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GETTING A CHINESE VISA--PERFECTION REQUIRED

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I thought i would recount for you my experiences with getting a visa to visit china this fall. The purpose of this post is to save YOU time hopefully.

China is one of those countries which prefers that you use an agency to process your visa. I have used Travisa before so I chose them, and besides they have recently opened a small office in boston, thus allowing me not to ship our passports. Their fee for processing each passport is $60, so this fee plus the visa fee brings the cost per passport for a multi-entry 12 month visa to a whopping $205. each.

From the travisa website i found the NY visa office's application forms---4 pages. Be very careful to select the china visa office which services your home state as the forms vary. You are required to TYPE in CAPITAL letters your info onto the form. You must not leave any space blank, you must state "N/A" if you have no entry to make in that section--DO NOT LEAVE IT BLANK and do not use "NONE" as the instructions suggest as an alternative.

For your hotel listing, make sure you include the province where the hotel is, not just the city---I left the province out for Shanghai and my application was rejected... I guess they do not know where Shanghai is located.. Also you must include a copy of each hotel reservation, BUT it cannot be in an e-mail format--it must be in non-email format. BUT, BUT make sure that all names are listed on the reservation confirmation. In my case both my wife's name and my name must be listed on the res form. In one case we are sharing a suite in shanghai with our travelling companion, so all three of our names must appear on the res confirmation. The hotel can do this for you if you request it.

If you have been to china before, you must include a photocopy of your previous visas. If this was in a cancelled passpost, as was ours, you must include a copy showing the cancelled status of that passport.

DO YOU GET THE GIST THAT I FIND THIS CRAZY????

So our visa application package included the following for the 3 of us:

two copies of the 4 page visa application
1 recent passport sized picture for each of us
a copy of our cancelled passports showing the "cancelled" marks in which our previous visa was issued
a copy of our previous visa
a copy of each of our hotel reservation, in a non-email format, listing each person in each room
a 2 or 3 page travisa processing application on which you may use credit card info to pay for all of this---in our case $615. or you may include a check, non-personal i believe.
each of our passports with at least 6 months remaining in their life, and at least 2 full visa pages available (NY juristiction only) in original passport pages, not on add-in pages.

The rules are clearly spelled out on the visa instructions for you--READ THEM CAREFULLY!!!!!!

So with all of this in hand we headed to the travisa office 2 weeks ago. Karen went in and i double parked. Well they tore our applications apart...

I had some hand-written answers on the visa application---I had used the word "none" to answer a few questions. They used our friend's application to highlight things. so she lives in another state so we had to wait to have her new forms in hand before we could re-apply. In addition, I had failed to list the province for our two hotels, one in shanghai (shanghai is the name of the province btw) and the other is in Xian, so i had to find the province. PERSONALLY I WOULD THINK THESE ARE BOTH MAJOR TOURIST AREAS AND THUS WOULD BE WELL KNOWN TO THE VISA OFFICE, BUT NO--PLUS I HAD THE WRITTEN HOTEL CONFIRM WHICH INCLUDED THEIR FULL ADDRESS...
i ALSO HAD THE HOTEL CONFIRMS IN E-MAIL FORMAT WHICH WAS UNACCEPTABLE.

SO WE RETURNED HOME TO RE-DO EVERYTHING AND GET THINGS PICTURE PERFECT.

On our next foray into boston, we tried again. this time K doubleparked. Travisa liked my presentation, but questioned that all people's names were not on the hotel confirmations. They said it should be ok.

The next day I received an email from travisa saying the consulate had put my application on hold because of the hotel confirm names issue. Could i please get new confirms with all names listed on the forms. so I called marriott and easily received a new confirm, via e mail in an attachment, non e-mail form with all 3 of our names listed for our suite.

Starwoods (sheraton) proved to be much more difficult. It took me several phone calls, including 2 "patched" transfer calls to the hotel in Xian, to get this done.
In addition the res for our friend had been made in my name, not hers, which of course caused an additional problem. I had easily fixed that on my first call when they cancelled the original res and made a new one in her name--at a 200+ RBM lesser rate, which she was pleased with.

So our current status is that i have emailed the changes to travisa who will forward them to the consular section in NYC and our visas should be issued in 5-7 business days. i can then pick our passports up in boston--they can be mailed to you too.

my whole point in posting this is so you will not make silly assumptions or mistakes as i did. CHINA'S WHOLE PROCEDURE IS CRAZY AND THEY MEAN WHAT THEY SAY SO BE VERY CAREFUL IN YOUR PREP. Thank god i used travisa or i might have even lost my funds when the paperwork was rejected the first time. So the $60 fee is worth it i guess--or in our case $180...

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