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 expires the day before yesterday. To make sure I can travel to the States at any time, I decided to extend it.
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.
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.
Can you not get a multiple entry US visa for a 10 year period?
All I got was one year multi-entry.
You would be able to get a multi-year visa to the US if the Chinese government would give Americans and other foreigners tourist visas that were valid for longer than 6 months. Countries normally give each others citizens visas based on reciprocity. The US has been trying for years to get China to give American tourists and businesspeople visas that would be good for longer than 6 months – but China refuses. Normally, the US would also limit your visa to 6 months but they went ahead and gave Chinese a year visa. The US wants to give 5-10 year visas to Chinese citizens that qualify for visas because they figure if you qualify once – then you qualify. So you can thank Beijing for having to go back every year.
@Jay, I believe what you said is true. China now has the policy to allow people get into the city, but with restrictions.
not sure about the China visa policy. And why tourist visa is related to working/business visa.
i think my manager get his one year working visa from China government easily.
A visit to the consulate is a lot better if you’re a US citizen, but still no fun at all. It’s really “fortress America,” and reminds me exactly of all the things I don’t miss about the U.S.
I have a one-year visa as well, but that’s because I work for a company incorporated in China, i.e. a local company. I think it’s different if you’re in the U.S. working for a U.S. company and want a visa.
Jianshuo, your experience only shows that it’s easier for a Chinese citizen to go to the US than to Hong Kong if they’ve already got a visa. If it’s a first-time applicant it’s not the case at all. A friend of mine recently applied for a visa to go to the US for the first time on a business trip and was told that the earliest possible time for an interview was over a month (although he later did get an earlier one.) It’s incredible to me that you need an interview to get a visa for a business trip.