19 country’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport

Traveling on an Indian passport has always given me panic attacks during visa and immigration processes. Since the Indian passport is not strong (85th rank as on 2020), a nauseated wave of horrid questions of “What if all the documents are not in order? What if I have missed out a photograph?!” has given me anxiety which lead me to writing this blog of Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

I want to overcome this fear of immigration and visa formalities and help others too. Hence I have compiled visa and immigration experiences from fellow travelers. 

I have taken the countries which are not that common, not common enough for Google/ friends family to answer your queries and the kind of content that even Google cannot answer. 

These are the four questions that are broadly answered by everyone in this blog. I have ensured that none of these travels were made through any Tourism Boards because that would mean VIP treatment at immigration and thereby defying this blog’s purpose.

  • 3-4 lines on – experience about how was your immigration process in this country. (long lines, any myths you had were busted, friendly staff, any bummers, any incident that occurred which you had not read/heard of, etc.)
  • 3-4 lines on – If you know for sure that USA visa helped you get you inside. If not, any special tips that you’d like to give to the readers. I am not asking to add the photographs, 6-month validity etc. Information barring the content we can get from the travel agent/Google. For example, Jordan needs $1000 in cash or Georgia will deport you if your passport isn’t well-traveled.
  • If you have any idea how the process would be without your USA visa stamp on it (if you don’t, please mention this explicitly)
  • Bank balance you need before applying for this visa (I am asking for this information so people can plan this part too along with other expenses)
  • Any other tips which you feel the readers will thank/remember you for sharing.

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Visa and immigration experiences on an Indian passport for the countries:

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Africa

Tunisia Visa for Indians by Abhi aka AbhiIsNotHome

The application process was rather weird, and I am not sure if it is going to work anymore. Most resources would tell you that Indians needed a visa for Tunisia.

But the embassy of Tunisia in India (but the website is no longer working) had a line that mentioned that since October 2017, Indians don’t need a visa to enter Tunisia. I emailed the Tunisian embassy to confirm this, but got no reply. Finally twitter came to my rescue. I tweeted Tunisiatourism, DiscoverTUN and the Indian embassy in Tunisia, and they confirmed that Indians did indeed have a visa on arrival for Tunisia. I just needed:

  • A return flight ticket.
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Sufficient funds, if asked about it.

But back in October 2017, I think think Visa methodology was not even known to the airline carriers. I was stopped at immigration in both India and Oman (my transit country) as both of them wanted to see my visa.

I had to show them the website of the embassy, and my twitter communications with the earlier-mentioned handles, for me to be let through. But once I reached Tunisia, the immigration was extremely smooth. They only checked my passport, did not even ask for the return flight or proof of accommodation, and stamped me in!

I don’t think there is any connection with the USA visa and I don’t think here would be any difference with your USA visa

Bank balance wasn’t specified. Just to be safe, I had about a 1000 USD in my bank account. I stayed for a month, so looked sufficient.

1) Language is a huge problem in Tunisia, as everybody speaks either Arabic or French, and nobody speaks English. I got around this by using the speech mode on Google translate. It saved my trip there!

2) Tunisia is a huge destination for package tourists. So, they have different rates at hotels. One for a room alone, and another for a room with package benefits (Food, laundry, activities etc). If you are backpacking, I recommend taking the room rate, since the food is rather cheap outside.

3) I went during Ramadan, because everything in Tunisia was cheap at
that time, and I love Tunisian Iftaars. But do note that there are real difficulties with this, because you cannot find food/water easily during the day, and the crowds will be very less. Compare the pros and cons before you take the same approach as me.  

This was Tunisia’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Morocco Visa for Indians by Vidya aka VidoutBoundaries

One word to describe my Immigration process in Morocco was BREEZE which was very surprising. The only question I was asked was if I had company and I pointed out to my friends in the other counter. I would advise keeping your documents handy (visa, hotel bookings, tickets) especially if you are traveling solo. 

I don’t have a US visa and it does not help additionally.

Ideal bank balance is atleast INR 1 lakh. I spent 14 days in the country and Morocco is not a low budget travel country if you want to try all the unique experiences it offers. Eg: the Riad stay or Hammam or dessert stay or Luxury trains.  So ensure you have enough amount for these experiences and any adversities.

