visas are not fun

Applying for a visa is a nerve wracking endeavor. I have managed to find myself in three simultaneously strange visa situations at the moment. (Only read on if you know anything about or care at all about Indian visas, otherwise I’m sure this will be super boring for you.)

I need to go to India on a Research Visa, and this had been my plan. However, I just became aware of this wonderful thing called the PIO card that People of Indian Origin can use to enter the country without a visa for 15 years following its issue. So now I don’t quite know which one to apply for — I finally decided that the research visa was the safest (it takes the least time, and exactly fits the specifications of my project) but the PIO allows me more freedom in the country, so my plan is to try to apply for PIO status after I get my research visa (which is sort of pushing it, as I only just got my letter of affiliation this morning from India, and it is three days before the six-week mark for applying for a research visa.) It is unclear to me exactly what can be done from within a country once you’re already there, so I’m trying to get all this done before I leave in mid-August.

To make things more complicated, my father and his parents moved to Pakistan after Partition. This is a fact that has never been more than a topic of casual conversation for me for the past 28 years, but now, all of a sudden it’s a huge deal – there is a question on the application that asks you specifically if your family has lived in Pakistan and it requires explanation. Needless to say I was completely unaware that the issues between India and Pakistan were so pronounced before this visa question came up, and I’m not sure what information they are looking for in the response. Clearly I have a lot to learn.

And to complicate matters even further, I now realize I already have a tourist visa to India that is valid until 2015 that my father got me last time we traveled. But I can’t determine whether it is even viable to try to go to India on a tourist visa for 9 months, or should my maximum duration of stay in the country on that visa expire before my grant does, how it would be possible to apply for a visa from the country itself.

I have to say that as difficult and complex as writing music can sometimes be, I am sure that it is easier than applying for a visa.

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