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US visa - Frequent Traveler Program


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Today I completed the basic process of the Frequent Traveler Program for US visa applications. I was going to post this on my weblog, but nobody reads it and its Google rank is low. Hopefully this account of my experience will be found useful by somebody if I post it here.

My wife just gave birth to our third child. The timing of this was inconvenient because we are planning a trip to the US in October for which she needs a B2 tourist visa. In Shanghai, the application process involves standing in a long line, outdoors, for up to several hours. This was not ideal.

Luckily, during the research phase of the application process I found that this time she qualifies for the Frequent Traveler Program of the US consulate here in Shanghai. The FTP allows Chinese who meet certain criteria, the most limiting being that their previous US visa must still be valid or expired less than 12 months ago, to apply for a visa without going through the interview. This also implies that the person who needs the visa doesn't have to go to the Visa Processing Center, which is what we wanted.

Excluding the interview (which is big: no evidence-gathering, no standing in line, no nervous breakdowns, etc), the requirements are largely the same as the standard process. One 2x2 inch photo, the DS-160 confirmation printout, current passport and passport with the last visa (may be the same), and the visa fee plus a RMB 120 processing and delivery fee (total RMB 1058) need to be brought to the CITIC bank branch directly across from the Visa Processing Center, west of the Meilongzhen mall. The address of the entire mall/office complex that contains the CITIC is 1168 Nanjing West Rd, but if you know the area then just follow the instructions above.

When you arrive at CITIC, skip the bank on the first floor and go into the attached office building. Take the elevator to the 27th floor CITIC office and hand your materials to the receptionist. She will make sure that you have everything in order, give you a payment slip for the processing fee and the courier delivery form, and send you downstairs to the bank to pay the fees. Don't take a number, just go to window 3 marked "visa something-or-other". They'll know what you're there for. After you've paid, fill out the delivery form with your mailing address and go back up to the 27th floor. Give your materials to the staff at the desks by the back window, admire the view while they shuffle papers, and then you're done. Walk to Wujiang Rd and reward yourself with a Krispy Kreme donut.

No appointment is necessary, but know that the staff upstairs goes to lunch at 11:30 and doesn't come back until 1pm. Also bring the address to which you want the passport couriered in case your application is successful because you will be asked to pre-fill the delivery form. Unlike the interview, anybody can turn in the materials: the visa is for my wife, but I did the whole thing while she stayed comfortably at home.

Now that I think about it, should I have gone to Krispy Kreme before the visit to CITIC and delivered a dozen donuts to the staff? I wonder how that would affect our chances! Haha. The guy who processed the application had a KK calendar on his desk, FWIW.

Links with more info here:



UPDATE: Application submitted on Monday, passport delivered with visa (success!) on Friday. RMB 50 courier fee collected on delivery.

Edited by msittig
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