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Travisa to Cease Indian Visa Processing in the US. Delays Expected!

By June 15, 2013

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A couple of months ago, I wrote about the changes to Indian visa processing, whereby outsourcing companies such as VFS Global and Travisa are being replaced with Indian-owned companies around the world.

A company called BLS International Services Limited, based in Delhi, has been getting all the contracts and is now providing visa processing services in countries including Canada, China, and South Africa.  BLS was also awarded the contract in the US. However, the contract was canceled not long after without reason, amidst reports that the Indian government was caught in a visa scandal.

In the interim, Travisa has continued to process applications for Indian visas in the US. However, according to this news report,  Travisa will cease handling applications from July 1, 2013.  All applications will be transferred to a new outsourcing company.  What's intriguing is that the name of the new company is yet to be disclosed. (Note:  It's subsequently been announced that BLS  will be taking over processing of Indian visas in the US. The company has again been awarded the contract).

Substantial delays in visa processing are expected over the forthcoming months, through the transition period. Therefore, if you're planning on going to India and need a visa, you're advised to submit your application as soon as possible.  Feedback about the performance of BLS in Canada has been very negative (see the comments in this blog post).

Travisa has issued this FAQ about the transition period.

What are your thoughts about the changes?

Note: Latest news reports indicate that BLS is to Cease Indian Visa Processing in the US.

More About Indian Visas:

Comments
June 21, 2013 at 2:44 am
(1) Kathleen says:

According to Travisa website. This decision is being made due to the US deciding to only use US based companies for their visa services. Travisa states that Indian government is reciprocating the same by only hiring Indian companies.

June 21, 2013 at 5:11 am
(2) goindia says:

Hi Kathleen, I think there’s a bit more to it than that. It’s happening all around the world, not just in the US. All visa outsourcing companies are being replaced by an Indian company, usually BLS.

June 21, 2013 at 4:25 am
(3) Brenny says:

I’m disappointed because I’ve had very good experiences with Travisa.
Also, I am right in the middle of an India trip and seem to be caught in limbo between the two companites.

It’s interesting that you say BLS lost the contract because the travisa site says that BLS will be the company that handles visas beginning July 1, as of earlier today.

Anybody else in this special situation where they need to get a visa next week and have to go in person to the embassy as we can’t do it by mail?

June 21, 2013 at 5:23 am
(4) goindia says:

Hi Brenny, I would really love to know what’s going on behind the scenes of the appointment of BLS. Their contract was indeed canceled (see this article: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/287435/indian-embassy-cancels-bls-intls.html ) and fresh bids invited. Seems like they weren’t excluded from re-bidding and got the contract again!

June 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(5) shubham says:

it seems goindia is after Bls .They havent even started service for indian visas in usa and goindia has already started questioning their contract.I sincerly hope these blogs are not paid for by competitors.

June 28, 2013 at 2:52 am
(6) goindia says:

Hi Shubham, of course the blog is not paid for by a competitor. These are my independent views. And, it’s natural to question the appointment of BLS given the circumstances, and given their poor track record of customer service in Canada. It would be remiss of me not to warn people of the potential problems ahead. I sincerely hope they will do better in the US. Let’s see.

July 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(7) Frustrated applicant says:

BLS is the most inefficient and rude company i have encountered. First they were untraceable beginning July 1st. Calls would meet with a recorded message saying that the number did not exist. When they did become reachable, they could not trace my renunciation certificate that had been completed and handed to them with a Fed Ex return label on June 28th by Travisa. It is now two weeks later and they still cannot trace that package while Travisa has responded to me giving me verifiable details of handing that packet to them. I need the renunciation certificate to apply for a PIO for my daughter, but cannot even proceed with the application without the certificate. It is an absolute Kafkaesque nightmare! Makes me think that BLS has some inside deal with the some politician/bureaucrat otherwise why would the Indian consulate put up with this embarrassing outfit?

July 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm
(8) Lijo Joseph says:

Does Anyone knows the contact no of BLS in US? The number mentioned on their website is not valid and I get a recorded message stating that the number is not in service.

Please help

July 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm
(9) Nora says:

a close friend and I have plans to travel in Sept, to visit an even older friend and her family who have moved back to India. We had been told repeatedly, by friends, family and Indian co-workers, how easy it is to get an Indian Visa and that we should wait till closer to our travel dates and that we would need an itinerary anyway.

We were not aware that Travisa is not handling this anymore. In fact, Travisa’s website isn’t at all explicit that you should not at all send them ANY India Visa Applications anymore at all! Applicants are actually still able to access all parts of the application process with no warnings of any kind – we completed our applications last weekend (July 13th) and mailed them to Travisa on Monday the 15th.

We even received all the usual processing emails and contact from our Travisa Agents – who have been FAR less than clear about the situation to us as well.

