Thursday, September 3, 2009

Visiting the FRRO (to get the exit Visa)

The visit to the FRRO to get the exit Visa was reasonably straight forward since we did bring all the necessary paperwork. We brought Asha with us again since she knows where the FRRO is, where everything is in the offices, and even knew some options for what to do while waiting for the FRRO to finish paperwork (we chose to go to the Taj Majal Hotel and have a leisurely lunch).
There are several steps in the process at the FRRO. The FRRO opens at 10:00 and we got there at 10:15. Surprisingly, the queue was very short at the counter. The early birds had already been processed, and the late crowd hadn’t arrived. Many people did arrive after us.

When you are at the FRRO building, you go up to the third floor and register right outside the elevator. They’ll ask to see some of your paperwork, but not all of it, and then give you a chip. The chip has a counter number on it. That’s the person who will ultimately look at all your paperwork.

After you’ve gotten your chip, you need to fill out a Visa application on one of the terminals. So, go wait in line for an empty terminal. The automated application seems more geared toward Visa Extensions rather than a Visa for a newborn. As a result, I had to ask one of the ladies working there what to put into several of the blanks. She was helpful with this. Good news, the air conditioners were working, so it was quite comfortable. In the meantime, Asha (who is great with babies and trained as a nurse - you can reach her at ashamj70 at gmail dot com; +91 97657 45028) had changed the baby.

Once we had that printed out, we waited for our chip number to be called. It wasn’t too long – maybe 15 or 20 minutes. We then pulled out all paperwork requested by the lady.

Word of advice – bring copies of everything. There is a copier and a photographer, but waiting in line for each of them will further lengthen your stay. What we need to provide:

* Letter from consulate (they kept the original since it was addressed to them)
* Surrogacy Agreement
* Ticket (or print out of email confirmation) showing we were departing (for us the next day)
* Passport for both parents and Visa for both parents (so copy both passport page and visa pages)
* Copy of baby’s passport
* Letter from Clinic
* Letter from Hospital
* Two 2x2 photos of the baby (I tried to give them the 1x1 photos I thought they required, but they asked if I had larger photos and I gave them two 2x2 photos; don’t know if 1x1 photos would have worked)

The copier was broken, so we had to run down the street to make some copies. A half hour later the copy was miraculously fixed. Maybe it was just out of paper. Copies were 1 Rupee each. But the copier was slow, and there were frequently people waiting in line.

We’d heard that one couple needed to bring the doctor’s medical registration from their clinic, but we were not asked for that.

We got through with our counter lady and requisite copies by about 11:30. She asked us to come back at 3:00 PM to pick up the exit Visa. Asha asked if there was a way we could get it earlier, and the lady said no, which was fine because we didn't really need it earlier. We did not pay any chai pani to accelerate the process, and weren't asked for any. This one was 100% above board (the only one that isn't is the birth certificate).

Since we weren’t far from the Taj Hotel, we went there for Lunch. About US$18 for the buffet lunch in the cafe, which was quite good.

We came back about 3:00 PM and paid and picked up the Visa at the same time. The wait was about 30 minutes to pick up the Visa.

We were departing on a flight the following day. We got the Visa the same day, but the exit Visa was good for one day – the following day. If we had needed to change our flight arrangements, we would have needed to apply for another exit Visa.

Cost of the exit visa was US$80 in Rupees – about 4100 Rupees.

Our international flight was out of Mumbai. We’ve heard that if you are taking a domestic flight and flying out of Delhi, then you need to go to the Delhi FRRO, for example. Do check and confirm.

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