit paperwork…the result of which was a funny, confusing mess.  With that experience under my best I figured it would be a much smoother process the second time around given that I’d been through it just a few months ago, even with the added twist of registering my 15 year old daughter who had finally just moved over.  I mean how much could have changed since April, right?  Ohhh I was so naïve.

This time around I did exactly what you’re doing now.  I started with the Internet.  I went to what appeared to be an official state site but it didn’t offer a checklist of required docs.  After that I went to a couple of other sites that offered up lists and document downloads.  I reviewed the required documents needed to register, which basically looked right based on my experience back in April.  Then I started on the task of obtaining everything that I appeared to need (the key here being APPEARED).  Last, just like last time, somehow I managed to go to the FRRO office to register on the very last day that I possibly could before the late penalty of $30/day kicked in.   ((I have included the list of what documentation is required as a footer to this blog post so scroll down if you wish to review it))

Like death and taxes, no one escapes the FRRO.  So if you don’t have an agent or a kick-ass HR department who’s done this over and over again and will handle the process for you, then please take my advice and spend just a few minutes preparing for the arduous task…and learn from my mistakes.

My first rule for surviving the FRRO experience is DO NOT TRUST WHAT YOU READ ONLINE!  The information I found online, including the checklists, turned out to be outdated.  A quick visit to the FRRO to pick up the latest list of requirements will save you a ton of time and frustration.  I wish I had done it.

Rules to survive the FRRO experience:

  1. Upon first arrival to India (or the month before your renewal date), take your passport to the FRRO and collect the checklists and forms that are currently needed and in use for your visa (and that of your family if applicable).  DO NOT download them from the Internet, complete the PDF auto-fill forms, etc because chances are they will not be accepted — I made that mistake.  ((Bangalore: When you enter the FRRO, make an immediate right and queue at the “applications and police reports” table))
  2. Make sure every tiny detail on every form is complete.
  3. For employment visas, make sure that the company places all docs on company letterhead and that the company seal is stamped on virtually everything bearing the company name, always at the exact spot specified on the document or forms and signed (I had a document rejected because it was signed and stamped in the wrong spot).
  4. Take the time to place all your required documents in the same order as they appear on the checklist.  This seemed to help keep the peace and make the agent’s life easier.
  5. Take your laptop or a good book or music, you’ll be happy for the entertainment.
  6. Eat before you go, there is no food or drinks allowed inside and you could be in for the long haul…you never know.  We were grumpy and starving at the end of our day.

I will definitely do things smarter the next time to save time and help boost my chances of a stress-free experience.  All-in-all I think that things are improving at my local FRRO in Bangalore so that’s a plus.  Fingers crossed the next time we go it will be a smooth and seamless process.

List of documents needed when registering a fresh Employment Visa:

  • Application form
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • Request letter addressed to the FRRO (for delay and overstay only)
  • Original passport + copy (visa page, entry stamp page, photo/validity page/s)
  • Address proof
  • Copy of appointment letter and contract
  • Copy of certificate of incorporation / Memorandum of Association
  • Letter of employment issued by company/NGO on letterhead, addressed to the FRRO and including contract duration
  • Certificate by the company that no suitable Indian candidate was found with Rs. 100 on non-judicial stamp paper
  • Indemnity bond / undertaking letter by the company along with proof of ID of authorized signatory (PAN or passport copy)
  • Financial guarantee from company on Rs. 100 non-judicial stamp paper
  • Proof of annual income, $25,000 minimum with all details (use FRRO template or it won’t be accepted…we made this mistake and because our model didn’t specify if they paid me by cash, check or bank transfer it was rejected)
  • Copy of acknowledgement of PAN application or copy of PAN card
  • If employed by NGO, monthly stipend/salary certificate with ID proof of authorized signatory of the salary certificate

List of documents needed when registering a dependent (not NGO related):

  • Application form
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • Request letter addressed to the FRRO (for delay and overstay only)
  • Original passport + copy (visa page, entry stamp page, photo/validity page/s)
  • Address proof
  • Bank letter or copy of passbook of parent/s + copy of indemnity bond/financial guarantee if parent/s are employed
  • Copy of marriage certificate ((I think this is for Indians only))
  • If parents/spouse are on employment visa, copy of letter from the company
  • Undertaking on non-judicial paper for Rs. 100 that he/she will not take any employment or business, addressed to the FRRO
  • Indian origin of proof if applicable
  • Copy of parent’s passport, visa and residency proof if registered of this office
  • If owns property in India, copy of RBI clearance and copy of property registration certificate
  • For training in military, letter from ministry of defense and letter from local defense training establishment

XOXO Angela

© 2013 Angela Carson

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