Category Archives: United States

Only J (Not P) Survives in US

I am of type ENFP (Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving) in my MBTI testing. (If you happen to know MBTI, you know what I am talking about. I believe in it a lot).

I am a very typical P type of person – the type of people

– who don’t like schedules

– who likes to keep everything open ended

– who want to keep possibilities, instead of fixed.

– who want to understand the world instead of control it.

I typically don’t have schedules. However, in US, without a schedule, it is really hard to do anything.

– You need to make appointment with everyone you see. This is obvious, and not like in Shanghai, you can call someone and meet somewhere at the street corner or at a metro station, in CA particular, people need to drive long to meet.

– You need reservation whenever you go. You just don’t want to drive 10 miles only to find out there is no room there. It is especially bad when you have some people coming to the same place.

– You need reservation to pick up your cars, and return your cars.

– You need to plan very well on hotels, and restaurants, since the experience for a pre-arranged stay is excellent and they have everything setup for you, but walking-in, in contrast, is often very chaotic.

So, look at my calendar (I have a way to hide all the details. Just look at the time blocks)

I cannot imagine I have such a calendar in Shanghai.

I Decided to Learn to Read Menus

Going to restaurants in US is a big problem for me, as I mentioned in this blog: Finally Get into Buck’s Restaurant. GN and I had some nice conversation below it, and it is not a surprise that people cannot realize how hard menu is for foreigners, like English menu for Chinese, or Chinese menu for French…

For example, this section is quoted from Buck’s Restaurant’s menu:

Filoli garden omelette 10.50

(Wild mushrooms, onion, zucchini, tomatoes)

Filoli garden Nearly Non-Fat omelette 10.50

(Cholesterol-free eggs, wild mushrooms,

onion, zucchini, tomatoes)

Devine’s omelette 10.50

(Bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheese, sour cream)

Woodsider omelette 10.50

(Artichoke hearts, avocado, wild mushrooms,

tomato, Jack cheese)

Ham & cheese omelette 10.50

(Diced ham, Cheddar cheese)

I don’t – currently, still don’t – understand what these words:

Filoli – what is this?

Should I read it as (Filoli garden) (omelette), or (Filoli) (garden omelette)?

What is omelette?

Among “(Wild mushrooms, onion, zucchini, tomatoes)”, I only recognize mushrooms, and tomatoes. What is onion, and zucchini?

Actually, it is pretty simple to understand what they are just by spending some time. So I have made a decision to learn the menus, and to understand what everything is before my next US trip.

Call Back China from Abroad: **139*#

When I want to make an emergency call using my China mobile in US, the best way to call is to use the **139* service.

How it Works

It works this way.

When the China Mobile user is roaming in US, the charge for him/her to call back to China is relatively very high. However, if there is someone in China call his/her mobile, the charge will be at the rate of receiving phone call, and is much lower.

How to Dial

Just dial

**139*86mobile number#

Calling fixed line looks like:

**139*86fixed line number including area code#

It works pretty well.

Starting the Longest Day

Every time I fly over the pacific, the day become one of the longest day I have. I am going to be stuck in the day of Sept 13th, for 40 hours.

I am flying to San Francisco at 12:25 via UA858 (I know many people recommend me to avoid this flight), and in the several days ahead, most of my blog entries can be out of order in terms of publishing time due to the time difference.

My hope for the trip today is to get rid of the jet lag quicker.

SHA to SFO Air Tickets are Cheap Now

I frequently receive promotion from Northwest Airlines. Their price is pretty cheap!

Look at this one:

image

Basically, they are saying that

Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou to Tokyo round trip: 1750 RMB or 245 USD
Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou to LA, SFO, Seattle, Portland round trip: 2690 RMB or 377 USD
Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou to New York, Chicago, and most of other cities in North America: 3650 RMB or 512 USD.

Isn’t that cheap?

Fingerprint for U.S. Visa

Visa time again. I am sure that every year, I have to visit the US consulate to renew my visa. The first time I went there, I was excited, very excited to finally go abroad, which is kind of hard for many people in China. After going there for many times, I just don’t appreciate the experience so much. It is almost the same experience like going to a hospital. Let me try to narrate my experience so hopefully you experience the same thing through my eyes.

My Visa

My visa expires the day before yesterday. To make sure I can travel to the States at any time, I decided to extend it.

Extending Visas

Extending visa is not as bad as first time application. It just requires me to go there and have my finger-print. No need to talk.

I don’t want to talk about the ridiculous story that the interviewer just asked what the applicants had as breakfast before she rejected the application.

