Indian Passport Renewal in US at VFS Global
NOTE: After 7th May, 2013 VFS is no longer the service provider. The new provider is BLS-India.
Sometime back in April/May 2012 all Indian Consulates in US (New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston and San Francisco) has engaged M/s VFS Global as an outsourcing agency for facilitating the process of obtaining passport related services.
So these Consulate offices will no longer entertain any direct applications or queries related to passport services. You need to contact VFS Global.
VFS Global website: http://www.vfsglobal.com/india/usa/
I had a quick look at the website to see what and all has changed. Most of the process is almost similar to the one I mentioned here in my post – Passport Renewal at Indian Consulate in San Francisco – Basic Process but I will give a highlight of few things that have been changed.
Note: I am discussing mainly on Re-issue of Passport after 10 years.
Disclaimer: Information here is from my own understanding and reading. Always rely on the information provided on your respective consulate’s website.
Application Process Changes
Now you apply through the http://www.vfsglobal.com/india/usa/ website and not the individual Consulate’s website.
2: Applying in Person:
If you are planning to apply in person you need to go to the respective VFS Global office and not the Consulate office. This is what they say:
You are requested not to go by the appointment date printed on the application form.
After filling up your online application form, please call 202 800 7412 to book your appointment (9Am – 6PM) or schedule it online.
Applying via Postal Mail
4: Passport Return Service when applying via postal mail:
Now if you want VFS to return your new passport back via post, you will have to compulsory send the pre-paid return envelope. Previously I know with CGI-SFO you could send a separate money order of $20 as return mail service. This facility is no longer available with VFS. This is what they have to say:
Please Send your prepaid, return envelope if you wish, your processed application, is returned to you by post. Please do not send money / money order / include postage cost in the money order, we are not purchasing courier for the applicants on USPS. Applications expecting service of this nature may face infinite delays.
5: Application Fees:
For re-issue of passport after 10 years is $43(application fee) + $3(VFS Service Fee) i.e. total $46. This does not include any mailing fees as mentioned in my previous point. For more on fees check here.
Now they need 3 photographs. Before they asked for only 2 (at least for SFO).
7: Track your Application
Now you can track your application progress. This seems one of the good thing, though I don’t have any personal experience with it so I don’t know how efficient is it. Still definitely a step in right direction.
8: Customer Center:
You can call for information at +1-202-800-7412. I haven’t called them but from one of the comments in my other post, I think now you might be able to get hold of some person more easily than before (By the way at SFO, my call never went through).
Other general changes
I noticed following on VFS website news page:
4 June 2012: ‘Extension of Validity of Passport’ – Service, is no longer available: all applicants will have to apply for fresh passports.
They haven’t made any more clarification on that. So what I understand it if you have a passport issued under Tatkal Scheme(which has 5 years validity) will not be Extended for another 5 years. Instead you will have to apply for fresh passport(which is same as renewal).
4 June 2012: At Present, Only US Address will be printed on passport issued in USA, even if you desire to have Indian address as mentioned on the application form
I don’t know how much it matters to most of the people but it’s worth noting.
Another important point I noticed is:
Receipt Notice of I-797 and I-485 is Not accepted as proof of Valid Visa only Approval Notices are accepted
Say your visa stamp in your passport and your visa are expired. You have applied for extension and maintaining your status based on H1 extension receipt. On the top say now your passport is expiring. So now you cannot apply for passport renewal until your H1 is approved. I am not sure what happens if your H1 gets rejected and your passport is also expired. It is a very rare case scenario. That simply means don’t wait until last minute to renew your passport.
Overall I see VFS as a step in right direction. These are some of the changes I noticed. There could be more, which I will update as I come across.
I would like to hear about your experience on passport application with VFS Global. So feel free to leave your comments.