Key considerations when applying for a visa to India

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Applying for a visa to India is not a complicated process but does require the traveler to consider certain things. As with most visa applications, individuals are expected to possess a valid passport and complete the necessary documentation and photo requirements before being accepted. There is also a fee that must be paid, depending on the area the traveler will stay.

Unique to India though are different consulate requirements. The country covers a massive land span. As such, different provinces are ruled by various government agencies and offices. The general rules remain the same nationwide, but there are nuances within each consular that are not listed online. For example, most visa applications to India are done online or through a third-party representative. This is usually done when the applicant is still in his or her home country. The process should take approximately two weeks. However, there are cases when the traveler is already in Asia or another country and decides to apply for a visa to India. He or she would naturally presume to go through the same process but suddenly hits a snag: a physical letter becomes necessary detailing the traveler’s profession and reasons for going to India. Online debating does nothing to further the applicant’s case.

This is a fairly common experience for international travelers to India. These types of cases are best handled by a third-party consular service focused on India visa and passport applications. Travelers are spared any surprise as they are informed beforehand what each province expects and their specific travel requirements.

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CKGS deals specifically with all forms of consular services required in visa and passport applications in various areas in India. For speedier and stress-free applications, visit this website.

Rise in plastic surgery cases triggers spate of new rules and passport renewals

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Cases abound of passport holders needing to take new passport photos because of radical facial changes courtesy of plastic surgery. Typically, a passport holder needs to renew his or her passport once every few years, depending on citizenship and the country’s specific rules.

All nations around the world have adapted stricter security measures, including biometric facial and fingerprint examinations. This is to ensure the passport carrier’s safety as well as to reduce the risk of identity theft. During the renewal process of the passport, a person’s photograph is taken. Standard procedures require the hair to be kept out of the face, eyes facing the camera with no accessories such as eyeglasses, face to be relaxed, and a smile absent. This is so that the computer can accurately read unique characteristics in a person’s face.

Computers could register a negative match when plastic surgery significantly alters the features of the passport holder. This will lead to frustration on the part of both government agencies and passport carriers as it has to be proven, beyond doubt, that the person holding the passport and the one in the photographs in the records are one and the same.

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To avoid this, many countries are suggesting that dramatic facial surgery – particularly those that affect the cheeks, jaw, and nose – be followed by a visit to one’s local passport assistance office. If the associates there feel that biometrics in facial recognition could be compromised, a new passport photo might need to be taken, regardless of the validity of the passport at the time. This is to prevent the inconvenience of identification issues in airports.

Similarly, another recommendation is to have a certificate issued by the plastic surgeon validating the person’s identity. This method, however, is not fully recognized by all countries and it is best to know the exact rules regarding photo identifications.

CKGS is a leading global processing company dealing with all aspects of visa and passport applications. For more information about its services, please like this Facebook page.

Indian government pushes Digital India to make passport applications easier

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Passport applications in India are expected to become easier with the new Digital India program. This government initiative aims to improve the current set-up in terms of both processing speed and efficiency. Digital India extends to other forms of online applications such as driving licenses and pensions. According to Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the program will operate on the focus of Pillar 5: eKranti, which basically means that government services will be available to citizens online through an integrated and interoperable system.

The program is still in its natal stage, and bugs are expected. When considering the scale of the country, Indian government officials forecast the program to reach full optimization in around five to six years. This is also because the ultimate goal of Digital India is to provide online services for all conceivable applications, even such services as utility payments, municipality records, public distribution systems, etc. Its initial iteration, however, places emphasis on passport records.

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This has no bearing on prevailing Indian passport regulations. The government is slowly launching the program, and many sectors will only be reached by the end of the year. Still, applicants should speak with their consular advisors and determine whether their passport application would be available soon. Take note that the transition period may include some challenges but government officials assure applicants that everything should be operational in the next few months.

CKGS offers superior support services for passport and visa applications for consulates applying in India. Learn more by liking this Facebook page.

Indian spring: Where to spend the cool and colorful season in India

Indians treasure the season of spring because of their usually humid climate. With colorful festivals across the nation, spring is the best time to explore the country. For those who want to see India in full bloom, here are some suggestions on where to go.

Darjeeling, West Bengal

Most people who are familiar with Darjeeling must have known it because of the tea. Aside from having the best tea, the place also boasts of monasteries and temples perfect for those who plan to go soul searching. With its view of tea plantations and snow-capped mountains, Darjeeling will usher wanderers toward breath-taking moments.

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Valley of flowers, Uttrakhand

Experience the flowers in full bloom in Uttrakhand, south of Himalayas. Capture the view with rows after rows of different flowers at this national park as the view of the Nanda Devi, the highest mountain in India, provides a soothing background to the bursting colors.

Gangtok, Sikkim

A year-round tourist attraction, Gangtok is at its most colorful at the peak of spring. Overlooking the Himalayas, Gangtok is perfect for those who want to be immersed in the local culture as it has great food, numerous places of worship, and cottages for an authentic Indian homestay experience.

