Thursday, December 24, 2009

The jouney begins - Part II

The planning can be clubbed in three broad groups -

  1. Legal and Financial

  2. Possessions

  3. Relations

For Legal and Financial, the main thing was the immigration aspect. For us, it was securing some long-term Indian visa. For some of my friends who went back, the main issue was to keeping the Green Card alive. Paramita and kids had PIO. I had a 6-month Indian multiple-entry visa that I obtained in haste in August. First thing was to apply for my OCI. Kudos to San Francisco Consulate, the process was very clean and streamlined. It took just 3 weeks to get the OCI in hand. Foolishly I didn't keep a copy of the application number. Otherwise, I could have kept track of the process in detail over internet. I did that when I applied OCI for Paramita and the kids. It also took 3 weeks. For them it was a change from PIO to OCI.

A few people has asked about the practical difference between PIO and OCI. It seems the biggest practical difference is in case of OCI one doesn't need to go and register as Foreign National every six months with the Indian Government (through outposts in most major cities).

The only complaint that I have against the OCI application process is that websites of different consulates as well as the website of the ministry have conflicting information. Some are up-to-date, but a lot are dated. Depending on which website you hit, your application process may be erroneous. Like in our case, the right amount of fee for changing PIO to OCI was misinformed. That took away some precious time and money.

After the visa, it was time make sure we get paid in India and pay taxes. It was time for a PAN card. Permanent Account Number or PAN in India is equivalent to a Tax Identification Number or TIN in US.

The PAN application process is also quite streamlined, it seems. But for people residing outside India, like us, the main inconvenience is the to obtain the attestation for the address-proof. Regular notarization doesn't work. One needs to go to the nearest Indian Consulate to get this attested. It may not be too much of a hassle if one has ample time in hand. But for our case, it was definitely a big inconvenience.

I found a service on the net, They actually run a few more websites with different domains essentially providing the same service through the parent company The extra service they provide is to get your address proof attested. The rest is basically creating a Demand Draf on your behalf, submit the form and mail you back the acknowledgment etc. The price seems to be steep for the work done, but basically you pay for the convenience. I availed their service and received my PAN card in mail within the promised time.

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