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Getting a VISA to China was an incredible hassle and expense!

Getting a VISA to China was an incredible hassle and expense!

Old May 5th, 2010, 05:20 AM
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Getting a VISA to China was an incredible hassle and expense!

Travel to 90% of the world's countries is so easy. You just need a passport and when you arrive they just stamp in and you are done. China on the other hand requires a special VISA that cost us $130 a piece and lots of time off of work and tons of patience.

Living in the DC area has its advantages because the Chinese Embassy is only a few miles from work. I took the bus to the embassy in North Georgetown in early afternoon and found a line out the door. I entered a 1960s era facility that reminded me of going to the DMV to get a drivers license. I had to go through security and get a number. My number was 150 digits below what was currently being called. So I waited and waited and waited. 90% of the people in the building looked to be from China, I assume recent immigrants. It seemed like everyone who was being called had a special issue when they came up to the counter and stood there for at least 30 minutes. Finally, three hours after I arrived my number was called. The lady told me that I had to return the next week to pick up my passport and visa and pay the fee. So next week I returned to find even longer lines. This time it took a little less time because I stood in two different lines.

All in all a major pain and expense. It better be worth it. We are leaving for China next month!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 05:32 AM
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You are lucky that when you returned they did not ask for some other document or alteration to wording on your form and make you come back 2-3 times.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 05:58 AM
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This is one reason people should consider using a "service". I mailed my passport off with an additional fee...I think $45 and it was back in my mailbox (with visa) in 10 days. I grumbled about paying the service agency fee, but after reading your entry, I realized it was worth every penny!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 06:05 AM
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The reason for your visa experience is reciprocity. The US charges intending visitors (other than those from countries in the visa waiver scheme) the same fee. Plus, they require candidates to show up in person, even if they live hundreds of miles from the nearest embassy - at least you could have used a visa service.

If you want cheaper visas (China isn't the only country to charge high fees to US citizens and not to others) I suggest you lobby your representatives for better treatment for intending visitors - the US tourist industry would no doubt thank you as well.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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I understand why America requires a Visa for most of the world to come here. If we let any third world traveler come to America with just a Passport we would have 100 million illegal Aliens in America, not 20 million.

But there are many developing countries that allow Americans to visit without applying for an expensive Visa in advance. For example most countries in Latin America. Americans can visit them without a Visa but their citizens need one to come here. If Mexico decided that any American who wanted to visit their country would have to pay a $130 fee what would happen to tourism?
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Old May 5th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Have you gone to Brazil lately? The visa fee is indeed 0. However there is a "Reciprocity fee" of $130 plus a $20 fee for visa handling.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:03 AM
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Also (Argentina):

Reciprocity fees
As of December 2009, travellers from the USA, Canada and Australia entering the country via Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires are required to pay a fee.

Citizens from the USA: USD$131
Canadians: USD$70*
Australians: USD$100

*while the fee paid by US citizens and Australians allows for multiple entries for the life of their passport, the fee for Canadians is just for single entry.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:12 AM
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I'm not suggesting that the US shouldn't require visas. I am suggesting that $131 and an in-person visit to the embassy is unusual and unnecessarily onerous (as you discovered). Plus, the harder it is for people to come legally, the more likely they are to come illegally. (And to stay illegally - just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with the US immigration people.)
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:10 PM
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My experience at the NYC PRC consulate was very different. Both to drop off my passport and to retrieve it, with the visa added, took a total of about 10 minutes. That included the security check at the entrance.

I am not sure that Americans can visit "90%" of the world's nations without a visa. My passport is so full of visas that I had to have extra pages added.

If you think that you had a hassle at the embassy, maybe you should think twice about going because travel in China is hardly hassle free!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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I also question your idea that Americans can visit 90% of the world without a visa. Like eks, my passport is full of visas. Indeed, I get a passport with extra pages each time I renew and I pretty much fill the long passport in 10 years.

You can visit Canada, Mexico and Europe without visas, but there is a lot of the rest of the world.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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Well, let's see... Around 200 countries. 10% of that would mean only 20 countries required visas for US citizens. Sorry, totally don't buy that.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Maybe the OP has never had the experience of obtaining a visa--but then, I would have thought that a "world traveler" would be accustomed to this process.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Countries requiring visas for U.S. citizens
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verdi, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (Business)(Tourist) , Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyz Republic, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea,Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad, Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zaire & Zambia
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:21 PM
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Not sure where you got that Marija, but it's out of date. Don't know about the other countries, but I did know about Moldova:

"Starting the 1st of January 2007 the visa regime for the citizens of the member states of the European Union, United States of America, Canada, the Confederation and Japan is abolished.”

(From the Moldovan Embassy website, Washington.)
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:45 PM
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And I notice the list missed Cambodia. And it lists Thailand, which only requires a visa for more than 28 day stays. In any case, it appears that almost half of the 195 counties in the world require a visa for US visitors.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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ask your foreign friends about trying to get a usa visa....huge problems....and probably a WWI building to apply in...
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Old May 5th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Our secretary is from Malaysia. To attend her college graduation in the US, her mother, father , and brother each had to pay $130, travel to the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and wait in line about 6 hours.

A few years later they had to do it again, along with another $390, to come for her wedding. that's a LOT of money in a country like Malaysia.

My brother's wife is Indonesian.He's American, but they live in Queensland in Australia. For her to get a visa to come to the US, they had to go to Sydney Australia (a 2 hour flight), rent a hotel for three nights, and wait in lines over multiple days.
Not that China is known for friendly beaurocrats, but the fees are strictly tit for tat because of our fees.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 09:51 PM
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If you want to visit a country then you have to abide by what they determine their fees etc. to be or just don't go. If you can afford to visit China then you can afford the visa fee.
I just happened on this thread as I saw the header.
I just got back today from the Los Angeles visa office and spent two hours in line to drop off the forms and have to go back Monday to pick up passports.
BTW no security check at all. The visa office is separate from the embassy and just a walk-in from the street.
To be able to do that was preferable to me as opposed to mailing in passports which is mandatory for some countries' visas.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 03:53 AM
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An earlier poster listed a group of countries that requires a VISA to enter. The list was misleading because of their definition of what is a travel Visa and what it takes to get one. My complaint about the Chinese Visa system is it took so long to wait in line and I had to go to the Chinese Embassy twice to complete the process. Most countries that require Americans to get a Visa allow you to purchase it at the airport when you arrive. An expense but a very small hassle in comparison to my experience with China. Also many of the places on the list only required a VISA for long stays which is not going to happen to most American Travelers.

My original point still remains. It is a lot of hassle getting a Visa to go to China.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:28 AM
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Next time when you do your "world travel" take a look outside most US Embassies or Consulates. You will notice long lines of people applying for US visas. Some of them have to get up at 4.00 AM just to be in line by the time the visa section open. The hassle that people go through to get their Chinese visa pales in comparison to the trouble most people have of applying for US visas.
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