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Apply US visa in Shanghai

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The saga of applying the US visa. Warning: for entertainment purpose only. I am not providing any advice for visa application.

Last Friday I went to the US consulate Shanghai for the worker visa, with my wife applying H-4. Ten years have passed since I first applied the student visa. A lot things have changed: namely Internet and call center. These technologies have been integrated into the visa application process, such as the calling card (issued by China Citic Bank) and the appointment system. Here is how it works: the applicant buys the calling card from the bank, call the 400 number (like 800 # in the US), talk to the representative and schedule the appointment. We got our appointment that way. But when we reached the West Nanjing Rd. at 12:45 PM, wait for our 1:15 PM appointment, we found a long line already being formed. Later we learned the appointment system is used for the consulate to estimate how many people will show up, in reality the applicants still show up in early morning or afternoon, waiting the line. Because most everyone (except me, and few others) is so eager to visit US 🙂

So there is slight improvement. Because in the past (I mean 10 years ago), an applicant can wait all day without being interviewed by the officer because of the time limit. He/she has to come back the next day.

Once entering the consulate, there are lots of people. Usually there are three steps: check material by the clerks; interview; submit the address stub (to mail back the passport). As usual, there are lots of gossip regarding who got visa, who did not. In the middle of this, I saw an American guy, who is the founder of NingboGuide.com, walked into the visa section. Obviously the guy in charge of the order of the visa section is not happy about this, so he asked his supervisor (who looks like a Filipino or Indian) to help. Finally the supervisor persuade the American guy to stay inside the American citizen’s section. We also saw lots of kids (high school students; college kids) applying the visa. I heard the US will open tourist visa to Chinese citizens in the near future. Don’t know if it’s true or not. I know US hotels and resorts will be very happy if this is true.

You may wonder what happened to our visas. Well, after waiting almost 3 hours, we got 2 or 3 minutes facing time with the officer. The officer says I need to send more material. So I’m still waiting now.

Two tips: don’t bring bags to US consulate as they won’t let you carry the bag in, and you will have to store the bag somewhere else, a lot hassle; there is a book under the LCD TV screen where you can look for the telegraph code for your Chinese name, yes 10 years have passed that stupid requirement is still there.

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