My Morocco visit worked out a bit on the higher side than planned due to a few luxuries I invested in, which were more than worth it. 

  • Riad stay in Marrakech & Fez. Riads are traditional houses built around a central courtyard, often converted into a hotel.
  • Hammam, which is a Turkish bath, public bathing associated with the culture of the Ottoman Empire, and more widely the Islamic world. It’s a method of cleansing and relaxation where they scrub you down with rhassoul clay until you are squeaky clean. I have tried it in many countries and love it. Uzbekistan and Istanbul were my favorites.
  • The 1st class train tickets. I am spoilt after Japan trains and wanted to see how good the best ones in other countries can be.
  • Live music and cocktails. We stayed mostly in the Medina area which is inside the fort walls where liquor is prohibited. Meaning we had to go outside the Médina into a new town in every city for cocktails. Obviously they were expensive due to this reason.
  • Food was expensive even in little restaurants considering the quality and ambiance for the price. Especially in a few traditional high-end restaurants for local food. You can cut down to half the price if you eat in food markets or in little alleys. 
  • Air tickets burnt our pockets a bit coz travel from India is expensive. It cost 50% the price for friends who joined us from Dubai. 

So plan your trip to Morocco in advance and spend adequate time in this country as you are investing quite a bit. I assure you it will be worth it! Morocco 🇲🇦 is Magical.

This was Morocco’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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A woman in front of a palace gate
Vidya aka VidoutBoundaries in Morocco

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Middle East

Iran Visa for Indians by Thara & Goutham aka TheCluelessCompass

Iran offers two visa channels. One is an e-visa channel where we can apply through their online portal and await confirmation. Once they accept your application, you can take a printout of it before you fly and that is it.

But apparently e-visa applications gets rejected a lot (we applied and was rejected). It seems Iran prefers the second channel. The second channel is the visa on arrival which is is the best option for Indian tourists currently.

Once you land in Tehran, all you need to do is visit their visa counter and fill in the application. A person will inspect your passport, return flight ticket and accommodation details. Once they are satisfied with the documentation, they will clear your visa in their online system.

USA visa do not hold any preference while getting Iran visa. It does not matter. If you have return flight tickets, hotel bookings and a visa fee of 90 Euro , things will be smooth. Their visa is digital. They won’t stamp the visa on your passport. This ensures less chances of visa rejection from any western countries due to your Iran visit history. There were no queues and the whole process was very smooth.

USA visa do not hold any preference while getting Iran visa.

Minimum bank balance was not specified as a visa requirement and we never had to show any such documentation while applying for visa.

It’s a myth that your Visa to US/UK will get rejected if you visit Iran. Iran won’t stamp Visa on your passport so that there will not be any proof that you visited the country.

This was Iran’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Thara & Goutham aka TheCluelessCompass in Iran

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Antartica

Antartica Visa for Indians by Ankitha aka WayfarerFootprints

We had a paper copy of our visa on hand, no other special documents needed. The immigration lines were standard for South America, people are not overly friendly at immigration anyway. Took us about 45 minutes to get out of Buenos Aires airport. 

Yes, the US visa did help us avoid a lengthy visa application process. We have a 10 year multiple entry visa to US, so we were eligible to apply online via the Argentinian e-visa page. We needed to upload passport and visa pages (every single page in the passport, including your valid USA visa).

You will need to go through the local Argentina embassy (without your USA visa), book an appointment and follow the usual visa process if you are not eligible to apply for the online visa using valid USA or Schengen visas.

We were not required to upload any bank documents. 

We got our visa online in 21 days/3 weeks. They might require additional documents for the process, so be mindful of this and keep checking emails/online portal. The entire process could take longer than 3 weeks depending on the season, so ideal to apply well ahead of time to avoid last minute hassles.

This was Antartica’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Ankitha aka WayfarerFootprints in Antartica

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South America

Colombia Visa for Indians by Kaushal Karkhais aka ExcoticGringo

Back Story:

I never planned to visit Colombia on my first trip to South America in 2008. 
It was an impromptu decision while on my travels – making it all the more interesting. I didn’t have a US visa then, so I had to apply for it in Quito, Ecuador in person.