Many People there

Outside the Meilong Town Plaza, many people were waiting, much more than any time I had saw. It makes sense if you see the data of Sina-U.S. trading numbers.

Now they have four different lines with each line having 50+ people.

There is a dedicated line for first time applicants.

One for AmCham first time applicants.

There is one line for AmCham company applicants for fingerprint.

There is one line for CITIC applicants for fingerprint.

Before, there are only two lines.

Security

As always, it is not allowed to bring mobile phones, bags, or anything electronic, or not transparent into the room. Nowadays, it is very unusual for someone to leave his/her mobile phone at home.

So there are deposit services – 10 RMB for keeping the bag or mobile phone for you. It is across the street, and is privately held store. Every time I had to pay 10 RMB to that store – who didn’t?

I am not Feeling Good

Although it is normal for many places in U.S. to set strict rules of entering a building, to enter U.S. consulate visa office is still not a comfortable experience. You have to have put your belt, your shoes into the scanner.

Well. This is reasonable, but, the problem is, there are some kinds of complicated feeling there. It is inside a building in China – as many people complained when are required to do so.

Due to the large amount of applicants, the security guards tried to be efficient with the process, and most of the time, efficient means not to take care of people’s feeling that much.

A Fingerprint = 1 hour

After waiting downstairs for half an hour and waiting in the visa room for one hour, I finally had my two fingers pressing on the red shining fingerprint reader, and hopeful, I can get my passport back four days from today. I should have a new visa on it.

Ironically, although I am not happy about the U.S. visa process, it is still faster than the 7 days of wait for Hong Kong “visa”. I would have made a political mistake if I call the Hong Kong Entrance Permit a visa. It is not a visa, but much slower than a visa application. Now it seems entering Hong Kong for a Chinese citizen is harder than go to U.S. (if you simply see the time needed).

Another interesting thing is, some people compared the scoring system of migrating from China to Canada, and the scoring system of migrating from other places into Shanghai. The later is even harder. The simply conclusion (although not really true) is, it is easier for a Chinese citizen to migration to Canada than migrating within the country.

Hope something changes in the future.

United Airlines Telephone in Shanghai

Telephone:

+86-21-33114567

Researvation

Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Saturday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Ticket:

Mondy – Friday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Saturday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Note: The old number, as published in the United.com and almost all the publications of United +86-21-62798009 does not work in Nov 2004.

The telephone system suggest travellers to arrive at the airport 3 hours before departure.

P.S. My mileage number: 01531062422

Getting U.S. Visa in China

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.

Renting a Car in U.S.

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.

I will cover about grand transportation about people from China arrives in U.S. later, but this time, I will talk about renting a car in U.S. with Chinese Driver’s License.

Motivation to Learn to Drive

The matter of fact in China is, most people don’t have a car, like I did in my first 5 years after graduate.

And most people don’t even plan for that, since there are just enough dreams to be filled before a car. Also, the great public transportation system in every city in China makes it possible to live wonderful life without a car. In Shanghai, for example, Metro, buses, and taxis are easily accessible.

But believe me, everything people go back from the States, there is strong desire to learn to drive, since people found it is so convenient to have a car and drive around in the vast west of the country, and the life is so hard without a car. In Seattle, for example, although the Homestead is just several blocks away from Microsoft campus, it still takes much time to walk, not to mention the nearest shopping center. Taxi works different in U.S., it is cheaper to rent a car than taxi, and you have to call and wait for 15 minutes for a taxi.

So every time I got back from the State, I promised I will learn to drive and get a driver’s license.

If you are going to U.S., or plan to do so, I suggest you get a driver’s license ASAP. It will save you much time and money in U.S.

How the Driver’s License from Chinese works in the States

Basically, driver’s license in China works well in U.S. I didn’t find any documents, but it worked for me at least in both AVIS in Seattle Airport, WA, or San Francisco Airport, CA.

The Chinese driver’s license only have Chinese characters, not any English words there. I believe they can only tell it is your document from the photo. It seems when the inspector feels you are confident enough to tell them it is the government issue valid license, they accept it.

It worked out once in AVIS at SFO airport, when I forgot to bring an English copy.

If you want to be safe, and show respect to car rental companies, you can bring an English translation of the driver’s license with you.

Here is the sample created by Edward Wang

Driving License of The People’s Republic of China (Original)

License No. : 3521011977xxxx08xx

Name: Wang Qingsheng Gender: Male Birth Date: xxxx, 1977

Address: Rm 415, No. 230, Jiujiang Road , Huangpu district

Stamp of Issuing Authority

Date of Issue: June 8, 2004

Vehicle Type : C

Effective Period : From June 8, 2004 to June 8, 2010

Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau , Public Security and Traffic Administration Bureau , Vehicle Administration Office

I used the template and print it out with my printer. It works like a charm in U.S. You also can get an official translation from the government agencies and pay for that. For me, I don’t think it is necessary.

