This morning I submitted my Chinese visa application for my 1-year MBA scholarship from China Scholarship Council (CSC). I find the process to be very efficient and the staff members very amicable and helpful. My whole interaction with the agency thus far has been extremely good – contrary to my expectation.
Visa application is submitted to Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC), a different entity from Chinese Embassy – which is good, since I’ve had more than enough bad experience with the latter.
I started my application by downloading the application form online. Based on the information I received from South China University of Technology (SCUT), I’d need to submit Physical Examination Record for Foreigners and a set of blood tests. In the end though, none of these other documents are needed. The CVASC staff who answered my phone calls were patient, very clear, helpful, and amicable in explaining to me that they no longer need health check up documents. I thought I needed to make an online appointment, but apparently they discarded this process already, although the menu is still available online. “Don’t bother to use the menu,” the staff said, “you can just come at any time to submit your documents.”
The process I experienced this morning was quick and efficient. I arrived at the center a few minutes before 9:00 am and stood in a formed queue of less than 10 people. The center opened at 9:00 am. The Indonesian security guard asked me in Chinese-accented English: “Regular or express?” referring the service type I’d like to use for my application. I chose regular and was given “R002” queue number.
I was called in a few minutes later and submitted my documents. The documents needed for my application were:
- Chinese Visa Application Form: you can either download it or ask for it from their security guard at the entrance.
- Photo to be attached to the form: 4cm x 6cm.
- JW201: original + photocopy.
- Admission Letter: original + photocopy.
- Passport: original + photocopy.
- ID card: photocopy.
The original of JW201 and admission letter were only needed so the officer can match them to the copies. They were promptly returned to me on the spot. I was asked to make one change on my visa application form: I applied for 1-year multiple-entry visa while I should have chosen the single-entry visa. “Any study visa applicant must use this type of visa,” explained the officer, “anyway you’ll have to go to police office within 30 days of your arrival to change your visa to residence permit. That will allow you to re-enter China during the period of the permit.” One other thing the officer reminded me: “Please make sure you don’t apply to early. You must enter China within 3 months after your visa is issued.” Of course, this is standard practice and policy for any visa I’m aware of.
After all my documents were checked, I was given a “Pickup Form” that I will need to fetch my passport. Today is Thursday, 23 July; the officer told me to come back on Tuesday, 28 July. I can fetch my passport starting at 9:00 am. That’s effectively 3 work days of processing the visa. Awesome! I wonder how come anyone would need an express or rush processes.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes. By 9:15 am, I have already left the center. So now I’m looking forward to 28 July to fetch my passport with my Chinese visa in it. Another milestone toward my sabbatical!