India Visa Outsource Company Debacle and Street Fights

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The Indian Embassy’s move of visa providers has gone horribly wrong. I wrote about the nationwide move from terrible BLS to CKGS with cautious optimism that it hopefully would not get worse. Reader Sonia showed alerted me that the transition has been a disaster.

The San Francisco Examiner has published two articles, Outsourced Indian visa company angers crowd, then a week later, Fury, anger over Indian visa mess. The articles are worth reading for their tragicomic tale. The irony that India doesn’t know how to outsource is too rich, not that the US government does any better when outsourcing.

Some choice clips from The Examiner’s reports:

An employee burst out of the doors with hands outstretched, yelling “Listen to me, I’m only going to say this once: Police are coming, everybody has to get out”.

and

The previous company that handled visas, BLS, left behind a backlog of 5,000 unprocessed visas, [Cox & Kings’ Kamal] Singh said.

and

Police have been called out to the Bush Street location to break up two fights, one May 23 and another Tuesday, public safety officials said. Two people also called 911 on May 23 to report stolen passports.

And then when you start reading the comments, it really heats up.

For more, there are threads on forums such as immihelp and FlyerTalk, and the NY application center has a yelp page of solid 1-star reviews, such as Raj N’s:

WORST WORST WORST WORST WORST WORST WORST WORST
PHONES DO NOT WORK .
Why in the world VISA Services have to be outsourced?Adding to it , cannot reach a human at Indian consulate to answer questions related to form that does not sync with the pdf generated . ckgs phones are not working either .. tickets are booked for 14th ..
WHAT A SHAME ..

immihelp has a thread started June 2, a full 11 days after the transition, aptly titled, Did anybody successfully receive Indian visa from CKGS yet?

And this is the country that claims sometime in 2014 visa on arrival for 180 countries will be up and running.

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STTraveller
Guest

I am a resident of United Status and love to visit my friends and family in India but thanks to the New Highly efficient CKGS I am so scared even to apply for a tourist visa as so many of my friends have suffered and still suffering with the financial losses as well as facing mental trauma every day and every minute of their life. The need of this hour is to either Repair them or REPLACE them by a suitable service provider who can handle the services efficiently or let the Consulate take the onus to ensure all services… Read more »

ST
Guest

I am an Indian born US citizen struggling for my Visa for the last One and a half months and have been running after CKGS and tried every possible resource to contact them but all in vain. Finally, I had to write to the below Indian Government Officials for their kind intervention to resolve my long pending case and by the Grace of God and with their extended support, I received my passport with a Visa recently from CKGS. psfs@mea.gov.in vikram.misri@gov.in eam@mea.gov.in amb.washington@mea.gov.in @Gen_VKSingh ( Twitter ) Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha). Former Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army. I… Read more »

Pawan
Guest
Pawan

Getting Visa to India 10-12 years back was extremely simple. Now these days, it is truly very complex and frustrated in case your luck is not very good. I will never visit India If I haven’t my family there due to difficulties in getting VISA.

If there is option apply/provide VISA online even with much higher price will help keep people happy and more income for country.

Siddharth
Guest

CKGS seems to have hired Agents to clean their mess.

These agents are standing outside the CKGS office “SELLING” VISAs at a premium price and getting Visas for travel directly through the consulate.

It is so evident that there is a HUGE commission which CKGS employees and the VISA agents are sharing and could be possible, the Hi-COM is also getting their share as it is a very common saying in India “Bribe is distributed equally in the corruption market.”

Its a Disgrace to have CKGS in US….

bharat bhai patel
Guest
bharat bhai patel

The service fee is so high than the previous service provider. I do not understand even after charging $ 18.00, CKGS is not able to give a basic visa service to us whereas the previous service provider was able to give a reasonable service @ $4.00 irrespective of the consulate delays. Is the government or the consulate people making money with the difference of cost which is our hard earned money going for waste for such a pathetic and disrespectful services given by CKGS. Is anyone listening to this or is it just going down the drain and waiting for… Read more »

Ram
Guest
Ram

@Asar and Rapid Travel Chai:
Despite the pretense of being US citizens, your hurt patriotism, misplaced pride, and outright deceit is palpable. Your vitriol or snobbish put-down of NRIs is a bloody shame. As for sense of balance and morality, there is none. Just STFU!

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Ram – my only point in mentioning people of Indian origin was they the media reports focused on them and my commentary that I, too, would be furious if it were my own country doing this to me, rather than a country to which I had no connection.

Kai
Guest
Kai

I highly suggest that anyone thinking of traveling to India make plans two+ months out or go somewhere else. The bottom line is the CKGS offices are overwhelmed, not taking calls, and sending out only form emails. I dearly wish I had not sent my passport to these people, as I doubt I will ever see it again. Already, I have spent 600+ dollars trying to get my work visa for India, and it is just about too late to take my job. I am planning on going with a second opportunity and will have to break my current contract.… Read more »

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Kai – that is prudent advice. Lots of other attractive countries to visit that properly manage and take responsibility for their consulate services. I got a Pakistan visa in April, that process was quite involved, but to their credit they called me when they had additional questions.

Raj N
Guest
Raj N

Interesting to see one of my posts from other forums picked up here. I Recall my experience of renewing my Indian passport about 12 years ago ( When I was a Indian National ), and the process was smooth , walk in early morning , hand over passport and documents and collect the passport in the evening. Present day one would expect a lot to be streamlined. My trip was planned for 14th, I was planning on sending in my application 4 weeks in advance and then noticed the change in the outsourcing company . Then began all the stress.… Read more »

renostyle
Guest
renostyle

Last month I got a 10 year multi-entry visa from BLS in Washington DC. Many of the yelp and blog posts had me scared to death that the process would be a disaster. Everything went very smooth. Two keys to success: show up up on time (make an appointment) and bring ALL of your paperwork. It’s that simple.

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@asar – from the comments on articles and threads, the most vocal typically seem to be of Indian origin or heritage, for instance consular services related to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards. If it were my own country doing this to me I would also be even more furious at the situation and seeming indifference from the actual embassy. Maybe they feel more empowered to protest that they would in India? When I write about visas I typically put in a disclaimer about the US visa process, which is arguably the worst in the world and I have gone… Read more »

asar
Guest
asar

It seems people in US are more unruly than in India. The US embassy in India is a mess. Sometimes is takes about 3 months to get even a tourist visa and there is no communication in between. However, I have never heard of any fights breaking out in US embassies in India.

Aaron S
Guest
Aaron S

I ordered a visa transfer (new passport) at the end of April and I am still waiting. No tracking on the new website, no communication at all. Good thing I haven’t had travel scheduled in the past month.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Very happy to have a 10 year visa that expires in 2022. Hopefully Visa On Arrival will be a reality by then and I won’t have to go through the process of applying by mail again.

Love the irony of all this, but those poor people.