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22 March, 2017

PCC for Canada Immigration

If you are within Canada and you need to get background check done in India to apply for your PR, I hope the below information is helpful.

The Consulate General of India is located at 365 Bloor Street East, 7th Floor, Toronto ON M4W 3L4. The closest intersection is Bloor and Sherbourne. The nearest subway is Sherbourne station (

Visa and consular applications are handled by BLS International Services Canada Inc. (BLS). NOTICE. Applications for Visa, Passport, Surrender Certificate, Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card, Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), Certificate of Birth and Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) should be submitted at the BLS Visa Application Centres (VACs) at :

Toronto – 1448 Lawrence Avenue E, Unit 6 A, ON, M4A2V6

Brampton - 10 Gillingham Drive , Unit 201 , ON, L6X5A5

Winnipeg – 1806, 201 Portage Avenue, 18th Floor, MB R3B3K6

BLS International Services Canada Inc. Helpline number is 647-846-8141 and their website

Submission : 8.00 am to 2.00 PM
Collection : 3.00 am to 5.00 PM

The Consulate does not accept any applications directly, except for Emergency Visa, Emergency Passport (Tatkaal), and Attestation. These services are available at the Consulate from Monday to Friday:

21 January, 2017

Demonetization : RBI Chennai NRI deposit

The last couple of months have been very turbulent for Indians as we try to get a grip on the demonetization wave.  While people residing in India seem to have come to an understanding with the new normal, Indians abroad are still confused and trying to make sense of what this means to them and how do they convert/exchange the devalued SBNs (1000 and 500 Rs Notes) with the new ones.
I can claim that I am one of the few NRIs who have successfully submitted my old currency notes at RBI and while I wait for the money to be deposited to my account, I wanted to share my experiences that may be helpful for others who are looking for pointers /directives online but don’t find any useful information.
I visited RBI Chennai on 18th Jan 2017. I had Rs 18,500 that I carried with me when I landed in India almost a week before. Below, I try to provide as much information as possible. If I commit any mistakes in this post, please help me to correct it by leaving a comment.

I would like to clarify that this is my personal experience and this is not authorized by RBI or the government, nor supported by any opposing legal or illegal agencies/bodies. This article doesn’t guarantee that the same process is followed at each RBI branch or within RBI Chennai  for everybody. The process may change based or person to person, day to day, branch to branch and also based on luck, fortune or misfortune of the individual J

Without further Ado, let’s get started.

While Landing at any Indian Airport.

Please note that you are allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 25,000 per person when you enter India. My port of entry was at Bangalore International Airport. After security clearance and collecting your luggage at the carousel, you hit the Customs desk. Please ask for a form for currency declaration.  This is a one page form collecting details such as Passport Number, Flight Number, Resident Status, currency denominations et all. Once you have filled in the form, hand it over to the customs officer along with the currency and you passport. They make entries, count the currency, take it backdoors to get it signed and sealed by the police officer. And Voila! You are done. The airport formalities are done. Please make sure to collect the currency, the form and the passport.

Key Points to Remember

Now, before I proceed further, let me highlight some key points that you need to be aware of.
1)      You are allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 25,000 per person into India that needs to be declared and validated.
2)      However, there is no limit on the deposit amount, if you can prove to the government that this is your legal money that you had left at home / office / wherever when you were out of India.
3)      You would also need to prove that you were out of India Between Nov 2016 till Date.
4)      Please note that you can exchange currency only during your first visit to India after Nov 2016.
5)      This facility is only for Indian passport holders. If you are a PIO / OCI with non-Indian passport, then you are not eligible to exchange the currency.
6)      Even if you are an Indian Passport holder but if you reside in Pakistan, Nepal or Bangladesh, you are not eligible to exchange the currency.
7)      You need an NRO account to deposit the money into. Carry documentation for the account details.
8)      Most importantly, the cut off time to enter the premises is 2:30 PM. If you are not inside the premises before 2:30 PM then you would be asked to return the next day or whenever convenient.
9)      You don’t need to book an appointment to visit RBI, just make sure that RBI branch is operational on the day you plan to visit.

Documents to Carry
You are expected to carry the originals as well as photo copies of the below listed documents. Please note this is not the final list. You may be asked for more documents. It is better to carry other documents as well. Better Safe than sorry

Original documents
1)      Passport
2)      Pan Card
3)      Aadhar Card
4)      Driver’s license
5)      Bank Account PassBook
6)      Customs certified currency declaration form
7)      Bank Statement from Nov 2016 till Date

You will also need to submit the photocopies to the desk officer. There is a photocopier in RBI office but there is a huge queue. It is better carry the photocopies to speed up the process

1)      Passport – a) Front page b)Back Page c) Pages with the last India exit and India entry stamps
2)      Pan Card Photocopy
3)      Aadhar Card / Driver’s license photocopy
4)      Passbook / statement photocopy clearly stating your name, account number, Branch address, IFSC code.
If you don’t have a PAN Card, an additional form will be provided to you that need to fill and submit with the documentation.

