There's a widespread misconception that marrying someone of a different nationality grants instant permission to go between the two countries for any reason at any time, or that somehow immediate citizenship is granted for both parties in the country their spouse is from. I can assure you this is not the case.
As I approach the one year anniversary of my arrival in India, it was time to renew my Employment visa and my Resident Permit. The Employment visa is the only visa India offers that allows me to work and be on Indian payroll. As I don't have the option of sitting home without income, I had to renew.
The renewal process was as daunting as the initial visa application process. The following documents were required:
1. Original Passport with employment visa;
2. Original Residential Permit issued by the FRRO;
3. Six passport size colour photographs;
4. Personal signed request letters to the FRRO from you;
5. Two copies of the visa extension form duly signed and photo affixed on each copy
6. Copy of your passport bio page and employment visa;
7. Copy of your FRRO residential permit;
8. Original lease deed (in case the FRRO officer asks this for cross-verification); - Please carry old as well as renewed (new) lease deed
9. Copy of house owner's proof of residence and PAN card;
10. Copy of duly executed Addendum to Offer Letter (Employment Contract);
11. Copy of duly executed original Offer Letter (Employment Contract);
12. Copies of your pay slips from June 2011 to March 2012; - Please print each salary slip separately and make sure that the text is legible.
13. Copies of the tax statements you sent us - Please carry all the tax statements you have.
14. Copies of TDS challans from the month of July 2011 to March 2012
15. Copy of company Articles of Association and Memorandum with certificate
16. Original signed visa extension request letter from company
17. Original signed No Indian available certificate along with a copy of your updated resume
18. Original signed authority letter in the name of law firm affiliate
19. Original signed Undertaking letter from company
20. Original signed proof of address letter from company
21. Original signed Monthly salary certificate from company
22. Original signed Annual salary certificate from company
23. Original signed TDS deduction letter from company
24. Copy of HR representatives passport or PAN card or Election card as proof of identity and copy of her residence utility bill as proof of address (being the guarantor
25. A Demand Draft drawn in favour of "DDO, SIB, Hyderabad" for Rs. 7500 towards visa extension fees to be paid to the FRRO.
The above list is what is required to simultaneously renew both the visa and the permit for one year. It allows me to work in India, to live in India, and most importantly to remain with my husband. Without the approval, I can't be here. There is no instant citizenship just because I'm married to an Indian. Subsequently, had the documents not been approved, he wouldn't be able to jump on a plane and return to the US with me. It doesn't work that way. It's not that simple.
Prior to coming to India we had looked into obtaining a Fiancee visa for him, which is a 90-day visa that is granted for foreigners to come to the US and get married. We were told the process of approval takes 180 days. Six months just to obtain a 90 day stay in the US! Does that sound like an easy process? Even once that's granted and the marriage happens only then the greencard or other visa process can begin. It's not easy and it will surely result in time spent apart.
After discovering that, the only logical option was for me to come to India. While it hasn't been easy, I'm with my husband, which above all is my only objective. We'll start investigating visa options for him now, at least so he can come and meet my family, but it won't be quick and easy and just because he's married to a US Passport holder does not grant any assurance that it's a guarantee. Regardless of the time it takes or the challenges we face, we are together and that's as much as I could ever ask for.