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July 24, 2012

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US visa renewals may take longer

LOCAL United States visa applicants may need more time to renew their visas because the US Consulate in Shanghai has moved the renewal processing to the southern city of Guangzhou to use space and staffing there, the consulate said yesterday.

All qualified visa renewal applications in Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces will be processed by the Guangzhou Visa Renewal Processing Center, the consulate said.

"Applicants who qualify for drop box renewal can expect processing times of approximately 14 days," Wylita Bell, information officer of the consulate, told Shanghai Daily.

The consulate reminded applicants they must choose Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, as the processing post when filing out the DS-160 form.

"Shanghai's office space is limited right now so we are processing drop box cases in Guangzhou, because they have more available space than we do right now," said Bell.

Currently, the US Consulate in Shanghai receives about 2,000 applications every day. During the summer, those numbers usually increase.

The officer said the consulate is planning on expanding its space within the next year.

"The change causes some inconveniences because it takes a longer time and I have to prepare some more materials," said Mary Liu, who studies in a US university and went to renew her visa yesterday.

Liu said she was told it might take three weeks to renew the visa, which took only about 10 days previously.

"I have to abandon a plan to travel abroad with my parents before the summer vacation ends to wait for the visa processes," she said.

The requirements of the consulate in Guangzhou are stricter than that of Shanghai, so applicants may need to prepare more materials, according to a staffer with the CITIC Bank who does the drop box service for the consulate in Shanghai.

Tourists, business travelers, students, exchange visitors and journalists in China whose previous visa has expired within four years needn't appear for an interview to receive visas of the same types.

Instead, they can submit their application via the drop box renewal service, according to a new policy in February.

However, applicants might be required to be interviewed at the consulate in Shanghai if additional information is needed, the consulate said.


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