Other Tips

Do reserve before you go.

Logon to either AVIS, or HERTZ. Don’t expect cars available for you at airport. Last time, I went there, and found there is no cars available. It is good that I have reserved one. How disappointing it is when you plan to travel by car but find out they don’t have one for you.

Also, almost all cars are automatic shift cars. In China, many people drive manual shift cars. The change is not challenging at all. It is much easier to drive auto-shift car even though you never touch it before. Put the shift to “D”, and everything works well.

There are two gas plan – one is getting the car at full gas, and fill it to full. The other option is to let the rental company do it for you, but the gas is a little bit more expensive.

I would suggest to have the rental company to fill the gas for you. You may not be familiar with the location of gas station; what type of gas you should fill, and even how to operate the the machine. So leave the challenging work to the next time.

Last but absolutely not least, drive safely. I know people who killed themselves at highway in U.S. If you are not sure, do not drive at all. Also, do not drive if it is your first time to visit the States. You should sit in a car to watch how cars and roads work before you actually drive.

Good luck!

Flight From Shanghai to U.S.

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.

To go to U.S. from Shanghai, there are not too much choices of flight. If you visit San Francisco, there is actually only one flight: UA858 (status) you may take. Most U.S. company including Microsoft and eBay choose this flight. Here is the schedule:

United Airlines

12:45 pm Depart Shanghai (PVG)

Arrive San Francisco (SFO) 8:53 am (next day)

Duration: 10hr 47mn

Check-in

According to the PVG (Pudong Airport Policy), the international check-in opens 2 hours before the flight (that is 10:45 AM), and closes 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time (that is 12:00)

According to my experience, before 10:45 AM, many people already lined up at the check-in counter, with big baggages. The line should already wind around the counter, with at least 100+ people. Most of the passengers are either first time visitors (like parents visiting children in U.S.) or returning residence with big luggage.

If you are the first time visitor, I suggest you to get to the airport as early as possible. The excitement of travel well compensate the 1 hour of waiting. If you arrive on time, you will be surprised, and worried whether you will be late to your flight (actually, you will never be late…)

If you have visited many times, and just have a small bag with you, you can go there as late as 11:30 AM, when the line is short, and all the other passengers completed their checkin process.

The custom inspection may take time too. Pudong Airport has already been a busy port. The 10 – 20 inspection counter still cannot handle the passengers in rush hours.

Seat

If you go earlier enough or you call United Airlines one day before, you can choose your seat. I would recommend you to take a window seat, since the scene outside flight window attracts me most.

UA858 is a Boeing 747-400 plane. If you can, choose the seat numbered with A, like 41A, 42A… Never choose row 32 to 40 – they are just above the wings of the aircraft, and you can see almost nothing. 46A to 46K have extra spaces (they are the emergency exit). The view is bad, but you can relax your legs.

The reason I suggests the left side window against the right side is, you will be able to see Mount Fujisan in Japan (35.36 N 138.73 E) within one hour. There are a lot of mountains and ports to see when the flight is about Japan.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang, Nov 10, 2002

UA858 does not stop at NRT (Tokyo Narita Airport), but it flys by.

What to Do on the Flight

The flight is long, but it is still OK – just 10 hours and 47 minute. The flight sometimes arrives several minutes to 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.

I suggest you after the flight leaves Japan, try to fall asleep ASAP. Scene outside window will be completely the same – the pacific ocean, clouds or darkness. You won’t miss anything. Don’t watch the on-flight movie, or browse on-flight magazine for too long. You will experience serious jet lag in SFO if you don’t sleep well. The eyes cover helps me a lot.

The screen will help you to figure out where you are

At around morning the next day (or the same day according to your calendar), you will arrive at San Francisco Airport

UA858

Here are some reports I accumulated in the previous years of travelling between SFO and PVG.

UA858 PVG – SFO

UA858 Photo Galary

SFO – San Francisco Airport

When UA858 arrives, there are English, Chinese and Japanese language welcoming you, and it is easy to get to the lugage claim area, like this:

From Shanghai to US – A Handbook

I am writing this short guide to friends who are going to U.S. for the first time. What I did in the last few years is a little bit different. I used to introduce Shanghai to first time visitors from foreign countries. To be honest, most of the articles answer questions I received from email, from my foriegn friends. For other topics, I just imagine what people may encounter, since I don’t have first hand experience about how the life of a foreigner looks like. What a pitty. For example, I totally have no idea about hotel information since I never stayed in any hotel in Shanghai.

