Footloose and fancy-free (for an Indian)

Once, long  ago, I used to live in the United States of America.

To be more precise, I used to work there, on an H1B visa.

Then one day, the inevitable happened: my visa expired. I was informed that the only way to get it re-stamped would be to leave the USA, get the stamping act performed, and re-enter with a brand-new visa.

About 99% of my friends and acquaintances in similar straits made the long journey home to India to get this bureaucratic paper-stamping done, perhaps neatly combining a vacation and a consulate visit into one. I, however, had other plans; not having made my annual jaunt to an exotic locale in 2006, I decided to hop across the border to Ciudad Juarez, cozy home of the Mexican drug mafia, to perform my visa duties.

I was informed (wrongly, it turned out, but that’s a different story) that for a one-day trip across the border into Mexico and back, I would not need a Mexican visa. Therefore, I did not get one. But that left me in a rather piquant situation; if I did not get my American visa, I could neither go back to the US, nor stay in Mexico. I did not seriously fear having my visa rejected; however, I did suspect that my visa would go into ‘administrative action’ and a lengthy wait of 3-4 weeks would ensue before I could reapply. Flying back to India for that duration did not appeal to my sense of adventure (and my bank balance).

Where, I asked myself, could I go to cool my heels if this eventuality came to be? Given that I did not have a valid visa to any country in the world at that point of time, I decided that I would skip to a country that did not need a visa for an Indian national.

And so I arrived at a decision that has given me a modicum of fame upon the internet: to post a question on Google Answers, and pay $10 for an answer: “Which countries can Indian passport-holders visit without requiring a visa?” Followed up with a clever loophole that I also sought to exploit: “Also include countries in which Indian passport-holders can obtain a visa on arrival.”

For two days, there was dreadful silence in the ether as one answerer after another (I imagined) looked at the question and found it too difficult or too abstract to answer. Then finally a messiah with the unlikely name of rainbow-ga gave me the detailed answer that I was looking for.

Here is the entire list in all its gory detail.

Some highlights:

  • Burundi and Guinea-Bissau, where I could get a visa on arrival by virtue of the fact that they did not have a diplomat in India.
  • Cook Island, where I could stay for up to 31 days visa-free.
  • Modest Indonesia only required that I have one free passport page to offer to them in return for a visa on arrival.
  • Micronesia – beloved Micronesia! – does not require a visa for up to 30 days.
  • South Korea, the only country with a frequent-flyer program, with 10 visits conferring the privilege of a lifetime of visa-free travel there.

In the interest of both convenience and aesthetics, however, I finally narrowed my choices to the Caribbean. None of Jamaica, Bermuda, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, and St Vincent & Grenadines requires a visa for a short visit. So that was my plan: get my visa rejected, and shuttle off to Jamaica for a few weeks of rest and recreation while I wait for the DHS to allow me back into the US.

Alas! – To my utter disappointment, I got my visa. But perhaps this information will be of some use to some of you, perhaps, in some bizarre set of circumstances? Consider it my small but permanent contribution to world knowledge, obtained at the modest fee of $10 for all (Indian) humanity to benefit from.


2 thoughts on “Footloose and fancy-free (for an Indian)

  1. Maldives definitely has visa upon arrival for Indian citizens, unfortunately it is not particularly close to the US.

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