Experience:

For someone doing it for the first time, getting a visa of another country while being in a foreign country was pretty awesome for me! 
The officer was very happy to see an Indian travelling to Colombia, helped me understand the requirements and asked me to submit documents in Spanish. 

This was the first time i HAD to learn Spanish to get around. Using broken Spanish, i managed to pen down my desire to explore a country i knew nothing about, for a period of 1 month. The officer happily granted me the visa with a smile – valid for 30 days. 

I even remember depositing cash in the name of the consulate in the local bank and handing over the slip – quite an experience, but worth it!
Keep your itinerary, ticket copies, photographs, and proof of funds (roughly $50 per day of your trip should suffice as proof of solvency). 
The visa officials look for intent more than specific values. If your case is genuine, you’ll do fine with a shoestring budget.  

Today, it is possible to travel to Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Chile with just a US visa and getting these visas on arrival. 
But even if you don’t have a US visa, it is still possible to travel to South America with a basic plan and tweak it on the fly – keeping some room for such visa adventures 🙂

Remember, when you look at visas as an exciting part of your travel – the process itself becomes a part of the travel experience and you get to understand a bit of the culture of the place you’ll be visiting even before you get there.

This was Columbia’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Kaushal aka ExcoticGringo in Columbia in Columbian attire

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Mexican visa for Indians by Onkar Tendulkar aka IndusTrails

My overall immigration process in Mexico was one of the smoothest ever.

It started with a blank form of ‘visitors permit’ (Forma Migratoria Multiple) being handed over to me by the crew in my flight to Mexico city. It asked for basic questions like name, nationality, passport number, desired duration of stay in the country, mode of entry, if by air then airline & aircraft code, purpose of trip etc.

After landing, I had to stand in one very long common queue for immigration. Usually there are separate lines for home country passport and foreign passport but that wasn’t the case here.

Nevertheless I got through in about half an hour and faced the immigration officer. The lady officer was very friendly and just checked my Canada visa and asked a single question as to where would I be staying in Mexico city. I showed her my confirmed hostel booking in mobile phone. She seemed convinced and she stamped my passport and the ‘visitors permit’ for 180 days and welcomed me into Mexico with a smile. (Note that this duration is completely at the discretion of the officer. It is granted for a maximum of 180 days but I have known of cases where people were allowed just 30 days).

Remember to safely keep this visitors permit until your departure from Mexico when it will be collected again before you board your outbound flight. If you loose the card, you will be charged heavy penalties!

My whole immigration process was smoother because I had a valid Canada visa in my passport. Alternately, if you have a valid US, UK, SCHENGEN or Japan visa, people of any nationality can enter Mexico without Mexican visa, and absolutely free of cost.

There are no prerequisites such as itinerary, hard cash at the immigration in this case.

If an Indian doesn’t have any of the above valid visas in the passport, they have to apply for Mexican visa in advance in Mexico embassy in Delhi, along with documents such as visa form, employers certificate, bank balance and visa fees. 

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Onkar Tendulkar aka IndusTrails in Mexico

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Peru Visa for Indians by Naresh Shah aka MustaMusafir

Since March 2017 Indian passport holders with a valid USA visa are exempt from the requirement of Peru tourist visa. The revised visa rule I knew but not the Peruvian immigration officer at Ecuador-Peru land border crossing. An overnight bus starting from Cuenca in Ecuador conveniently brings travelers to Máncora in Peru. One has to complete the immigration formalities on the border checkpoint while the bus waits in the middle of the night.

About forty of us from the bus queued up for the Peruvian immigration formalities. I was fifth in line and my turn quickly approached. An old immigration officer hurriedly flipped my passport pages looking for the Peruvian visa. In Spanish, he snapped “No visado”? I confidently replied in broken Spanish, I don’t need a Peru visa as I hold a USA visa. He wasn’t convinced and asked me to step aside.

The officer kept processing others from my bus. Uncomfortably I stood aside. I didn’t want the bus to get delayed because of me. At long last, he consulted his colleagues and made a few phone calls. Finally, when he was done with everyone else, I was called back. He took my passport and gingerly stamped Peru visa valid for three months!

