Israel has been on my wishlist for quite some time now. But I had not gotten an opportunity to visit Israel till now. But then a golden opportunity called TBEX presented itself and I did not waste any time in securing a pass for myself. But I needed a visa and here I outline my experience getting an Israeli visa for Indians.
- Login to Israeli Visa for Indians website and download the application form. Also, download the checklist for your reference. If you are applying through a travel agent, please download a consent form as well.
- Make sure you have all the documents in place. Please find the list of documents I prepared:
- A valid passport.
- 2 passport sized photos. I went to the photo studio and asked them to give me photos for Israel visa.
- Flight tickets showing to and fro travel from India to Israel and back.
- Hotel accommodation for the entire duration of my stay.
- Travel Insurance: I am an ICICI Lombard fan and I always purchase my travel insurance online.
- A copy of your day to day itinerary in Israel and an invite letter, if applicable. Since I am going for a Travel bloggers conference, I attached documents showing that I was going to this conference and the various tours they have arranged for us.
- Leave letter from employer mentioning dates and no objection to the travel.
- Personal bank statements for the past three months. You cannot use an online statement. This needs to be attested by your bank. This is to show proof of funds.
- A cover letter mentioning why you are going to Israel and your personal details. This has to be brief and concise. If any of the above documents are missing, then you have to mention in the cover letter.
I applied through a travel agent and wish I had not done that. They were very lazy and they only submitted and collected my passport. It was a complete waste of time and I am going to continue applying on my own from next time.
The day after they submitted my passport, I got a call from the VFS centre asking me to call the Israeli consulate in Bangalore and schedule my interview. The VFS staff sent me the numbers and the timeframe to call the Israeli consulate. Since I was travelling then, I couldn’t get to this right away and I waited till I got back.
I called on a Monday and they gave me an interview slot for Wednesday and asked to be there at least 15 minutes in advance.
I have heard that the interview is not mandatory for all and it is at the discretion of the embassy to schedule one. There was some confusion regarding the conference and I feel that is the reason I was asked to attend the interview.
My Interview experience:
I arrived quite early on the day of my appointment. Security is quite high here and you should not carry any laptops or other electronic items as well as all restricted items.
Once you reach the building, go to the intercom located at the side of the elevator and announce your arrival. Someone from the consulate will come personally downstairs to give you access to the elevator.
Once there, proceed for security check in. Even though mobile phones are allowed till this point, you will have to lock your mobile phones in the lockers provided before proceeding to the interview room.
Once there, wait your turn till you are called. I was the only one there and they called me soon. There is a telephone on either side of the wall and you should use this to communicate with the interviewer.
The interview was pretty straightforward and she asked me few questions about why I was going to Israel. After I explained that I have a travel blog and that there is a travel blogging conference in Jerusalem, she asked me a few follow-up questions to that. She then went over all my documents and verified once again with me as to each and every document.
The whole interview took less than ten minutes and then she said that I will get to know the status within 3-5 working days.
Collecting the passport:
Since I had done through a travel agent, I assumed that they will follow up. Next Tuesday when I called up to find out the status of my visa, the lazy travel agent asked me to contact the consulate. I called them and they confirmed that the visa is approved and asked me to collect the passport from the application centre.
I told the travel agent the same but it still took them 2 days to collect the passport and I could collect the passport only on Thursday.
Please note that all Indian passports applied from India are stamped with an Israeli visa. We do not have an option to ask them for a separate slip of paper.
So, you can see how easy it is to get an Israeli Visa for Indians. I am beyond excited and I will keep you updated all through next week on Israel. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to follow my journey in Israel.
P.S: All photos are by my brother in law Nishanth Nottath and this is from their recent trip to Jordan in October 2016. All pictures are of the Dead Sea from the Jordan side.
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