The visa process for a new partner or a partner with a criminal record is very different in India than it is in the United States, and there are no easy steps to get through it, a former diplomat said.
“Indian visa agencies have strict rules about when to take a photograph, the duration of the visit, and the number of days a person has to wait for a visa,” said a former Indian diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said he had taken a series of photographs of his ex-lover during his trip to New Delhi and in the last few months of his relationship with his ex.
“We had a very good time there.
He was very friendly.
I had a few drinks together.
They had a good time,” the former diplomat told Al Jazeera.
He added that it was difficult to get visas for a former partner because of strict rules that only permit an ex-spouse or boyfriend to stay for a maximum of 12 months in India, or 18 months in the US.
“There are a lot of restrictions,” he said.
In his view, Indian visa agents and officials in New Delhi were not taking any chances with his former partner.
“When he came to India, he had been in prison for years.
There was no other option for him.
I know he is angry, but there is no way he can leave India,” the diplomat said, adding that it is impossible to get the visa for someone who has been in jail for so long.
The Indian Embassy in the country’s capital, New Delhi, does not comment on individual cases but does state that visa applications for former partners should be directed to the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Our embassies and consulates are aware of the challenges faced by expatriates in India,” a spokesperson for the ministry said in an email.
“In the event of an expatriacy, the Indian Embassy would be able to advise the applicant of the requirements and procedures for a proper visa application.”
It also noted that Indian visas are issued for a period of at least one year, but that the expatriated person may be granted a longer period of stay.
“A visa may be extended by a period equal to the length of the stay, but this does not mean that the person will be granted permanent residence,” the spokesperson said.
However, there are some signs that things are changing.
“If you have a criminal background, the process can be quite complicated,” the ex- diplomat said and added that the Indian visa system “may be a little bit more lenient” now.
He explained that in the past, if a person wanted to visit the United Kingdom and stay in a hotel, there were some visa requirements that could prevent the person from doing so.
“It is not uncommon for someone to be denied entry to the UK if he is convicted of an offence,” the Indian diplomat said in a recent interview.
But now, it is possible for a person to get their Indian visa in India even without any criminal background.
The former diplomat recalled a case in which a former colleague had been denied entry into India.
The man was in prison and had served nearly a decade in jail.
The diplomat said the visa office had told him that he could only stay for six months in New York.
The ex- colleague appealed to the Indian embassy for the man’s release, and was told that he would be sent back to prison, the diplomat added.
“He was not allowed to return to the United State for six weeks,” the officer said.
The decision to issue the ex‑partner’s Indian visa “is very difficult for me because it’s a very long process and I think there are many people in jail waiting for a decision on the visa,” the consular officer said, explaining that in some cases, the person has already been sent to jail.
“But it’s something I think is going to change.”
In India, the issue of ex-marriages and remarriage is one that is also being debated.
“India is the world’s second largest exporter of Indian women,” said Anil Madhav, an associate professor of law at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New York, who has worked on the Indian immigration process.
“The question is, what is the right policy for these issues?”
Madhaval told Aljazeera.
“How should a new couple with no prior history be treated?
How should an ex‑wife or ex‑spouse be treated?”
He said that it may be difficult for Indian visa officials to judge a new Indian partner’s background and also whether he or she is a criminal.
“Even if you are a good guy, you are still not allowed access to the state institutions and you are also not allowed a visa on arrival.
This means that you are not allowed the same treatment as a criminal,” Madhava said.
But he said it was important to remember that “all Indian citizens should have a right