I felt victorious! The small victories of knowing the visa rules and putting my Spanish to actual use. Few tips, research the ever-changing visa rules well, carry copies of rules from official government resources preferably in the local language, and stay confident.

Know more about Peru visa process without a USA visa here.

This was Peru’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Naresh Shah aka MustaMusafir in Peru

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Brazil Visa for Indians by Ankita aka MonkeyInc.

Continuing to Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport, next is Brazil.

My 2019-20 Brazil’s trip’s immigration process was scary but smooth.

When I reached the airport, a few people (5-10 people) with me were asked to stand aside for immigration process while the others were let inside Brazil with not much hassle.

After waiting for 15 minutes, an officer paid us a visit and started speaking to everyone with the usual questions. Luckily, I was 2nd in the line and I was asked to enter Brazil thanks to the USA stamp on my passport! And it turned out the people who are asked to wait did not have a USA stamp and presumably hence the longer wait for inspection.

I suggest the bank balance to be maintained while travelling and while applying for the visa should be approximately INR 1Lac.

However, I know of people who travel to Brazil without a USA visa. Brazil’s new rule of visa on arrival for Indians was out earlier this year (2020) yet still there were issues during immigration for some people. Hence, it is better to get the visa process which can be found here.

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a woman sitting on a jeep on beach
Ankita aka MonkeyInc. in Brazil

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Asia

Japan Visa for Indians by Chandreyi & Joy aka TheMoonChasersOfficial

Japan has organisation and arrangement in everything! Same goes for their immigration process. We reached crack in the middle of night yet were greeted warmly by the staff.

Tokyo has two airports for entry and we entered via Haneda airport. We would imagine longer queues at a peak hour but most reasonably priced flights from India are connected via late night arrivals from KL or Singapore so we were spared the rush. Still as you can imagine in a global city like Tokyo, airports operate 24 hours and so does immigration.

It was a busy week considering the ongoing Rugby World Cup and Formula1 Grand Prix so we met fellow sports fans in jerseys on the queue for immigration. It was fun meeting so many nationalities in one place all equally excited to enter Japan. The staff wear masks (pre CoVID-19 and standard process) everywhere in the airport. We had expected a smooth running in a technologically developed country like Japan and it was. The whole immigration process took 2 minutes + queue time.

Although one of us had an active USA Visa at the time of entry, it was not yet approved when we applied for the Japan visa back in India. The process was quite simple and well explained on Japan Travel Board’s website. In India we used VFS Global’s service and had to appear for a quick interview on specified time slots, along with all document proofs. Japan Visa is paid for in advance so you do not need to pay anything at the time of immigration.

Both of our passports were devoid of any active/old US/Canada VISA so its pretty easy to explain this. If you do have an active USA Visa, you may not have to submit a few documents while applying for the Visa for Japan. You can select this option at the time of filling the application form. But for us it was still a simple, hassle free experience to get the Japan Visa. We did not have to submit proof of bank balance (although the Annexure for application mentions this). We applied from Mumbai and got our visa within 3 days.

It is recommended to have a return flight booked and hotels booked before applying for Japan Visa. After doing all this the application requires you to confirm having sufficient bank balance to make your exit in case of any emergency. As mentioned above, we carried along the proof of bank balance however it was not requored for the application later as explained by the official at VFS Mumbai.

The Visa application for Japan is quite simple for Indians. You can do it by referring to www.japanguide.com or any other reputed website/Japan Tourism website. This was Japan’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport

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Chandreyi & Joy aka TheMoonChasersOfficial in Japan

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Russian Visa by Shishira & Navneeth aka TheBagpacksters

We’d heard a lot about the infamous immigration process in Russia! Queues are mostly always long, with people spending five to even ten minutes at the counter sometimes. In fact, it was our slowest entry process amongst the 18 countries we’ve visited.

The staff was generally expressionless and cold and occasionally the stern voice could be heard – but they were seemingly efficient – no chitchat or unscheduled breaks. The thing about Russian immigration is how sceptical the immigration authorities are about your passport! We’d heard horror stories about how visitors were deported to their home countries because of the smallest tear in their passport pages. Now this could be because of crooks tearing off or pasting in passport stamps illegally, but even an accidental tear could’ve made them suspicious. In fact, a google search will show you that even a few Bollywood actors were deported!