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When in India during the spring, travelers can also enjoy celebrating the Holi festival. With colorful powder called gulal thrown at everyone, the celebration is a symbol of good’s triumph over evil and the release of unity, joy, and freedom for everyone.

Cox & Kings Global Services, is a specialist business process outsource agency that focuses on serving consular sections of diplomatic missions with administrative support and managing non-judgmental tasks connected to the entire lifecycle of visa, passport, and consular application process. Read more about different Indian travel destinations and festivals on this blog.

Experiencing Indian culture and history through national landmarks

India is one of the biggest countries in the world, both in terms of population and geographical extent. It also holds one of the richest and most storied civilizations the world has ever known. Here, a wide range of scenery, national monuments, traditions, and sacred places can be experienced, which could partially introduce someone to what the Indian culture and identity can really be all about. As a guide to travelers who are interested in visiting the Asian subcontinent, here are some of the most interesting landmarks that the country has to offer:

1. The Ghats of the Ganges River

In India, Ghats are known as a series of steps which lead down to a body of water, usually a river. The Ghats of the Ganges River is of immense cultural importance because it is one of the holiest places in the country and indeed, in the world. Events such as Aarti, bathing, cremation, and morning meditation occur in the area. There are currently around 85 Ghats along the river.

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2. The Taj Mahal

The ever-iconic Taj Mahal is distinctively Indian. To this date, many tourists still mistake the structure as a mansion or castle where in fact, it is a mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Architecturally, it a fine mix of Mughal, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Indian styles.

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3. The Harmandir Sahib

The Harmandir Sahib is a golden temple situated in Amritsar, Punjab. It is a Sikh Gurdwara (or place of worship) and is one of the h0liest shrines in the country. Sikhs often visit this temple as a pilgrimage site. In the temple, a Holy Granth Sahib or a Sikh scripture is always present.

Travelling to India? Know what documents and other preparations you need to work on by visiting Cox & Kings Global Serviceswebsite.

Efficient travel security through biometric data

Biometrics record data that are unique to an individual. A full profile of a person can be made out from a sufficient amount of biometric data, and even the simplest of biometrics can identify individuals relatively easily.

Many nations around the world have, in the name of security, incorporated biometric data into their consular services, putting an indelible identification mark on all travelers within their border. In theory, this can provide a range of benefits ranging from impeding cross-border criminal activity to protecting individual travelers from identity theft.

In theory, biometric security aims to streamline the security process, especially in situations like international travel that requires both thoroughness and speed. Some applications of biometric technology still in development, such as non-tactile fingerprinting, even offer to eliminate (or, at least, remedy) common airport nuisances like long queues without compromising the safety of travelers.

No security system is perfect, and some doubt the ability and effectiveness of biometric data in security situations. Biometric data can still be forged sufficiently, albeit with great difficulty, and significant errors in the biometric analysis may impede more legitimate travel by individuals whose data cannot be read.

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To the surprise of even the most skeptical, however, even the most rudimentary forms of biometric data can provide surprisingly effective means of security, justifying their use in comprehensive security plans such as those needed for travel.

Cox & Kings Global Services is a specialist business process outsource agency that concentrates in providing administrative support solutions for the consular sections of diplomatic missions. Visit this website for more on the company and its range of services.

Christmas in India: Customs and traditions

Even though Christians make up only 2.3 percent of India’s population, Christmas is a state holiday observed in all Indian territories. However, it is most widely celebrated in areas where there is a large Christian population, such as the northeastern states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, and Goa in the west. Christmas is also being increasingly celebrated as a secular holiday by non-Christian Indians.

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Indian Christians start preparing for Christmas Day on Advent Sunday. They decorate their homes with festive lights, star-shaped paper lanterns, poinsettia flowers, and elaborate nativity scenes, which are often called “Christmas cribs.” Some families place a small oil-burning lamp on the roofs of their houses to symbolize the light of Christ. Many non-Christian Indian families and businesses get in the fun by decorating their homes and establishments with sparkling lights and Christmas decorations.

Christmas trees in India are usually artificial trees or local trees such as banana or mango. They are decorated in much the same way as pine trees are decorated for Christmas in other parts of the world: With baubles, Christmas lights, and tinsel. Some families also use mango leaves as Christmas decorations.

In some places, like Goa, people go door-to-door to sing carols in the week before Christmas. Sharing sweets and fruitcake are also a much-beloved tradition.

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In India, like in other places around the world, cooking for the Christmas meal is an all-day affair that starts at morning and culminates in a great feast on Christmas Eve. Roast chicken or turkey is a popular main course, as are Biryani with lamb or chicken, and curries. Desserts can include Christmas fruitcake, as well as traditional Indian sweets such as Bebica, a soft pudding originating from Goa. Some families, particularly Catholics from Goa, serve pork dishes such as pork vindaloo on Christmas Eve.

After the Christmas meal, Christian families head to church for Midnight Mass.

On Christmas morning, some Indian families give each other gifts. However, most prefer to visit their friends and neighbors to gift them with sweets and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

For more discussions on Christmas traditions in India, follow this Cox and Kings Global Services Twitter account.