Registering as a Foreigner is not an easy thing in India these days. When I came five years ago I was not required to do this. This time, oh yes! (Random chance? The government getting more suspicious because of terrorism? The natural arbitrariness of bureaucracy? Who knows!) Too bad that I would be required as an American who is here on a US/India government collaborative program that’s been around since 1949.
I was required to register with all required docs within 14 days of arrival. It took two weeks of a) finding a place to live b) filling out the extensive paperwork to support my identify, my purpose, my housing and the housing owner and then c) struggle with the erratic website required for filling out several forms. Unfortunately, the local Fulbright office scheduled my final appointment on a day I had already scheduled a training. So I showed up on the 15th day. Whoops. Madam, you must pay the penalty fee (even though a good portion of the delay was caused by the government website being down!). Returned the next day with the penalty fee but forgot my passport at home. So I spent almost all day today traveling to and from the Immigration office, answering questions, getting copies made, waiting two hours, and finally receiving my Permit.
Ah, bureaucracy! Ah, patience! But then…. What about the US stance towards foreigners these days? Indian have enjoyed many years of open borders, especially for educated Indians who have skills the US needs. But Mr. Trump has been making it difficult and the number of Indians coming to the US for education and work has been declining.