To avoid this problem, we took photocopies of our passports before submission to the consulate where we applied for the visa and checked every single page thoroughly after getting it back. The next time we took it out, was while flying out to Moscow and treated it carefully – as if it were glass! The immigration officer proved this wasn’t a rumour, when she took out a lens to study our passport pages! And she stamped us through.

Having any other First World Country (USA/Canada) visa has no impact on getting a Russian visa. However, having a Schengen Visa stamped (old or currently valid) always boosts the credibility! The Russian Consulate does thorough checks on every applicant independently but find reassurance in a well travelled passport.

Besides, the visa process requires a valid tourist voucher to be presented along with the passport at the time of application – these vouchers can be procured from a registered hotel you will be staying at, or from a registered local tour company. We had access to neither since we planned our own travel – but we found an agent who endorsed our hotel bookings on his letter head for a small fee.

Bank balances are not validated at the time of submitting a Russian tourist visa application, generally. However, depending on your passport (new, not well travelled, etc), they may expect you to justify your spending capacity (self sponsor/official sponsor/etc.) and may seek bank statements in remote cases. We were never asked to present evidences of monetary support at any time through the immigration process either. But it helps to have at least INR 100,000 in some form (savings, FDs, liquid Mutual Funds) while applying for any visa.

Apply for a Russian visa at least 20 days in advance, especially if you live in a city where no Russian Consulate is present. Also, Russian consulates do not allow third parties (like Thomas Cook, etc) to apply on the traveller’s behalf. There are very few agents who have been licensed to do so. Find more details read here.

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Shishira & Navneeth aka TheBagpacksters in Russia

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Kazakhstan Visa for Indians by Vidya aka VidoutBoundaries

Eligible citizens from 117 states can obtain the e-Visa online by receiving an invitation from the Kazakhstan side and completing the application form.

But we got a little adventurous and excited about the new transit visa and wanted to try the 72-hour transit visa-free regime where citizens of the Republic of India, flying with Air Astana and transiting via international airports in Astana and Almaty to a third country or returning from a third country, can enjoy a 72-hour transit visa-free regime.

It was an unique chance to discover 2 countries in one go, which I usually don’t do. So instead of flying home directly from Uzbekistan I opted for a connecting flight from Astana.

We had 22 hours in Kazakhstan. We were one of the 1st ones to try this and also this process was new to the Immigration officers. They cleared my friend within minutes who had lesser country stamps but detained me for questioning. They seemed to have multiple questions with my visa and travel to UK, Spain, Jordan, and New Zealand. Apparently my face looked different in the UK visa from 3 yrs ago. After multiple officers checking my passport and verifying details with my plane tickets and stay in Almaty, I was granted the transit visa. 

Surely this experience did not matter much later as Kazakhstan and its people were beautiful and welcoming. I am saying this after just 22 hrs in the country which included walking tours, hiking in snow-capped mountains, staying in a hostel, wine tasting and a domestic flight. It was quite an adventure!

In order to enter Kazakhstan using your eVisa, you need to present the authorities with your passport (which should contain at least 2 blank pages and not expire earlier than 3 months after your eVisa’s expiration) and a printed copy of your online visa

I did not have US or Canada visa then.

No specification on the amount for bank balance but it’s good to maintain atleast 1 lakh. You are required to submit Original Bank Statement: stamped & updated for the last 6 months with a bank seal.

Registration is very important. All tourists who enter Kazakhstan get a migration card at the port of entry, which you need to fill. This card gets a stamp or 2 depending on your citizenship. The second stamp is for your police registration. If you lose your card, upon your exit you will have to pay a fine. And in cases where you don’t get a second stamp, you will have to register at the migration police station within 5 days of your arrival. If you don’t register, you could get into serious trouble and a heavy fine.

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Vidya aka VidoutBoundaries in Kazakhstan 

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Taiwan Visa for Indians by Preethi aka PeppyTravelGirl

Taiwan had a straightforward immigration system. The entire country operates like clockwork and is very efficient.

When I arrived, I did have to stand in a long line, but it was fast-moving, given that there were quite a few counters open. There are different counters for folks with Taiwanese passports, visas and E-visas.

