Getting a visa for India from Pakistan should be a straightforward process, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. If you’re in Islamabad, you can apply for a visa from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. This requires going into the G-5 diplomatic enclave, a high security area. You must deposit all bags, cell phones, and other personal items at the security checkpoint and take a bus into the high security diplomatic compound. Check with the Indian Visa Office to see what their current hours, but it is advised to go early in the morning.
If you’re in any other city than Islamabad or Rawalpindi, you can apply for an Indian visa via TCS or FedEx Visa services. You can not avail this service at any TCS or FedEx office, but only at one particular branch office in each city. In Lahore, the TCS Visa Office is located off of Gulberg Main, not far from Readings book store. To get there from Liberty Market, Defence or Cantonment, take Gulberg Main past Pace shopping mall and Hafeez Center. Take the next u-turn to get on the righthand side of the road. Get into the service lane as soon you can and look for the blue and white TCS sign on your left. Turn left at the sign and then turn right at the end of that road. TCS will be on your right. The visa office is only open until 4pm, but paperwork can take some time, so don’t get there any later than 3pm.
There are several frustrations with using the TCS Visa Service for your India visa. First of all, the application form is only available at the TCS office. There is no soft copy you can download. Application forms must be typed. Depending on your nationality, three to seven copies of everything will be needed. Be sure to talk to at least two people in the TCS office to get the correct number, as different people will tell you different things. Once I went there was told I needed three copies of everything. When I came back, I was told I needed four. It’s best to add one to whatever they tell you.
You need to pick up the form and get it filled in by a typist. Alternatively, you can type out the answers at home on the computer and paste them on the sheet and then get it photocopied. If they tell you that you need three copies of everything, go ahead and make four copies of everything. You’ll need four copies of your passport, four copies of any previous India visa pages, four passport photos, your passport, and four copies of the application. TCS will only give you one copy of the application and you’ll need to get it photocopied elsewhere. Do not fill it in by hand as they will not accept it and you’ll have to do it again.
Once you have all the copies made, go back to the TCS office and hand them in. This is when you’ll pay the visa fee. You will have to sign some forms saying that TCS is not responsible if your passport is lost en route or if you don’t get a visa. The fee will vary based on your nationality. You’ll need to give your contact information so they can call you when your passport comes back. Within 7 to 10 days your passport, and hopefully your India visa, will come back to the TCS office. They do not deliver and you’ll need to pick it up there. You may need to bring an alternative ID in order to get it.
It’s possible to get all the forms in the morning, fill them out, copy them and get them back to TCS and pay the fee within the same day. The problem is that there is not a typist or a photocopy place nearby. Your best bet would be to go to Hafeez Center (large electronics center) and find somebody to do it there. Otherwise ask a rickshaw to take you down to Main Market Gulberg (about 5 minutes away) and you can surely find those services over there.
If you are short on time, it would be faster to go to Islamabad and visit the India High Commission yourself. For Americans, it is easier and more cost effective to get an India visa from the US. Currently, you can get a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa from the Indian Embassy in the United States, but you can only get three to six months from Pakistan.