Chinese visa

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We want to take a cruise that visits China. Can anyone recommend a visa agency through which we could obtain a visa without a personal appearance at the visa office? We live in Texas if that makes any difference?

I would recommend at 1301 20th St. NW, Suite 113, Washington, DC 20036, which was the visa service agency that was recommended by the tour company Distant Horizons for a China tour that I took with them last October. This visa service agency is also recommended by Adventures Abroad. Although I visited them in person because I needed my visa on a super rush basis (it was only 4 business days before my departure date), you can definitely do business with them from a distance, which is what they prefer anyway. Their phone number is 202-785-3250. They are highly efficient. I applied in person on a Tuesday, my visa was processed through the China Embassy in Washington, DC on Wednesday morning, and I received it by Federal Express on Thursday. Can't beat that.

I realize that for the same time and expense that it took for me to travel from New York to Washington, DC I could have applied for a visa directly through the China Embassy without paying the visa agency fee, but the advantage of using is that they advised me what not to put on the visa application form so that it wouldn't be grounds for immediate rejection.

Thank you for the recommendation. Very interesting to know about knowing what not to put on the application.

> Very interesting to know about knowing what not to put on the application.

Too much information is as bad as no information at all. One of the questions on the Chinese visa application form is to name the countries that you have previously visited. I automatically assumed that meant that I needed to list all the countries that have stamps in my current passport, which is an amount that exceeds the limited amount of space allotted for that particular entry on the visa application form. So I proceeded to list them on a separate blank sheet of paper that was not part of the visa application form and the visa service agency told me not to do that -- to list in the allotted space on the application form only the countries that I had visited within the previous 12 months. By the way, your responses on the application form have to be typed by computer and not handwritten.

Likewise, the application asks you to provide the names of all the towns you will be visiting in China and I proceeded to list the dozen or so different towns in Szechuan and Hunan Provinces that were on my itinerary. The agency advised me to just keep it simple and list only my arrival and departure destination (Shanghai) along with one of the more standard tourist destinations (Chengdu). The list you provide is non-binding so no sense taking the chance of doing yourself in from the get-go. However, if you plan on going to a politically sensitive area such as Tibet or Xinjiang Province in the far west of China (Silk Road), you would want to discuss with the visa service agency how to handle that on your visa application.

Skunkman writes:

> However, we don't understand why Ada had to go to Washington to get her
> visa through a company, when it could have been obtained quite easily by
> visiting the Chinese Consulate attached to their embassy in NY.

Skunkman is correct that I could have gotten my visa through the Chinese Consulate in NY as he has done and as I had done for 2 previous visits to China. Indeed, it had been my every intention to go there on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. However, when I telephoned the consulate the evening before (Oct. 2), a recording came on that said that the consulate was closed Monday, Oct. 3 through (and including) Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 for the annual Chinese Golden Week holiday. The consulate was also going to be closed on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 for the US Columbus Day Holiday. And of course it's not open on Saturdays and Sundays. I was departing on my trip on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 so there was absolutely no time to spare. Furthermore, the recording stated that due to the heavy volume of people applying for visas, one had to make an appointment for the NY consulate in advance, which was a new policy. The earliest available appointment was for Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 at noon, which would have been cutting it too close for comfort. So under the circumstances I had no other choice but to go to Washington in person and use the visa service agency that my highly reputable tour company had recommended. Another reason why I dealt with the visa service agency is because the Chinese Embassy in Washington was also closed for the Golden Week Holiday on Oct. 3 and 4, 2011, but mercifully it was open Oct. 5, which is the day the agency got my visa.

I know that begs the question why didn't I apply for the visa sooner? Because 1) I booked the China tour as a last minute substitution after my originally-scheduled Adventures Abroad tour to Japan was cancelled; and 2) I was also out of the country for most of Sept. 2011 and didn't return until Sept. 30.

So yes, under normal circumstances you can deal with your closest consulate, as Skunkman recommends, but in my case it was a dire emergency that necessitated going to Washington. I hope I will never be in a "pins and needles" situation like that again.

I live in Sacramento, CA and there's a travel agency that we use to apply for Visa to China. I just provide all the necessary information on the visa application, Passport, itineraries, along with payment to the agency, they handle everything (in San Francisco) and I get the passport back with the visa in about 1 week to 10 days time. It's very convenient as it saves travel and waiting time in the Embassy.
I don't know if your city has a travel agency that will perform such service but I imagine that there is. You should check with an agency that specializes in travel to China.