Indian missions in US scramble to clean up visa mess
Indian missions in the US have turned to social media like Facebook and Twitter as they scrambled to clear up a visa mess in the wake of a change of contractors for processing consular services.
Following complaints galore against the previous service provider BLS International, the Indian embassy here awarded the new contract for providing visa and other consular services to Cox & Kings Global Services from May 21.
The switch, however, made the ordeal of travellers to India, particularly from the West Coast, worse in the initial days.
Outrage and anger over delays boiled over into fights on at least two occasions at the outsourcing agency's office in San Francisco last month, according to a media report.
"Is the Indian Consulate in SFO complicit in stealing US passport... maybe not but should not the DHS look into this," tweeted one angry traveller.
"There would be no emergency if you bozos would just process a normal visa application," he said in another tweet.
The Indian consulate general in San Francisco Friday reassured those who had applied with the previous service provider BLS International for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) that their applications have been taken over processing by the mission itself for processing.
Earlier, to deal with the crisis, the Indian embassy in Washington DC and other Indian consulates in the US started moving own staff to consular service outsourcing centres to help the applicants.
The missions also started providing visa services to all Urgent/Emergency cases directly and set up helplines for complaints against the previous and new service provider.
The Indian "embassy and consulates taking extraordinary steps to respond to recent Consular complaints. Write to ConsularHelpline@indiagov.org," said a twitter message.
"Senior officers would be visiting the consular service outsourcing centres to monitor the progress in service," the embassy assured in another.
The Indian embassy here also advised travellers to send their complaints about returned unprocessed applications despite payment to ConsularComplaints@indiagov.org with full details.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
(Posted on 22-06-2014)