All of us like things to be simple when we travel, but Chinese citizens normally need to spend months preparing lots of documents and doing some serious leg-work in terms of organizing their paperwork ahead of their overseas holidays. Now here is the good news: China is trying to make its passport more valuable and to reach an agreement for visa-free travel with many other countries.
"China hopes to sign mutual agreements with as many countries as possible, which will allow Chinese nationals holding Chinese passports to enjoy quicker and more convenient overseas travel," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to France in October last year.
"Visas are the key issue to the development of Chinese tourism," says Xia Lingen, professor of Fudan University, who specializes in the tourism industry. "Cumbersome visa procedures result in many Chinese would-be travelers looking elsewhere."
Traveler says visa interview is harder than job interview
"This is my second time here." Wang Hua gave a forced smile outside the visa application center of the American consulate-general in Shanghai. It was her first attempt to travel overseas, to visit her aunt in Los Angles. "I forgot to prepare some documents required for the application because I didn't know the procedures." Wang opened her briefcase to show her passport, application form, property certificate, travel plan statement, ID card, personal resume, and other necessary documents.
"I booked an interview one month in advance," added Wang. "I arrived for my interview 30 minutes early because I knew I would have to queue for a while. Also my English is not particularly good, so I wanted to make a good impression to get a good interview score. I felt more nervous in the visa interview than during my job interview."
"The success rate for American visa applications is over 90% in recent years," says Gu Xiaolong, visa case officer of the American general consulate in Shanghai. "American visa application centers in China process 1.5 million visas a year for Chinese citizens. With increasing numbers of Chinese travelers, we have expanded our offices and simplified the visa procedures, removed the booking fee, and shortened the visa processing lead time to 10 working days. My view is that if the applicant is honest and well prepared they will secure their visa without difficulties."