On arriving in Taiwan, I had to register at the immigration desk. This involves registering fingerprints and getting my picture taken, and this was the only time I interacted with an officer during immigration.

While leaving the country, all I had to do was scan my passport, look into a camera, and give my fingerprints into an automated system. I was able to complete my immigration formalities in a matter of seconds.

Procuring a visa for Taiwan was quite easy for me because I have a valid US visa. I had to fill out a simple form, and I had the e-visa instantly, and this allowed me a 14-day stay in the country in one visit. Without a US visa, one would need to apply directly to the embassy in New Delhi with a host of documents including, but not restricted to, tax returns, employment details, proof of residence, travel itinerary, travel and stay bookings in the country, and proof of funds.

I usually always try to show at least a couple of lakhs in my bank account when applying for a visa. This was Taiwan’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport

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Preethi aka PeppyTravelGirl in Taiwan

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Kyrgyzstan Visa for Indians by Sharanya Iyer aka TrulyNomadly

I entered Kyrgyzstan by over-landing from Uzbekistan. There are quite a few land border crossings,   I entered the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan from the Andijan in Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley.

Now, land border crossings in the region are generally very chaotic and time consuming as tons of locals cross over on a daily basis, and the queues are said to be very long with hours of waiting to clear immigration.

Luckily for me, I happened to cross the border on a public holiday- Eid.

 My immigration was very smooth and was done in under 5 minutes. They merely checked my paper e-visa and my passport. They asked me my purpose of visit and stamped me in, allowing me to cross over into Kyrgyzstan, where I jumped into a local bus to reach Osh                           within 15 minutes.

No such thing that I am aware of, for Kyrgyzstan. It’s a pretty straightforward e-visa application online on their official website. You fill in the form, and typically receive a tourist visa valid for a 1 month duration.

            I received my e-visa within 3 days in my email.

However, I must mention here that I’ve heard of these e-visas being denied at random, without any reason offered for the rejection. And if you get a rejection, you are not allowed to reapply for the next entire year. Meaning, you can only re-apply after 365 days since the date of rejection. This has also happened to a friend who had a US visa on her passport, so it doesn’t seem to be linked to that.

I think I had around INR 1,00,000 in my account. This wasn’t explicitly mentioned as a must-have on the visa application website, but I believe it always helps to show some financial backing while applying for a visa.

My visa application and immigration were both such a breeze! My biggest tip to you would be to apply a month or more in advance, just to be safe. And to book your tickets to Kyrgyzstan, to and fro Delhi (if you’re flying from India)

It is the main hub for airlines flying between the two countries, and is significantly cheaper than flying from other cities in India.

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Sharanya Iyer aka TrulyNomadly in Kyrgyzstan

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Europe

Turkey Visa for Indians by Shreya Bhondre aka ShreyaBond

The Turkey visa was quite an easy procedure – had applied for an e-visa online and after filling the form, it’s issued instantly online.
But for filling the form on our passport overall, we have to book tickets and hotels in advance to give details for the same on the e-visa form.

For anyone who is not okay applying online, the VFS office also does it for physical applications but it’s priced a little higher as they charge extra processing fees as well.

There have been some countries where I have travelled visa free – Philippines specifically where I could enter visa free because I had an valid European visa at that time.

There is no specific amount of savings to be shown – only prior flight and hotel bookings are enough.

For all my travels, I only book the above two- flights & hotels in advance and rest is always cheaper to book once you land in the country as usually there are so many combo deals and also the power of negotiations that generally does not work if you do all this online from a remote destination. And you can always check reviews online before confirming the bookings! This was Turkey’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Shreya Bhondre aka ShreyaBond in Turkey

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Cyprus Visa for Indians by Anindita Chatterjee aka Travel.Chatter

The best way I found to reach Cyprus was to go via Cairo in Egypt. When I reached the immigration desk, I was all smiles. I handed the officer my passport and waited for him to ask his questions to which I’d happily reply, “I’m going to Cyprus.” But instead of asking me a question, he told me “Sorry, you can’t board the flight to Cyprus – You don’t have a valid visa!”

