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February 4, 2010

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US consulate says 200,000 to apply for visas

MORE city residents will be applying for visas to the United States this year, the US Consulate General in Shanghai said yesterday.

About 200,000 people are expected to submit non-immigrant applications, 11.11 percent more than last year's 180,000.

"Despite the economic downturn and the swine flu last year we still see evidence of steady application growth," said Charles Jess, a consul based in Shanghai.

He said about 90 percent of city applicants were granted visas last year, the highest rate in China.

Applicants for non-immigrant visas to the US will have to follow a new system from March 1 when they should submit online applications instead of paper ones.

The switch to the Online Form DS-160 electronic system is aimed to be faster, more efficient and better for the environment.

"It will be easier for the applicants and faster for us," said Jon Huntsman, US Ambassador to China.

The online form can save about 15 minutes in waiting time for applicants and the paperless system can save up to 3 million pieces of paper in China in a year, Huntsman said.

"It sounds convenient to me," said Zhou Chenxi, 23, who intends to go to the US for further study.


The new system will be for all non-immigrant visa applicants except fiance/fiancee visas and Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa applications.

Applicants can view the questions in Chinese but have to answer the questions in English.

The change will also affect the interview process as more emphasis will be laid on interaction between applicants and consulate officials, Jess said. The officials previously would spend a lot of time reading the paper applications.

Applicants can access the DS-160 form at the Consular Electronic Application Center Website -


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