Editor's notes: According to the US consulate general in Shenyang, the number of visa applications they received in 2010 reached 55,855, a 45% increase from the previous year, which indicates that culture and trade communications between the two countries are booming. As a result, the consulate is trying to offer more services to shorten the waiting time for applicants. China Daily reporter Liu Ce talked with John H. Gimbel, consul in charge of visa applications, about how to make your visa interview easier.
Q: There is always a long queue outside the consulate to apply for a visa. What measures have been taken to shorten their waiting time?
A: For student demand, we started working six days a week (from Monday to Saturday) last summer, so they could make it to their university on time for the fourth term. We hope to avoid it this summer because it’s not an ideal situation. But we’ve started actually last December. We opened up more appointments so there is more visa interviews occurring from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. We have done a lot to put more appointments on the books to shorten their wait time.
John H. Gimbel，visa official at the US consulate general in Shenyang. [Photo/China Daily Liaoning Bureau]
Q: How many applicants were approved last year? I guess it increased in 2010. What’s the reason?
A: Last year we had 55,855 applications, and 39,680 were approved. There are a couple of adjustments, and the approval rate was 71%.
I think the percentage is increasing a little bit, year over year, and there are several factors. Much has to do with the development of China, and we find fewer and fewer people who are staying illegally in the United States. One of the previous reasons for the increase was we were getting more and more student applications. They seem to be doing good homework before they come in. They are smart in the interview. Thus, we are happy to see more and more students going to the United States.
Q: What are the main reasons for rejection?
A: The main reason for rejection is they cannot convince our officers that they are qualified, that means they are unable to give their reasons for traveling. Qualified visa applicants typically have no problem for tourism. Unqualified applicants cannot convince my officer. I found in China, particularly, many applicants were very nervous. They don’t answer any questions we ask, and they don’t offer a lot of information. While, in other cultures, people there speak, speak, and speak, telling everything about them. You know it is much easier to have too much information than not enough information. However, in China, people don’t talk enough, and they only answer yes or no to the questions.
Q: Would you please give some useful tips or advice for applicants?
A: Be honest, when you’re interviewing with my officers, their job is to determine whether the applicants are qualified to travel and intending to return. For example, people intend to travel to the United States for tourism, logically they should make sense of things like where they are traveling to, why they traveling, where they are going to stay, what is the sight they want to see, what’re their dreams, why they want to travel to the United States. People must talk about their reason for traveling intelligently. Our officers have about 2-3 minutes for each applicant. They don’t have a lot of time to determine whether this person is qualified. So applicants can help themselves by being prepared for their visa interview.