US liberalizes visa procedures for Chinese

(KTSF by Sean Au)

In his State of the Union address,  President Barack Obama stated that his administration wants to simplify the process for tourists who want to visit the U.S. to spend money, pumping money into the U.S. economy .  In keeping with his goal,  the U.S State Department announced new procedures today that aim to attract more tourists from China and Brazil, two emerging tourist markets. For example, non-immigrant visa applicants from China need not be interviewed again if their old visas  expired  less than four years ago. Under the old procedure, only applicants with their visas expired less than a year ago are exempted from the interview process.    

(AP)

Statistics from the State Department shows that in 2010, there were 800,000 tourists from China and they spend an average of $6,000 per person. The tourists injected $5 billion into the U.S. economy.

One Chinese tourist in San Francisco tells KTSF that she plans to spend about 20,000 Chinese yuan (US 3,179 dollars) in her visit. Another Chinese immigrant who now lives in the city says many Chinese are becoming richer and they like to see the world outside of China. One San Francisco local welcomes the news  saying “It would be great for the tourism industry here in San Francisco if it were easier for folks to get visas because my paycheck is supported by the tourism industry.”
The visa categories that are affected are B visa for   businessmen and tourists, C1 visa for visitors in transit, D visa for aircrew and seacrew, F and M visas for students, J visa for exchange visitors, O visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement.

The U.S. processed over one million non-immigrant visa applications last year, a 34% increase from the year before. 99% were successful .  To increase the efficiency of American consulates in China, the State Department will increase visa officials from 100 to 150. The plan is to be able to issue 2.2 million visas in China by 2013.

The State Department emphasizes that the new policy does not affect first time visa applicants.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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