The Chinese put up with a lot living in the world's most populous country: standing on over-crowded trains for 40 hours; sleeping outside hospitals to secure a doctor's appointment; waiting more than a year to earn a driver's license.
Add getting a U.S. entry visa to the list.
Applicants here have waited as long as 60 days to secure an appointment at one of five U.S. consular locations in Chinathat process visas. There, they're often greeted by long lines, followed by a face-to-face interview that can end badly in a matter of seconds.
"I wish there was a way to improve the system," said an aircraft parts manufacturer from central China who said his business deal in the U.S. was delayed for two months as he and four co-workers waited on their visas. "It would benefit both countries," said the man, who gave only his last name, Ren. "Right now it's very aggravating."
For the most part, U.S. officials agree. Recognizing the potential boost to American businesses, the newly installed U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, has pledged to make reducing wait times a priority.
"We know that if we want to strengthen our commercial relationship with China and create jobs in America that we need to make it easier for Chinese businesspeople and tourists to travel to the United States," Locke said in a speech last month in Beijing.
Tougher visa procedures since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have cost the U.S. an estimated $606 billion in spending from visitors from China and elsewhere, according to the U.S. Travel Assn. Had growth in international travel to the U.S. kept pace with the rest of the world over that period, the country would have received 78 million additional visitors, the group said.
The pain isn't being felt only by airlines and hotels, but by department stores, restaurants and outlet malls that would have gladly welcomed foreign spenders. A bipartisan bill being proposed in Washington would provide more resources to consulates around the world to cut wait times to just under two weeks.
Though Brazilian demand for U.S. visas is growing at a faster rate, China's sheer size poses a unique set of challenges for America's consular corps. The embassy and consulates in China are processing twice as many non-immigrant visas than they were only three years ago — recently hitting the 1-million yearly mark for the first time, a number that had previously been reached only in Mexico.
Yet there are only about 100 visa adjudicators in China, creating a crushing backlog during the summer when tourists and students travel the most.
"It's not easy work," Charles Bennett, minister-counselor for Consular Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said of his staff. "You're making, in some cases, life-changing decisions many times a day, and that can cause fatigue."
To adapt, U.S. consular services expanded their hours, took on about a dozen additional staff and hope to have another 20 officers by spring. Several facilities are also being expanded.
2011-12-16 14:24 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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