Last-minute Chinese visa
May 16, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I have a U.S. passport. Same-day and rush processing for Chinese visas in the U.S. has been suspended as of 4 May 2009, likely because of swine flu fears, leaving everyone with a 6-business-day wait. But I leave sooner than that.

I've called a few visa expediting agencies, and while most of them say that rush processing is impossible, a few say that it's still possible, given emergency circumstances. I e-mailed the consulate, who replied, "If you show us a proof which you need an urgent trip to china ,we still offer rush service."

I'd like to ask the consulate to clarify, but there's only two business days remaining until I leave. Their phone lines are open only an hour a day, so it can be hard to get through, and they take a while to respond to e-mails. It's a four-hour drive to the consulate itself.

I don't actually have an emergency I need to attend to in China, but my flight leaves the the U.S. next Wednesday. Would my imminent departure be considered an emergency in itself?
posted by SpringAquifer to Travel & Transportation around China (3 answers total)
And there are rumblings of an increasing anger at the US for not controlling its population while swine flu is still around. From that link, it sounds like business meetings and conferences are being canceled due to inability to get visas. Your flight would not likely be considered emergency enough to get rush processing. And I wouldn't be surprised if there's another quarantine incident like what happened with the students from Montreal. Perhaps you could reroute your flight to Hong Kong and spend a few days there while waiting for a visa?
posted by msbrauer at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2009

Assuming you are in the same city as the consulate it may be possible although the odds are stacked against you. If you have to Fed Ex your passport, then you are most likely SOL. The best you can do with a health outbreak is to get a certified test from a doctor proving you are clean.

In your position, I'd call the airline and reschedule to a later flight. Hopefully you have a decent airline that will let you do that without too much additional cost. Generally, you should get a foreign visa at least a month ahead of time.
posted by JJ86 at 3:56 PM on May 16, 2009

Best answer: I went through the exact same situation last week. Here's what worked for me:

- Completed the form for the visa application.
- Got a doctor to conduct a physical and complete this form, add a statement declaring that I show no indication of being infected or exposed to swine flu, with official stamp.
- Wrote a letter stating the date that I am leaving, and "I am aware and consent to possibly being detained and quarantined upon arrival in China." (ya, kinda scary.) I didn't have to write the reason why I was traveling to China, but YMMV.
- Got up early to be at the consulate before it opened, stood in a line of 40 people, and after 2 hours, walked away with my passport and visa in hand.

Note, you'll need your passport, a photo for the doctor's declaration, as well as the visa application, so make sure you include at least 2 of those passport-style photos in your package. You can find some information about what they require here. Not sure where you're located, but these docs are for the SF Consulate, so check your consulate website. I really had to learn the hard way - this information wasn't posted online when I originally submitted my request and it was a mad scramble to get everything done. So be aware that you may still run the risk of having your visa request rejected if they make an additional new requirement.

A final note - I seriously recommend going early. When I left the consulate at 11AM, the line grew to over 75 people. The courier who had made unsuccessful attempts to submit my visa application the day before had said the line at 1:00 (after the consulate's mandatory lunch break) was over 175 people long. They will also likely take your temperature at the door. Good luck!
posted by hampanda at 10:21 PM on May 16, 2009

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