In case you missed it…
This post should have been written two months ago when I went through the process of getting a visa, but being slightly paranoid, I wanted to wait until my Asia trip was said and done.
Americans traveling to China have to apply for a visa with the Chinese consulate, which can be a grueling process and costs $140. At best, it’s at least half a day of standing on line at the Chinese consulate and hoping for the best. At worst…well, you’ll see.
Instead of spending a day at the consulate, I decided to use a well-reviewed visa service, Allied Passport and Visa. I dropped off my application and passport at Allied’s DC office, and a nice guy named Steve assured me that I’d get my visa in a couple of days. The next day, Steve emailed me, informing me that the Chinese consulate would like more information.
Once the Chinese realized I work in politics (the application asked for my employer), they wanted to make sure my trip was purely for pleasure and not for business. Apparently, they thought I might foment a political coup on my vacation.
At the consulate’s instruction, I wrote a short letter avowing my intention to visit China as a tourist and sent the letter to Steve.
The next day, I received another email from Steve. The consulate requested more information — three new items to be specific. I sent a letter written and signed by my boss on company stationary affirming that I will not be doing any business in China; a detailed 591-word letter detailing every step of my itinerary; and copies of my hotel reservations. And I shipped them all off to Steve and hoped for the best.
Two days later, Steve called with the good news: The Chinese consulate accepted my application. I thanked Steve profusely. Going through this process by myself would have been a nightmare. Allied Passport and Visa were an immense help, and I highly recommend their service.