Now we are finding this out and Travisa has our Passports and we are stuck on a weekend so we can have no communication or way to sort out this huge blunder and mess! I really hope the refund our money and return our passpors overnight with the shipping we paid them to do so – just without our Visas so that we can re-apply through BLS! =(

A question if anyone could please make a recommendation:

When dealing with BLS New York, should we make an appointment and find a way to get down there? Are we more likely to get faster processing that way? Doing that would be a HUGE expense and problem for us, but if it would stop some stress and worry we would find a way.

Or, since we still have about 5 weeks – once we get out passports back hopefully – should we cross our fingers and try the mail service to the New york Office in the way we have with Travisa?

I could really use the help and guidance, I am so beside myself with worry right now and my friend has been crying for hours. =(

August 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(10) Kathleen Marie says:

So, I just sent off my package on the 31st of July and Fedex confirmed it was delivered to BLS on the 1st of August. I have “no record found” when I try to track on the BLS website and I have sent 2 emails now with no response. I also tried to call the phone numbers listed and it says that the number is not currently working? Any idea what I should do? Wait a certain length of time and then???

I am traveling back to India for Diwali but prior to that I have some business travel out of country (not to India) and need my passport!

August 8, 2013 at 8:54 am
(11) Nora says:

Kathleen, how are you trying to track? You should use only your passport number, none of the reference number you have from you application will work a sBLS uses a different number when they start to process.

I’ve read that people sending in by mail can often wait 5 to 7 business days after the delivery confirmation for BLS to even open the package – sometimes longer. This is really because they’re completely overrun right now, they’re understaffed and were unprepared for the influx of work.

The best and fastest way to get anything right now is to go in person to apply. Otherwise you’ll be facing long processing times, no communication at all if there’s any errors in your paperwork/application, and other issues.

Our own experience, since I last posted, has been pretty good – we drove down to NY on Monday. Once we get our passorts & visas back I intended to post again with our full experience.

Best of luck to you Kathleen, I hope they process it soon.

August 16, 2013 at 4:49 am
(12) Manav says:

I would like to sue BLS, these are worst scumbags, travisa was so much better. First their phone numbers don’t work, then they don’t rely to enquiries, then they don’t have status update on their website.

They are horrible, we need to send feedback to our a..hole ministers who make such decisions. God what can greed do to people, I am sure BLS gave them lots of money.

September 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm
(13) NIk says:

I just filed a BBB (better business bureau). And I say YOU ALL DO THE SAME FOR ANY INDIAN COMPANY, BE IT GROCERY STORE, FASTFOOD OR BE IT CONSULATE.
Had my parents passports for 12 days WITHOUT reason and their contact #s were mostly unreachable/useless/clue less about the passport. FedEx took only 1 day to deliver once BLS did hand over, but only after I canceled tickets fearing they will take MONTHS… I had to Re-Book tickets. BLS says I should not have bought ticket beforehand. Jack! You had status changed to ‘completed’ for 12 days and were NOT able to just drop the passport back? REALLY? I am asking BBB to file for $2300 for two canceled tickets.

September 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm
(14) James says:

Thank God, I received my US passport and OCI card from BLS after about 40 days of telephone calls,emails to several email id’s and after a travel of about 130 miles to their office! I feel like I won a million lottery. No call was attended. No email was responded. Just wondering how I can submit the applications of my family members to such an irresponsible company. Embassy should have given their contract to at least two different companies. Sorry that people are left without a choice.

November 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm
(15) babu says:

The whole process of handling visas, passports etc. is not hard if you have experience. This is assuming BLS is run by competent well minded people.

My personal experience with BLS was mixed. They are bad. But I felt within a 4 week period things were improving.

January 9, 2014 at 6:44 am
(16) James says:

I disagree with most of the members here. I have a great experience with BLS, no hassle and pure work was delivered. At first i was a bit afraid but the outcome is positive and on time that’s what matter. Good work BLS, appreciated

January 9, 2014 at 7:26 am
(17) goindia says:

Hi James, can you elaborate on that please. What visa did you apply for and which visa center did you send your application to?

January 10, 2014 at 12:23 am
(18) James says:

Dear Go India I applied for a tourist visa at the Atlanta centre.

January 10, 2014 at 12:33 am
(19) Kiew says:

May I know the name of the moderator for this blog, I guess people here are just putting fake comments against BLS

I applied for myself any my family at the Houston centre and everything was inline as what needs to be done an d the requirements. Helpful website and easy processing. I don’t understand what problem people are facing. Keep up the good work BLS

January 10, 2014 at 10:09 am
(20) goindia says:

I am the moderator and I can assure you that the negative comments are not fake. If you have any concerns, you can email me: goindia @ aboutguide.com

However, very unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the authenticity of all positive comments. After the above comment, a total of 20 positive comments were posted within the span of a few hours, some only minutes apart, using English names. It is clear that the people posting the comments were not native English speakers. In fact, the English used was INDIAN ENGLISH. Yes, there is a noticeable and defining difference. What’s more the comments were posted at odd hours, between 1 a.m. and 4.30 a.m Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the US. This is during the daytime in India. The writing of such obviously fake positive comments is appalling and will not be tolerated here. I have deleted the comments and will continue to delete any such future comments. I further suggest that anyone planning on writing fake positive comments should not waste their time. It only reflects poorly on BLS, and the comments will be removed anyway.