For this short guide, it is more practical. They are problems I encountered myself and the solution I found out. (So don’t expect it to be the most accurate and perfect solution).

I am going to complete it in the next three months, with 5 to 10 articles. This is not my style though. I was not good at planning, or strategy in business term. I am practicing now. :-)

Here are the table of content.

  1. U.S. Visa Application (suggested by DC)
  2. Flight from Shanghai to U.S.
  3. What to Bring with You.
  4. The Airports (both in Shanghai and in San Francisco).
  5. Transportation without Renting cars.
  6. Renting a Car in U.S. with Chinese Driver’s License
  7. What to Buy, Where to Buy and What to Bring Back to China
  8. Food (suggested by Carroll)

The …’s are place holders. Let me know what questions you have. I won’t have complete answer to everything, just my very limited travel experience (6 times?) to the west coast of U.S.

Many topics were covered before. If so, I directly link to that entry. If I don’t have it already, I write it later.

A Chinese Blogger in America

I was called a Chinese Blogger in America. :-D The third installment of my audio blog in America was on air at KQED and other radio stations in U.S. Click the audio archive and click the a Chinese blogger in America (Part 3) to listen.

BTW, I have started to write on my Chinese blog. I suggested Christina not to write on two blogs, since I rarely see someone who successfully manage more than one blog. There will be a strong preference from the blogger about which one to post. Examples: Jian Shuo Wang (blog I, II), Eric (blog I, II), Isaac (blog I, II). Recently, when I read books on philosophy , art and traditional Chinese culture, it is not easy for me to translate it into English. So..

Things to Prepare for Visiting U.S.

For people to visit U.S. from China, I guess the following items are necessary to survive. I am trying to keep this list as short as possible and only list the most important stuff. I will ignore obvious things like cloth and passport… This list applies to those who travel from U.S. or Europe to China as well since the difference is in two directions.

Travel Plug Converter

Not only the voltage differs between China (220 Volt) and U.S.(110 Volt). So do the shapes of the outlets. Most electronics we carry outside the country were designed to tolerate wide range of electric voltage, such as laptop (at least my Dell laptop) and mobile phone/digital camera recharge, but the shape of the plugs and the outlet may not be compatible. This is the model I brought with me to U.S.

screen-outlet-converter.jpg

Image credit: Planet3000

The plug of my laptop is for use in China only with the shape of this:

  |

\ /

Although I don’t need a voltage converter, I still need this otherwise my plug cannot connect with the outlet. This is also the first time in my last four U.S. visit that I prepared this in advance. In the first three trips, I always need to spend 1 or 2 days looking for this small, cheap but important stuff.

People in U.S. traveling to China may also consider this issue.

Calling Card or Mobile Phone

It is critical to have a calling card or mobile phone with you when traveling in U.S. To use the coin to call back home is just too expensive and inconvenient.

I brought my mobile with me and it worked very well. The Dopod 515 with me. It is a tri-band mobile. China is using band 900/1800 MHz while U.S. is using 1900 MHz. After I arrived in U.S., I changed the setting to 1900 MHz (note: it will not change automatically) and then I was using wireless service provided by local providers. I have experienced Cingular, AT&T and T-Mobile during my stay. I didn’t use the phone though, but to some device with you that you can turn to during emergency gave me a sense of security in foreign land.

seattle-cingular-provider.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang. Cingular on my mobile

Be sure to call 1860 to open international roaming service first. It is free.

English Translation of Driver’s License

Although not required, it is much more convenient to have an English copy of your Chinese driver’s license if you plan to drive. I translated it myself and print it out with a normal printer. It helped because there is no English on the license.

Credit Card

This needs special note that not all cards issued in China can be used online or aboard, even it has a Visa or Master logo. My China Merchant Bank International Credit Card worked great. Now the good thing is, I can pay with credit card with USD and deposit Chinese Yuan to keep the balance. I didn’t exchange US dollars for this trip. Before, when USD was hot, people always take the chance to exchange as much U.S. dollars as possible (2000 USD limit) because it is the only chance to exchange U.S dollars by Chinese Yuan.

More…

If possible, instant noodle may be a good choice just in case. I regret that I didn’t bring some when there is nothing to eat at deep nights. We have rushed from the White House area in Washington, D.C. to China town (via metro) and bought instant noodle in 24-hour CVS there and brought it back to hotel at around 12:00 in mid-night. All restaurants were closed, according to the hotel receiption. We didn’t expect this and assumed restaurants open till deep night.

