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.