This is part of a series article: From Shanghai to US – A Handbook. These articles are to help my friends (obviously in Shanghai) to plan their first time visit to U.S. To be concise, I only outline information that I think helpful for this group of people. So don’t be surprised if it left some important information outside the scope.
The most critical, and troublesome step to go to the States is the Visa application and interview process. Let me break it into short sentences.
Disclaimer: I don’t want to appear as object. It is just my personal thinking about my personal experience…
- The U.S. Visa office is at the 8th floor of the Shanghai Westgate Mall at 1038 West Nanjing Road.
- The first time visitor must leave fingerprint there. (I hate it)
- People have to line up very early in the morning outside the shopping more in the morning for the appointment – the application letter states that you must be at the gate before 8:30 (I remember). I mean wait in the rain, in the sun, in the wind, or whatever weather outside the mall.
- No bag can be brought about. No mobile is allowed. There are many people there charging 10 RMB for deposite bags for you. That means, it seems everyone need to pay 10 RMB additionally to get interviewed.
- All first-time visa applicants are required to call the China-wide Visa Information Call Center at 4008-872-333 (for dialers within China) to make an interview appointment.
- The Visa Information Call Center operates Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- You will need to purchase a pre-paid PIN card in order to use this service. Users can pay 54 RMB for a 12 minute PIN card or 36 RMB for an 8 minute PIN card. PIN cards can be purchased at China CITIC bank locations or online at: https://www.usavisainformation.com.cn/eng/index.aspx. Please note, this additional fee is charged out of the visa fee they change.
- You need a completed DS-156 application form in English. (I filled it before)
- You need to wait at the visa office to get a visa (my experience in 2004)
- Sometimes, they pause their visa services completely no matter how important meetings you have.
- Yesterday, the American Chamber of Commerce issued a white paper. The report said about half of American Chamber of Commerce companies in China complained the high rejection rate of U.S. Visa program, and the average waiting time to get interviewed for visa for the year 2005 is 34 days. That means you typically need 2 months in advance to prepare an U.S. trip.
- For normal people to attend meetings in U.S. is almost impossible. For the last Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle, many MVPs in China was invited, but almost none of the more than 10 people get rejected for interview. This time, the eBay community members attending eBay Live, as far as I know, were all rejected to get a visa.
- You can typically apply a multi-entry visa, which makes it much easier.
- The most ridiculous interview I heard with my own ears: Interviewer: “What did you have this morning as breakfast?” Applicant: “Bread.” I: “Nothing else?” A: “No.” I: “According to American law, we cannot grant you a visa.” A: “….”. I was sitting beside the person when he was rejected. You know, it is funny to reject someone according American law just because he only had bread in the morning.
- Feeling of insulting. I know a friend who is a high-rank official. He told me he refuse to go to U.S. for any reason just because he felt insulted during the visa application process.
- I feel very bad to be inspected and get shoes off, and even belt off and inspected as a terrism when entering the room.