Is there more stuff people needs to go to US? Please suggest.

I Got my U.S. Visa

I went to American Consulate for Visa interview and (I hate it) leave my fingerprint there. I waited four hours to get my visa, among which, one hour was spent outside the building, in the cold winter wind. I arrived at the gate of the Westgate Building, 1038 Nanjing West Road at around 1:00 PM, waited there in a long line (about 100 people) for one hour. The afternoon session mainly opens to American Chamber of Commerce Corporate Member employees. The morning session is opened for general public. I guess their situation should be much worse. Behind me are employees from Dell, Coca-cola, IBM and Intel…..

The security check for entering the visa section was strict. Mobile phones, electronic devices, bags are all not allowed. I don’t think anybody in the line came without a mobile. I paid 10 RMB to have mine deposited. It seems the American Consulate is an aircraft, floating on the 8th floor of the building.

The visa applicants scheduled for the morning have not been interviewed yet so it is crowded inside the room. I read through all the magazines in the room and learnt some new ideas – it is said pets can help to improve people’s family relationship, health…. After I read everything, I heard my named called in the speaker. It was already 4:30 PM – 3 hours and a half after I got there. Within the three and a half hours, the sentence I heard most frequently was “I am sorry, but according to American laws, I cannot grant you a visa…..” followed by the angry argument and, sometimes, the sound of falling curtain before the applicants.

The lives for employees of AmChamber are much easier. I heard that after 911, visa rejection rate is too high and broke the business of American companies. The American Chamber of Commerce complained seriously so the American Chamber of Commerce Cooperate Business Visa Program emerged. By this program, it is quicker to get visa.

This service, designed in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, allows qualified member companies of AmCham-China to quickly and conveniently apply for U.S. visas for their Chinese staff and business associates.

I handed in my application on Nov 10 and got the appointment today (one week). For others, it may take up to 2 months for the appointment.

In contrast with the interview process for other applicants, the questions and answers for my interview were concise and quick:

    “Mr. Wang, is this your passport?”

    “Yes.”

    “Would you please put your left index finger on the sensor flat?”

    I did.

    “Very well! For the right finger, do the same”.

    I did.

    “Good. So you work for Microsoft?”

    “Yes, I do.”

    “Did they give you stock?”

    “Yes.”

    “Please take your receipt and go to window No. 11 for your visa. Have a good trip!”

    “Thanks.”

That’s it.

U.S. Paused All Visa Application in China

My friend is in bad mood these days. His visa application to U.S. was rejected so he cannot attend TechEd 2004 in San Diego. This is the second time he missed the chance due to Visa problems.

Visa is one of the biggest barriers for people to go out of the country. I heard it is due to SARS, but it is not confirmed. There is no report on this on major international media, but many of them reported “Illegal US visa call centre closed“.

Maybe due to security concerns, the United States Consulate in Shanghai has replaced the tall gate with tall walls at the interaction of Huai Hai Rd. and Wulumuqi Rd. Now there is only a small gate at Wulumuqi Rd. now.

Applying a U.S. Visia

10:57

This is the third time I apply for a U.S. Visa. As always, I need to fillin the lengthy application forms and hand in the money.

The interesting thing is, today, Oct 31, 2002, is the last day before the U.S. non-immigrant visa rises from $65 to $100. Many media has reported this raise in fee. You can read about it here and there. I am just wondering why the search result in Google News implies that Asia media are more interested in this event. You can see South Korea, Malaysia and India are the majority in the list for the first page.

I don’t care too much on the price upgrade. I followed the routine to complete form DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application form and DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application. I found there is some slight change in the form from the form I got in early 2001. I looked carefully and found the two forms are tagged as 08-2001 and 01-2002 respectively. It seems true the procedure changed a little bit. Maybe it is part of the reasons why Malaysia’s Foreign Minister commented on the price change:

We have to accept the decision of the US government. They have increased their spending on surveillance and training their personnel for security purposes. Definitely it will involve a lot of money

Source: TheStar.com

Later, I realized the difference is caused by the replacement. I was fill form OF-156 one year before and now DS-156 completely replaced the old one. The changes are still kept minor so I can hardly feel the change.

Because of the “minor change”, I made a stupid mistake and I hope you will not. The original OF-156 form has both English and Native Language version (Chinese version for me) and the Chinese version is only for reference propose. For DS-156, the translation is removed and we need to fill in both the English and Chinese form. This caused my application rejected once and I need to complete the Chinese one and sent it in again..

I am going to send the application to U.S Embassy tomorrow and check how long it will take before I can get a B1 visa. According to this site, visa process may be delayed for some time after Sept 11.