Losing a passport is not a normal occurrence. People usually are extra careful with travel documents like passports which are required to travel from one country to another. We (my wife and I) recently applied for a Visa at the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX and it ended up in a nightmare.
One would expect that things would be seamless at Japanese Consulates, however, a lot of things can go wrong for no reason. We applied for Japanese Visas and we sent in all the documents along with our passports. The Consulate responded back that they needed six months’ bank statements and also mentioned that we need to be sending passports. We were taken by surprise as we had included our passport in the package. For a moment we thought the email would have been sent by error.
If you try calling the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX, you can understand the pain. They are not reachable. We did not want to take a chance and my wife immediately drove down from Austin, TX to Houston, TX (3+ hours drive). When we arrived at the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX – we were told that they did not receive our passports.
My wife tried to explain the situation and they were very rude. The officer at the Houston Consulate threw papers on her face, shut the door, and asked her to get out. When she requested for a paper to write a letter and submit, the officer on duty reasoned that he will not be able to waste taxpayers money. He asked us to go to the the Indian consulate and apply for a new passport. We were completely taken by surprise.
The Japanese Consulate had received all the documents we had sent, along with a return envelope except for our passports. This kept us puzzled. We immediately called up the UPS store where we shipped the document and they sent us a video of the entire shipping process. The passports being put into the envelope at the UPS store were also clearly seen. We showed all this to the Officers and asked them to check their own video footage and find out how our passports were lost. Is this because of the negligence of the people working at the Japanese Consulate? There was no response & the behavior of the Japanese Consulate officials was just rude.
We were also asked why we shipped our passports. They said that folks from Oklahoma drive 6-8 hours for a visa. These kinds of instructions can be provided on their website. The visa application process online is cumbersome and has a very poor user experience. The Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX accepts only cash payments. You can pay the visa fee only after your visa is approved and you either have to drive down again, authorize someone else to pay on your behalf, or things like that. It is an archaic process.
Even if our passports were not lost because of the negligence of the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX we do expect them to treat us with respect. Do not shut doors or throw papers at people who intend to travel to the beautiful country of Japan. There was zero empathy and complete arrogance.
We emailed the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX about all of this and they don’t seem to care a wee bit. We have received no response from them in this regard.
Thanks to the Indian Embassy in Houston, TX
We acted swiftly and got in touch with the Indian Embassy in Houston, TX. They returned our call immediately and helped us with the situation. We got a new Tatkal passport immediately which enabled us to travel again.
It is sad that the Japanese Consulate was so arrogant and non-empathetic towards the entire situation. It would be good to know what kind of steps they took so other people do not have to go through the same pain and trauma we went through.
We also ask the Japanese Consulate in Houston, TX to go deep and see what they can do better to improve as an organization. We are also thankful that we acted swiftly, the situation was manageable for us (except for lost money, time, effort, and agony). We also got help to fix the situation with a new passport. If you think about it, it could have been even worse where we were stranded with no passport if not for the Indian Consulate’s assistance. Thank you.
If you are interested in reading the timeline of events, you can read it here.