As it turns out my Visa agent told me that if I held a valid visa for the USA then I would be allowed entry into Cyprus without getting a visa. I relentlessly tried to convince the immigration officers but in vain. The officer was a sweet guy. He called the Larnaca airport in Cyprus but in vain. Cyprus clearly notified the Indian Airport Authorities to not let me board the flight to Cyprus. I was this close to tears!

Flying EgyptAir and holding a Egyptian visa, I was allowed to fly till Egypt.

Once we landed in Cairo, cleared immigration and picked up the luggage, I beelined to the EgyptAir desk and got my ‘A’ game face on and demanded them to let me into Cyprus. They didn’t dismiss me but it took them awhile before they came up with a firm ‘NO’! I still wasn’t ready to give up and got out of the airport with my friend, took an Uber headed straight to the Cyprus embassy. With 3 hours in hand before the flight from Cairo to Cyprus took off, I wasn’t going to waste even a minute of it.

At the Cyprus embassy we met the receptionist. As it turned out, she wasn’t well versed in English. The way the day was going, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me though, was an eight year old boy who understood the gravity of the situation, came to my rescue and helped explain to the receptionist how, I urgently needed to meet with the Consulate General. Fifteen minutes later I was taken to a waiting area.

I sat there for a good long while, counting down every minute. Finally, a beautiful Egyptian woman walked up to me and luckily she spoke English. I explained my plight to her. She empathised with me but she could do nothing. In fact, she started laughing when I demanded a visa there and then. She said, “How is that possible? You are not even an Egyptian resident!” You have to have at least 6 months of residency status to be able to apply for a travel visa from Egypt. “Moreover, you aren’t even carrying relevant documents!

All I got was a profuse apology. I was tired of listening to ‘no’s that day. I then told her about how many countries I have already visited and how passionate I am about it and that I am a travel blogger and hence I’d write about Cyprus in my blogs. She then finally said she’d have to check with the Consulate General and get back but the answer will most definitely be a ‘NO’.

In she went, while I held my breath. After about 10 minutes she walked out and said it was IMPOSSIBLE.

I could see she was irritated, but I wasn’t budging—I’d planted myself in before her, physically and mentally. She agreed to give it one last shot. I sat there biting my nails as I could see shadows of people walking behind the translucent door. I jumped out of my seat when I saw her. This time she walked out but with a lot of urgency and asked “Can you fill up the visa form? You have just 5 minutes though—today is a half day and the office shuts in 20 minutes time.”

I leapt with excitement, YES! YES! Can I give you a hug?” She smiled. My happiness knew no bounds.

After the forms were filled, we had to pay the fees in local currency which, obviously, we didn’t have. My friend ran to an ATM but instead of waiting I borrowed money from a local who was waiting there and paid the fees to process the form. Of course, I paid the local back once my friend returned. 

Once the form was filled, that beautiful woman (who somehow started to look so much more beautiful) took the forms and rushed inside to process it and in 10 minutes she got out and handed my passport to me. And there it was a HANDWRITTEN VISA for Cyprus!!!! 

This was by far the most precious visa I have ever got in my entire life.

The immigration process extremely smooth. There was no line despite being peak time i.e. August (Summer). The immigration officers extremely friendly and asked only general questions viz. my itinerary, how many days am I planning to stay here, etc. The process was not stressful at all like some countries.

Know about how to get your Cyprus Visa on your Indian passport here.

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Anindita Chatterjee aka Travel.Chatter in Cyprus

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Italy (Schengen) Visa for Indians by Tanayesh Talukdar aka ShoeStringTravel

I had applied for my first Schengen Visa in 2008 when I was a Bachelor and just a pass out from my MBA program. Just 4 days before my departure I was called by the Italian Embassy for an interview process as they doubted by intent to travel to Italy. Once I reached the lady at the Consulate asked me whether the passport and my Visa form was of mine and whether I want to settle in Italy by marrying an Italian girl. Once I told them I was working here in India and I have a girl whom I intend to get married they processed by Visa. Strangely I had applied my UK Visa & Schengen Visa together. I had no issues with UK Visa.

For Schengen Visa you need to show that you have enough assets in India and a steady income source and you have no intention to settle there. If you can show enough assets ( preferably a house in your name) then getting Visa is easy.

