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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

US vows to speed up visa application process

By Todd Balazovic (China Daily)

08:54, December 02, 2011

BEIJING - Chinese citizens applying for US visas will face shorter wait times in the future as the US embassy vowed to speed up the visa application process.

The pledge comes amid an online campaign to stop the use of a call center which charges premium per-minute rates when setting up visa screening interview appointments.

More than 8,700 people in the United States have signed an online petition calling for an end to the 70 US cents a minute charge when making an interview appointment, required as part of the visa process.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Charles Bennett, minister counselor for consular affairs at the US embassy in Beijing, said the US was planning a new system that would make the interview scheduling process as easy as "booking an airplane ticket" online.

"Our call center has done very good work for us for many years, but I think we could do better," he said.

It's one of many measures the US is taking in an effort to open its doors to Chinese citizens and investors.

Several steps, such as reducing the interview-screening process, building a new consulate in Guangzhou and expanding current offices, are being taken to ease the entry process for Chinese visitors.

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