Now to the actual process

1)      You will be queued outside the RBI office. Start early. It pays to be among the first few when everybody at the bank is fresh and not frustrated J
2)      RBI opens at 10 AM. An officer at the gate validates your documents and lets you into the RBI premises and you are seated near the security entrance.
3)      Next you go through the security process. You handover your passport and will be asked for Indian residential address. You will be photographed, a RBI Visitor ID card is provided to you along with a paper slip of appointment confirmation.
4)      Next you will be directed to the floor where it all happens. You again go through the musical chair process until you are called up by the front desk staff, who validate your documents, and then ask you to visit the photocopier.
5)      If you already carry the photocopies then you are given a deposit form to fill, else you will have to queue up at the photocopier and return back to the front desk with your documents. Once they validate that your documents are in order, you are provided the deposit form and a token number to see the desk officer.
6)      This form has all the details such as passport number, bank account details, India and abroad residential details, contact details and currency denomination details. Take your time to fill the form.
7)      After you fill the form, you again are fed into the musical chair process and the token roll call. When your token is called for you carry all your documentation to the desk officer who fills more documents and sends you to a verification officer.
8)      You wait in a queue for verification officer who when free will pick your case, validate your documentation and redirect you to a deposit counter.
9)      Then again, you are back at the familiar queues at the counter and when you reach the counter, you pass your documentation and money to the clerk at the counter who fills more forms, takes your money, validates all the currency details, seals your currency in an envelope and provides you with a tender receipt.
10)   Take this tender receipt back to the verification officer, who will sign and stamp it for you.
11)   If you have missed any documents, you are provided an email address to which you need to send the softcopies quoting your tender receipt number. Please note that the soft copies need to be submitted within a week.
12)   Voila you are done!! You can get out of the RBI and breathe a sigh of relief. Next steps are to wait for three weeks until your money is deposited to your bank account.

As I write this article, I am waiting for the money to be deposited in my account. Until then I cannot confirm if this was a futile waste of time or successful adherence to the process investing our total trust in the appointed government and supporting them in the measures to make India a better country !!

01 December, 2014

Book Review : The Shadow of the Winds

Book Review: The Shadow of the Winds
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Spanish)
Translated by : Lucia Graves
Genre :  Fiction, Mystery
Other books in series : The Angel’s Game

The Shadow of the winds is the story of Daniel and his quest to locate the author of a book that he has found and adapted at a secret book society called the Cemetery of Forgotten books. The plot is based in Barcelona, 1945 that is reeling through the aftermaths of the Spanish Civil War and throughout the book you will realize the impact these aftermaths have on the life of the main characters of this story.

To sum it up, Daniel, a 10-year old, son of bookseller is lamenting the loss of his mother. His father takes him to Cemetery of the forgotten books to get him a hobby and in turn a new life. Cemetery of forgotten books is a place known by a few and visited by far lesser people where in everybody picks a book, adapts it and makes sure its passed on to a  new generation. Daniel picks a book titled “The shadow of the winds” by an obscure author Julian Carax.

This book and the quest to locate the author and his other works changes Daniel’s life forever. Julian Carax is an author who is supposedly killed in Barcelona and someone is trying to erase all his works from the face of the earth. Daniel has his own love interests that keep him away from the quest for a while but a few years later he follows up on the quest again. The book then convolutes the stories of Julian Carax as well as that of Daniel leading to a formidable end to the story.

This is one of a kind gothic quest that details the life in Barcelona and the pains of the civil war. The author Zafon, has a way of telling things that anchors your interest till then end. Talking about the end, it becomes kind of obvious. But otherwise it is a great book and I am looking forward to read other of his works.

12 December, 2013

Toronto Zombie Walk 2012

29 November, 2013

CELPIP for PR application

One of the requirements to apply for Canada PR (Permanent Residency) is that the principal applicant must meet the minimum language requirement and prove that he / she can communicate in one of the principal Canadian Language - English / French. You need to clear the language test from an agency dedicated by CIC. 

25 November, 2013

All you need to know about CELPIP

CELPIP stands for Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program. Like IELTS, CELPIP is an English language proficiency exam specific to Candian scenario. The certifcation can be used either to apply for Higher education, job opportunities or to prove English Language proficiency while applying for Canadian PR (permanent Residency) or Immigration to Canada.