Obtaining a Visa to India
We were planning to go directly to India from Istanbul. However, a slight change in plans had us going to the Greek Islands instead. We would be island-hopping and there would be no time to obtain a visa in Greece. We had three weeks in Istanbul, which would be plenty of time to obtain the visa and we were staying within walking distance of the Consulate General of India in Istanbul.
If you’re planning to apply in person and not going through a visa agency, be sure to see what hours the consulate is accepting visa applications. At the time we were applying, the consulate was open for applications from 9-11 am only.
All of the following documents were required of US citizens in the application process:
- Passport(s) – If you have more than one nationality and have another passport, you’ll need to bring it. Two blank pages are required for the visa.
- Current Bank Statement – We were told that we needed to prove that we have at least $2000 each to be approved. However, they don’t publish the exact requirements for pass/fail (and if you’re denied they’re not required to tell you why). We were unaware of this requirement until we showed up. In Istanbul, the consulate isn’t far from several internet cafes where you can do this last minute.
- Two passport photos – Standard passport photos need to be cut and stapled to your application. It’s pretty easy to find this service on İstiklal in Istanbul because there are so many consulates.
- Completed Visa Application – They will give you the forms when you arrive – this just takes about 10 minutes to fill out. Nothing should be unanswered – if not applicable, actually write “N/A” or if none, then specify “none”. They’ll check this over but don’t leave it to chance – an unanswered question could cause delays or denial completely.
- 72 USD EXACT CHANGE – This one bit us and we had to come back to the consulate the following day because they wouldn’t give us change for two one-hundred dollar bills.
They were a bit confused that we wouldn’t be traveling directly to India from Istanbul since we were applying there. Indian visas’ validity start from the date of issue, so he also brought that up. We explained that we wouldn’t have time while island-hopping, but since we only planned to be in India for a month, our visas would still be valid.
When you’re called up to the window, they will review your application, ask you a few questions, and give you a receipt. Be sure not to lose the receipt as you’ll need it to obtain your passport when they’re ready. We turned in our applications on a Tuesday and they were ready for us on the following Monday. There are also specific hours when your passports can be picked up – 5:30 – 6:00pm in Istanbul. If you happen to be in Istanbul, the consulate is within walking distance from Taksim Square.