18 August 2008

China, after the Olympics

As most of you know by now, travel to China became incredibly difficult this past April as the Middle Kingdom tightened the rules for acquiring a tourist or business or visit visa.
My company, Visa Services Canada, dealt with a lot of customers trying to get to the Olympics. It was our pleasure to be the official provider of visas to Alliant/Bell Canada's contest winners on all the all-expense-paid trips to the Olympics. We even aided some Canadian Olympic team members in getting visas. These were supposed to be be issued automatically, but the bureaucratic nightmare that is a Chinese visa application processes looked for a while to be set to deny visas to several of our athletes. In the end, only days before their flights, we acquired the last visas, and the athletes headed for Beijing.
With the Olympics ending and the demand for visas dropping, there was hope of a return to the former relaxed visa rules. However, I am sorry to report there is no end to the harsh rules in sight.
Tourist visas can now only be issued to passengers with a confirmed itinerary entailing all travel arrangements and a confirmed hotel with full contact data.
Visitor visas are far more difficult. People wanting to visit family must show a copy of the official PRC identity card for their contact, as well as a kinship certificate and a personal invitation letter. They also need confirmed travel arrangements.
The good news is the price: visas are rock-bottom priced at only $50.
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