19 January 2011

US Embassy in China seeks to streamline US Visa process

The number of mainland Chinese tourists to the US numbered more than 1 million in the first 11 months of last year, and there are high expectations that this number will be exceeded in 2010.

US Visa

The US Embassy in China is looking at ways to streamline US Visa applications.

Jiang Yiyi, director of the International Tourism Development Institute at the China Tourism Academy said the US is currently the fourth most popular foreign country for mainland tourists, thanks to the Approved Destination Status agreement signed between the two countries in late 2007.

"We estimate the number of US-bound tourists will exceed 1.2 million in 2010, with an annual growth rate of about 30 percent," said Jiang Yiyi.
The Approved Destination Status agreement allows US destinations to market their tourism products in China and for Chinese citizens to take group travel to the US for tourism reasons. The destination also authorizes Chinese travel agencies to market and promote leisure group tours in the US.

The traditional travel routes for Chinese visitors to the US include trips to East and West Coast states and the offshore state of Hawaii, although more diversified tours are emerging including shopping spree tours or tours connected with special events, such as Chinese New Year or NBA games.

Despite the loosened US Visa restrictions for mainland visitors, Chinese travel agencies have called for a simplified visa process and a larger quota in order to match the growing demand of Chinese travellers.

In response, the US Embassy in Shanghai set up a pilot project for group visa interviews at the end of last year – a move that will shorten US Visa application times.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their  ESTA to the US Embassy.

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