UPDATED: Tips, Advice for Getting Chinese VISA

UPDATE: As of January 2011, the following was not my experience at all. My last visa took me a total of 15 minutes at the consulate in San Francisco.

Today, after waiting 3.5 hours in line at the San Francisco Chinese Consulate, I thought for sure I’d get my brother a VISA for our upcoming trip.

I brought his passport, a photo, a copy of his flight reservation, and the VISA application.Apparently, China tightened down on the rules. That’s an understatement.

I was told (in Chinese, btw) that I needed his birth certificate, the hotel he is staying at, and a written letter explaining his relationship to every that he will encounter in China. Allow me to focus on one part of that. We own two houses in China, so when I told them that there is no need for a hotel, she said, “Lemme see your house deed.”

ME: “Can I fax it?”

HER: “No.”

ME: “Can I call a hotel now and make a reser–”

HER: “No. Step aside, too many people!”

So. Just thought I’d write a little “what to expect” at the Consulate. Not to mention that this is my seventh time going to China, and all other times I barely filled out the form with no questions asked. Oh, and the fee for a VISA is now $160 USD (used to be $40 a few years ago.)

Chinese Consulate Embassy Visa Form

In short — everything on the VISA form will be scrutinized, so make sure it is all accurate and bring more information than you think you need.

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