Argentina is a well known country in India due to the interest in football. But it is nowhere in the “tourist circuit” for Indians. The main reason is its long distance from India and high cost associated with travel. In my case, the starting point of Antarctica cruise was from Argentina and I had to get visa to enter the country. This post explains the process and my experience in getting the visa.
Argentina has two consulate offices in India – Mumbai and Delhi. Applicants have to submit application along with supporting documents to the embassy in hardcopy. Consulate has not subcontracted the process to any agency. Physical appearance is also mandated by the consulate. No concessions given even if you have US or Schengen visa. This makes it a difficult exercise for anyone living outside Delhi and Mumbai.
The documentation for tourist visa is quite similar to other countries except for the following additional stuff. You can visit their website here.
- Cover letter, itinerary and NOC from the company must be translated to Spanish. There is no need for signature in translated copy (as you cannot understand). Official statement from Embassy is that the documents has to be translated by professional translator. They do not accept online translations. I used the services of Spanish institute for translation. Their process was simple. I sent the documents to be translated in email. They sent their quote after some time. I got the translated document in 2 days after paying money online. Note that it is an expensive service.
- The cover letter, itinerary and NOC must be notarised. I don’t understand why this is insisted upon. I do not know why consulate believes in a jobless person sitting in front of Mayo Hall (court area in Bangalore) with a stamp ready to put his sign on any document, without looking at the content. All for money. The translated documents does not require notarization.
- The cover letter must NOT be back to back.
The steps to get visa is as follows.
- Submit the physical documents to consulate. Consulate do not accept documents sent via email or post.
- Consulate will review the documents and contact applicants. Either they ask for additional documents or schedule a personal visit.
- Visit the consulate for interview.
- The visa will be ready after 5 days.
The process is straightforward for people in Delhi and Mumbai. But for people living in other places, they have to make at least three visits to Consulate to get the visa. This is not practical and you have to take support of some agency. After doing some investigation, I decided to use the visa services of Thomas Cook. I registered online by paying fees. That was simple.
The documents that the agency wanted did not match with the ones required by consulate. The people in the call centre were not of much help and I decided to follow the list provided by the embassy website. When I visited Thomas Cook office in Bangalore, the person in charge mentioned that I was the first person coming for Argentina visa. He was clueless!! He would be a postman to send the documents to their Delhi Office. That was not promising but then there was nothing much I could do.
After about 4 days, I got a call that the Delhi office was asking for Spanish translations of few documents. They had also forgotten to get authorisation letter from me. I had already sent the translated copies and it looked like someone misplaced it. Anyway, I forwarded the translations and authorisation letter in mail. It resulted in delay of a week.
There was bad news after a week. The consulate was asking for cover letter without back to back print. It was surprising as it was not mentioned in consulate webpage. Anyway, I had to send the new covering letter (with notarised!!). This time I had to visit their office as I had to provide hardcopy of the letter with my signature and notary. It resulted in delay of another week.
After few days, I got an email from agency asking me to come to Delhi for personal interview. I was asked to chose one of the two dates.
Since the appointment was at 10AM, I decided to reach Delhi on previous night and stay in a hotel. On the interview day, I reached embassy 45 minutes before the scheduled time. Apart from security, there was no one near the building. It was in a residential locality and there was no place to sit. I decided to go to nearby Vasant Vihar metro station and spend some time. It was a hot day and it made sense to relax at the luxury of A/c at the metro entrance.
When I was back at 9:50, there was already a short queue. I silently stood at the end of the queue. The security person recognised me coming early and put me in the front of the queue!! Nice person.
There were some 20-25 people that day in the embassy and most of them were there for Business visa. My interview lasted only for 2-3 minutes. The person was super cool and we had casual talk about my job and the reason for my visit. My flight was in the evening and I spent rest of the time visiting Mehrauli Archaeological park and Hauz Kaus. I got my visa after 10 days as there were some holidays in between. It was multiple entry visa valid for three months with the duration of 30 days of stay.
Key points to consider
- Do not rely on agency to do the job. At best, they can only act as good postman to courier passport and documents. You need to do all homework.
- Argentina tourist visa is free. The translation charges, Notary fees, agency charges, travel and stay in Delhi makes it an expensive visa.
- You can submit your documents 90 days to three weeks before travel. I suggest to plan for some buffer. I submitted 90 days before travel and it took 38 days to get my passport back. Two weeks were lost in additional documentation request.
- It is also possible to get visa on the day of personal interview for a fee. I saw one person availing that as she had to travel in two days. But I have no details on that.
- I saw a board in Delhi Consulate that the people from Maharashtra and Karnataka have to submit documents to Mumbai consulate. But their website mentioned that only people from Maharashtra can submit documents to Mumbai consulate. Better to check as for Karnataka people, it is cheaper to travel to Mumbai than to Delhi.
- The big issue that I faced during the process was on the status of my application. The agency was useless as the call centre support did not had any idea and the person in Bangalore never picked up the call. Later, I got hold of the phone number of the person incharge of submitting documents in Delhi. That was useful.
I met few Indian passport holders working in US and Australia during my trip. They also had to go personal interview with embassy. But the documentation process was simpler. No Spanish translation or notarisation required. The documents can be submitted in email or post.