US relaxes visa policy for Chinese

The US visa fee will be set at US$160
The US visa fee will be set at US$160

The US will soon commence a new visa application process for Chinese citizens, aimed at streamlining procedures and reducing costs.

From 16 March 2013, the revised policy for non-immigrant visa applicants from mainland China will charge a set processing fee of US$160, with no additional charges for changing interview times or return applicants’ passports. The application process time will also be capped at three weeks, and the US embassy in Beijing will offer a hotline to make appointments or answer questions.

The latest range of measures was unveiled late last week by the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke.

“Visas are government tools to ensure safe and orderly international travel. And what makes our work worthwhile is the deep and meaningful relationship between our two great peoples,” Locke was quoted saying by China’s state-run newspaper, People’s Daily. “It brings American and Chinese culture together and builds bridges of understanding between us.”

In a drive towards we-based services, the US will enable Chinese applicants to conduct visa interviews online, as well as making online payments using a Chinese debit card or international credit card. Processing fees can also now be paid at any China Citic Bank ATM.

According to statistics from the US Department of Commerce, reported by People’s Daily, more than 650,000 Chinese tourists visited the US in the first half of 2012, marking a year-on-year increase of 46%. In 2012, the US Embassy in China processed more than 1.34 million non-immigrant visa applications, a 26% increase compared to 2011.
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