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China: Super Saturday Visa Program

Immigration Law Update Grant Sovern, Eric D. Ledbetter

The U.S. Department of State recently announced that the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, along with four U.S. consulates general across China, will be opening on Saturdays over the next few weeks to accommodate thousands of Chinese travelers seeking visas to visit the United States.

Trade, commerce, people-to-people exchanges, and tourism between China and the United States have grown dramatically over the past couple years. According to the State Department, U.S. consulates in China issued more than 487,000 visas to Chinese travelers in 2009. Sixty-six percent of these visas were for business and tourism. Growth in 2010 has been even more dramatic. China's 2010 visa load is up 28 percent over the same period last year.

From highly skilled knowledge workers in the H-1B, L-1 and O-1 temporary visa categories to permanent immigrants based on outstanding research, extraordinary ability and labor certification, Chinese nationals represent a significant and growing portion of immigrants in the United States.

"We're excited about the extraordinary growth in visa demand in China and what it means for our countries' deepening economic and interpersonal relationship," said Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. "We expect this trend to continue, and are actively increasing staffing in our Embassy and consulates. We also introduced new technologies to improve our efficiency while providing more convenient procedures for applicants."

If you have any questions about the visa program in China, please contact Grant Sovern at (608) 283-2668 / grant.sovern@quarles.com, Eric Ledbetter at (312) 715-5018 / eric.ledbetter@quarles.com or your Quarles & Brady immigration attorney.