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Review of Indian Consulate in Houston

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If you are a non-resident Indian then you have no choice but to deal with an Indian consulate to get things done such as passport renewals, attestations, OCI documents etc. Our prior experiences in the US have been with the consulate in New York and the consulate in San Francisco. While not the most stellar in customer service, the San Francisco consulate did answer the phones during the business hours and replied to emails in a timely manner.

Having moved to Texas, I had to deal with the Indian Consulate in Houston for a passport renewal and it was quite a frustrating experience. My passport was close to its expiration date and I wanted to apply for a new passport. The Indian consulate website had some instructions but were very poor. I had some clarifications but when I tried contacting them, there was no response. I must have tried on 5 separate occasions but no response. I eventually made a best guess attempt at it and couriered my paperwork. The only acknowledgment I got was from UPS to say they delivered the package to the consulate. The website said it would take 4-6 weeks to get the new passport.

After about 4 weeks, I was a little anxious to see if there was any update and I tried calling the consulate but no answer. I even sent them emails everyday asking for an email but no response. One day, I let the phone ring for 45 minutes (yes, I wanted to see how long it would ring) and no one picked up the call. I searched the web for other numbers and called but no response. It was very frustrating that no one answered the phone or responded to emails for 2 weeks. After about 7 weeks since sending the passport I did get my new passport delivered so I was glad to see it come through.

What bothered me overall is, what if someone has a real emergency, like a death, accident, deportation and they needed urgent attention or advise, there is no help from the consulate. They are sent to foreign countries to help Indian citizens and they have a don't care attitude. With probably little to no monitoring on what they actually do, it must be quite a cushy job. As someone from India, I quite expect this but imagine a US citizen trying to reach them and experiencing this. It sets such a bad example for a country that says "We are an emerging market, come visit us and do business with us". Hopefully things will change (but I seriously doubt they would)

Update:
Consulate General of India, Houston has engaged M/s VFS Global as an outsourced agency for facilitating the process of obtaining passport related services, with effect from May 18, 2012. They are located at 1415 North Loop West, Suite 205, Houston, Texas-77018. Applications can be submitted in person or delivered by mail on or after May 18, 2012 to the address of VFS Global mentioned above. Things may actually get better.
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