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March 4, 2014

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US consular section gears up for visa demand

THE United States Consulate General in Shanghai yesterday opened a new consular section to meet growing demand for visa services.

The extended facility has 28 service windows, up from 12, to boost its application processing capacity by about 50 percent to 600,000 per year, officials said.

Yesterday’s opening ceremony began with a 30-second silence to commemorate the victims of Saturday’s terrorist attack in Kunming.

The new consular section, which provides visa services to people from Shanghai and the neighboring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, is the seventh-largest of its kind in the world, an official said.

A total of 14 percent of the visa applications for entering the US were processed in China, second only to Mexico, said Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management of the US Department of State.

In order to meet the high demand, the US has increased its consular adjudicator staffing by 50 percent across China, with Shanghai now having about 30 US visa officers, he said, adding that a new US consulate general in Shanghai is under discussion.

Since March 2013, applicants have been required to pay only a visa processing fee of US$160 for most non-immigrant visa types, after charges for making appointments and delivery of passports were withdrawn.


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