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A user- ()     10/23/2001 08:12 AM
 


I succeeded in getting my employer-sponsored immigration visa (EB2) approved through the consular process at Guangzhou, China. I put up my experience here in hope that others following the same route may find it helpful.
Call the consulate directly to get your status once the Packet III is sent out.

It took the package IV more than 2 weeks to reach me from the consulate, and I barely had enough time to get all the needed documents, arrange for international travel, and be there for the medical exams. I did call the consulate a couple of times to find out if my submitted documents were complete, and they informed me that they were. They also verified my address in the U.S., but never explicitly told me the interview date. Therefore, it's very important to ask them to check and tell you if an interview date has been scheduled, and if so, when.

The number to call is 86-020-8399-2000

and you can only talk to a live person 2:00-4:00pm Guangzhou time. The above number may change; you can call the main number listed from the consulate's Web site and find the right number by navigating the voice menu. If you are told that the line is busy, call back after a few minutes. Have your case number ready; it should begin with GUZ followed by a number generated by the National Visa Center. Staff can speak both English and Mandarin.
Fly to Guangzhou for medical exams and vaccination
You must have the medicals and vaccination done prior to the interview. You should give yourself at least 2 days -- one day for the exams and one day for getting the result. I recommend

Health Care Center of Guangdong International Travel
33 Shamian North Street, Shamian Island, Guangzhou
Tel: 86-020-81889513

It is located on the same island as the U.S. consulate and the two locations are within walking distance of each other. The staff there are professional and friendly; they will guide you from start to finish for each test, and they are familiar with the medical/vaccination required by the consulate. You should bring the interview notice letter from the consulate (a photocopy is fine), 4 passport photos (frontal), and all the medical forms in Package IV.

Bring previous vaccination records so that you may avoid some shots. The whole process takes about two hours. I arrived around 8:00am and were done well before noon. You will get a receipt telling you when to return to pick up the result.

The result is sealed in an envelop and you must not open it until the interview. You'll also be given a tube containing the X-ray. It might be needed so bring it to the interview. The brown and yellow health/vaccination certificates are for your records only. Since your result is sealed, you can find the same information from these certificates.
Interview
You don't need to go to the consulate earlier than your scheduled time. Outside the consulate there are lanes marked for immigrant applicants with their appointment time. Line up according to your appointment time. I was scheduled for 9:30am, but wasn't allowed in until 11:00am. It was rather crowded and a bit chaotic outside the consulate; be patient. Have your interview letter ready.

Once inside the courtyard, go to the visa room at the back. Give your interview letter to the staff roaming the room, and take a seat. When I was there, the room was packed; some people were chatting loudly; children were running around. Again, be patient. Your name will be called.

Go to the designated window and turn in your documents to the local staff. You'll break the medical envelop there, and put two visa style photos in a small plastic bag. The local staff can be difficult, negative, and fault-finding. My tormenter tossed out some documents that I submitted, then demanded them again impatiently. She also said that my police certificate had expired (I've never been back to China for many years.) Ignore them; just get the necessary documents in.

You'll be asked to pay at a seperate window. They only accpet RMB, not U.S. dollar, contrary to some information posted on the Web. If you don't have the money in RMB, you can go back to the original window and ask for permission to go out of the consulate to get it. You'll get a slip of paper, which allows you to return, and tell the guards at the door that you'll be back. There's a Bank of China branch in a few blocks.

They didn't ask any document not on the packet IV list. They didn't even keep my tax returns and pay stubs, although the local staff glanced at them. You should, of course, bring as many documents as possible just in case they are needed.

Once you've paid, you need to sit down and wait to be called again. In my case, an American consul asked me to swear to tell the truth. She was very nice and asked me a few very simple questions like: Where do you work? How did you first go to the U.S.? Which school did you go to? What was your major? What did you do at the company? She asked me how long I've been back in China, and I said a couple of days. She then said the police certificate was okay. And she approved my application. I was the last one stepping out of the consulate.
Picking up the visa and returning via Los Angeles
You go back at 4:30pm to pick up your visa outside the consulate with your passport. No lines; they'll call your name. The visa is a sealed package with a colorful approval notice stapled outside. No stamps in your passport.

When leaving China, show your passport and this package to the airline staff at checkin and the Chinese border security at the airport. At Los Angeles, go to the "First time immigrants" aisle. They'll let U.S. citizens with adopted children and fiance visa holders go first. Then they'll get your finger-print and signature and take your package. They then stamp your passport with the temporary green card. You're done. It took me 30 minutes at LA as there were about 20 new immigrants.
Timeline
Case sent to NVC on: May 7, 2001
Packet IV sent from Guangzhou: August 16, 2001
Packet IV arrived: Sept. 1, 2001
Interview on: Sept. 11, 2001
Priority date: July 29, 1998
Misc.
I stayed at the Victory (Sheng Li) Hotel on the Shamian Island, which is close to both the Health Care Center and the U.S. consulate. The hotel takes credit card, which is not possible in other hotels I stayed. It was about RMB 200 a night.

You can get on the Internet at the Henan Guest House (Henan Zhao Dai Suo) nearby for RMB 20 an hour. Ask the front desk for its location.

Use taxi to get around. No tips are needed anywhere.
Good luck!

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