Like every year a brave adventurer went to Munich this September to apply for the visa to India. Having a five year long experience I was quite sure that we didn’t make any of these mistakes we did the last years:
For instance, this year all the students signed their application forms several times, all the pictures were at the right size and were glued to the right position and even the telephone numbers were written down only in that way the visa office asked for. To be on the safe side I checked all the papers and double checked the requirements on the consulate’s homepage every day to be ready for any changes. Full of confidence I headed towards Munich.
And once again the Indian bureaucracy proofed me wrong. When I handed over the well elven prepared application forms to the case officer I was quite shocked when I saw him rolling his eyeballs and shaking his head furiously. “Sorry, I can’t accept these! You have to come back again with new forms!” he told me with a smile. “You and your students chose the wrong visa type by checking the wrong checkbox on page two.” I was shocked. Apparently, the office decided only one week ago that you must apply for a student visa instead of an entry visa like in the years before. However, they didn’t mention that change on their homepage (it is still wrong there). Because of that they are happily denying all school exchange applications and are sending the passports back to the schools for another try.
Luckily the change from one visa type to another would be an easy task. The requirements and the questions to answer are all the same you only must check another box, and that’s it. Unfortunately re-checking any boxes is 7.50 € each and a surprising extra fee of over 80 € was added to our travel costs. Furthermore, the office recently got rid of the pick-up-service as well. Now you can’t collect your visa from the office any more but they will send them to your home address for only 23 € per passport. That’s why, in addition to the regular fee of 7.40 € our “gratis visa” for school exchanges costs now nearly 40 € for each participant.
Luckily, we finally got a small discount because I went there in person and was able to explain our disappointment with the new procedure. I just feel sorry for all the schools which sent their passports via mail and will be shocked when they receive their unworked application forms soon.
What to do next year? Apparently it doesn’t help to read the homepage or to bank on your experience. The only chance is to call the office the very day you apply for the visa. But with our luck they will have changed the telephone numbers one week in advance without telling anybody.