Happy news from India!
Today at 12:45 p.m. we got the call that the twins’ passports were ready for pick-up. Ellen stayed with the kids while Matt and I trekked down to the U.S. Consulate in Bandra, about 25 minutes south of our hotel.
Completed passports are given out at the consulate only between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., so we showed up at 1:45 p.m. Before we could enter the consulate compound, a security guard at a station out front asked to see our passports, as well as the receipt from the payment for the babies’ passports.
We ended up having to wait outside for 15 minutes before we could go in, though, as the consulate workers were on lunch break until 2 p.m., and nobody was allowed inside until they were finished. After waiting outdoors (92 degrees and very humid–yum! ;)), they issued us visitor’s passes, and an escort took us into the compound.
Once inside, getting the passports was a fairly easy process. Matt was first in line, and after another 15-20 minute wait, we had the passports in our hands. The only problem? The consulate’s letter that accompanies the passports, part of the required paperwork to get the twins’ exit visas, had an error in it. (We are not, as it turns out, “Mr. and Mrs.” ;)) It took another 15-20 minutes to fix the error and have the letters reprinted, but then we were all set. Just under an hour after we’d arrived, we were back in our cab with the magical blue passport books in our hands.
And just like that, our kids became American citizens.
Two of the three big steps in getting home (obtaining the birth certificates and passports) are now complete.
Back at the hotel, Matt logged onto the FRRO website to get the third and final step rolling. On the site, he filled out the application for Henry and Julianne’s exit visas, and managed to snag a next-day appointment to present our case and our mountain of paperwork. There are a finite number of slots available each day, so we felt lucky landing two of them.
After finishing the online exit visa application, Matt printed the work he’d just finished (an FRRO requirement) and added it to the fearsome stack of paperwork for tomorrow’s appointment.
While Matt worked on the exit visa stuff, I went to the front desk at the hotel to request a special letter on hotel letterhead that states our full names, check-in and check-out dates, and our passport information, with duplicate copies. (It’s just another of the FRRO’s dozens of fun/bizzare/frustrating hoops to jump through.) I thought I’d have to carefully explain to the front desk about the letter I needed, but the manager was like, “Oh, no problem, we’ve done this before.” A few hours later, we had our hotel-signed letters, and added them to the stack.
So, alas, we now enter the final stages of the process of leaving India. We’ve been told it takes about four business days to get the exit visas, so hopefully we’ll have them by Monday.
Then, hopefully, we can fly back to the U.S. on Tuesday (June 4).
We’ve had a good time here, but we’re ready to be home. Not much longer now!