If you have any idea how the process would be without your USA/Canada visa stamp on it (if you don’t, please mention this explicitly). For Schengen visa, you don’t need a prior USA/Canada Visa and it doesn’t even help. However if you have multiple Schengen Visa getting a Visa is easy.

For Schengen visa, you need to show a steady source of income in India and few immovable assets (preferably a house in your name) and if you can show bank balance of greater than Rs 2 Lacs you should be good to go. Also one insider tip- Show bank balance of all bank accounts and if possible share investment proofs like SIP/PF etc if you can’t show enough bank balance.  

While applying Schengen Visa don’t think twice before giving any documents, in fact show your income proof/savings a little higher by including all bank accounts. However, this is for the first time. If you have more than two Schengen Visa on your passport then generally its not a problem.

This was Italy’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Tanayesh aka ShoeStringTravel

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Iceland visa for Indians by Arka & Rupali aka TheExploringEyes

  • Iceland is a Schengen country hence one needs a Schengen Visa for entry into Iceland
  • Earlier all Visas to Iceland were processed through Embassy of Denmark but starting February 2020, you now must route your visa application through embassy of Iceland directly.
  • Schengen Visa application fees has also increased from 60 Euros to 80 Euros with effect from Feb 02, 2020.
  • The Immigration was very smooth. Our flight route was Bangalore – Paris – Copenhagen and next day from Copenhagen-Reykjavik; our first entry in Schengen area was Paris, so immigration happened only at Paris. For anyone travelling from India, immigration will take place at point of entry in the Schengen Area. For us it was Paris, this will vary for others depending upon from where they enter the Schengen area.
    • The guy at the counter didn’t ask much question as we already had stamped VISA for Iceland and all tours/stays were booked as well in both Copenhagen and Iceland.
  • We don’t think USA/CANADA visa would have prioritized the process, as it was my (Arka) first visit to Schengen area and for Rupali it was first time outside India.
    • Both of us got our Visas hassle free in the stipulated time.
    • We explicitly don’t know if there is any specific rule that would help travelers get the Schengen Visa if they have USA/Canada visa, however we can definitely say that, with one empty passport and the other with one middle eastern stamp, we got ours hassle free within the stipulated time.
    • It’s straight forward to get your Schengen visa done if all the instructions are precisely followed and all relevant documents are provided. We applied through VFS Global. All steps for the visa application procedure are mentioned on their website. We followed the instructions precisely & had our Visa approved within 15 days.
  • We showed 1.2 lac for two considering all our flights, stays, tours and airport transfers were booked. However, this is a flexible amount. During our research, we had read people with 80,000 balance had their visas approved. Therefore, you would not find an exact number anywhere, but from what we understand, if you’re intention of travel & intention of coming back to your home country is clear (through documents), getting the visa with an average 70,000 – 80,000 shouldn’t be a problem.

This was Iceland’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport.

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Arka & Rupali aka TheExploringEyes in Iceland

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The United Kingdom by Parita aka theskybluebubblegum

Watch this 8 minute video to know about things that you do not have to do to get a UK visa stamp on your passport!

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North America

Cuba Visa by Shivya Nath aka TheShootingStar

  • Indians can quickly score a Cuban visa without a USA visa. I got a Cuban tourist card for 250 Cuban Pesos at Mexican City’s boarding gate.
  • I would say to get this offline than online since the latter is more expensive .
  • The Cuba tourist card serves as the tourist visa for Cuba and  is valid for 30 daysAs of July 2018, when I travelled to Cuba, Indians are not required to apply for a Cuba visa at the embassy. Like other nationalities, Indians can buy the Cuba tourist card before they board their flight.This also applies to Indians who do not have a US permanent residence or a US tourist visa; I was only asked to show my boarding pass for Cuba while buying the tourist card. There is no wifi or any form of internet at Cuba airport; it’s best to carry- proof (email/print-out) of your return flight, accommodation, bank statements, and travel insurance – just in case!
  • An officer showed up after 15 minutes of me waiting at the immigration line and I was stamped and asked to enter the country! No questions asked.
  • Read more about Cuba’s Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport here.

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I hope you have found this article ‘Visa & Immigration experiences on an Indian Passport’ useful. If there are any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments below and we will answer them!

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