January 11, 2014 at 1:07 am
(21) Sashi says:

@goIndia: I’m trying to apply for a visa to travel to India on 2/3/14. The website is confusing and wont’ complete my app unless I agree to use FedEx as the return postage. I’m applying to SF since I live in LA. My friend and I have called all of the BLS offices, SF phones don’t answer, to mixed results and poor direction if a person answers.
After reading comments here and in other places, if I make road trip to SF to apply in person will that be more reliable than mailing? I only have a few weeks before scheduled departure, thanks

January 11, 2014 at 10:07 am
(22) goindia says:

Hi Sashi, yes, I strongly suggest you go there and apply in person. At least that will guarantee your application is accepted for processing without any issues, and immediately forwarded to the consulate. Be sure to make an appointment first though. It will save you time.

January 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm
(23) Jes says:

I previously got my visas and the OIC card through Travisa without much aggravation. Now Google gave me this new company BLS as the agency I have to deal with. As soon as I read a few instructions on the BLS website I knew it is not a local company but one managed from India, probably with lots of government connections to get the contract, So I knew right away I will have to face sloppiness and delays. Sloppiness begins with their website itself. Firstly they lifted the instructions directly from Travisa, merely changing a few English words to Indian English. Like “Questions” to “query”, adding a heading “Postal” and then its American English translation below as “Apply by mail “!!!. You must try entering “Your location”.in Tourist Visa application. The drop down starts with Alabama and skips to Florida, In the middle you have Arkansas after Wisconsin !!!. (Guys, do you like to consider something called “alphabetical order”, if it makes sense to you?) . Well.. not that someone at BLS did not notice this for all these months. My guess is they did. But you can feel their attitude – “Hey who the *$@% cares!”. And then my nightmare with this warning – “if you have not obtained renunciation certificate earlier, the time taken for processing of visa could be 2-3 weeks”. THREE WEEKS !!!. – For what? It takes 15 days to build a Boeing 787. It took 14 days to liberate Bangladesh. I can see time has no value at all at BLS. Well, I have to deal with them, My family has to go to India and we do need the visa.. So I tell myself, “It will get done..eventually. Even the common wealth games were held somehow”..

January 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm
(24) jes says:

Here are my tips to easily navigate BLS website. Say you are a man and want to buy a shirt on Macy’s website. You click the menu MEN, then select Shirt and so on, right?. Assumption – Macy’s is smart, so think like a human and it works. For BLS web site, assume BLS is stupid so do the exact opposite of what your intuition tells you. Say you want to get a Tourist Visa. Where do you find it? Under the heading VISA at the top of the page? Now, remember the rule and do the OPPOSITE. So look FAR away from this menu item and towards the BOTTOM of the page. See, it works!! Ok, This page has general instructions for all visas. Skim through as it may show all important things. Oops!! The Stupid BLS rule!! Do NOT skim through as this page as this may HIDE all important items. Hunt for hidden text in that “Read more”. Wallah!! There are things highlighted in Red – Real important stuff, so BLS hid them . The red highlight says you need a “Prepaid FedEx Envelop”? Does it exist? Call FedEx. FedEx never heard about it? Ok, may be BLS just wants to confuse you – they need an envelope with prepaid Return Label stuck on it. Now let us see what the Visa page says. It asks me to select my location. I am from Delaware. D is the fourth alphabet of the 26 letters. So under the “Rule” Delaware should be at the he bottom of the list of states right? Yes. There it is. Eighth from the bottom. Now click on the link “View Requirements”. Wow!! It is so clear for a change. A numbered list of requirements 1 to 9. Complete these nine and you are done. Woops !! Under the BLS is Stupid rule, if they said there are 9 requirements, there must be MORE THAN 9. Let me print and see if the Check List under the heading “Forms” has the 10th item.. WOW!!! God Damn!! The Check list itself is the requirement No 10!! You have to sign this and submit it. You got me there, BLS!!! That is really clever (Stupid) of you!!

January 13, 2014 at 2:04 am
(25) goindia says:

Jes, that made me laugh! It’s not funny that it’s the ridiculous reality though.

January 16, 2014 at 11:01 pm
(26) jes says:

Yes, it is really ridiculous. I listed only some of my frustrations in the above post. In reality, the whole website is so sloppy that the CEO of BLS should be sent to a catholic school and beaten with a ruler by the headmistress. .Yes.. If you apply for a visa and you need renunciation, on the Visa order form it says Naturalized on or after June 1 ($175+4.70). So try to guess what the fee for renunciation is. Did you guess 179.70? Wrong. You did not follow the BLS stupid rule from my previous post :) . The correct answer is $182.70. If you think I totaled it wrong, please check else where on the BLS website to find the right answer.

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