China doesn’t want you there.


I’m taking a break from combing through the loads of paperwork required to submit my visa application for China and the only logical conclusion I can come to is that China doesn’t want you there.

They go so far as to request you get a special sized photo for your application, because apparently the standard 2×2 portrait that every other embassy and consulate accepts is beneath their standards.

Out of the 5 or 10 visas I’ve applied for in my life, China is also the only one requiring me to either drive to Chicago to personally hand it in (aka a 3 hour traffic helltrap from Indianapolis) or utilize a third-party company to transfer the paperwork for me. What’s even worse is that every company tries to outline the rules in the most daunting way possible to scare you into agreeing to their upcharge “concierge” services, where they offer such groundbreaking favors as ‘Registering you with the US Embassy for only $28 per person!’ (a free thing any traveler can do, for any destination, simply by visiting — a bit of unsolicited advice, I highly suggest you do this before any trip. We were in Kenya back in January when the terrorist attacks happened in Nairobi and were contacted by the government with a lot of straight forward facts, helpful information and details. 

I’m compiling a stack of printouts to pass along to FedEx Overnight including, but not limited to: an entire 8 page application, photocopies of passport pages that will also accompany my actual passport itself, detailed hotel reservations for every day my stay, ticketed airline itineraries, my tax records for the past decade, a packing list including daily breakdowns of sock and undergarment colors, and a promise to hand over my firstborn child (OK, so only half of that is true, but I swear this packet is quickly becoming longer than my last CVS receipt.)

The upside is that the Chinese embassy typically doles out their visas in the “Ten Year, Unlimited Entry” varietal… meaning this will hopefully be a one and done process for me. Tate got his a few years back, and since he does a lot of work with China it is safe to say this hopefully won’t be the only time this elusive, overpriced passport sticker gets put to work.

Viva los visa!

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