I recently had a stressful situation in getting my visa to go back to China all because I was late in applying. Fortunately, it all worked out and I got my “Urgent” visa and in the process I learned a few things that I would like to share here.
1. You no longer get your visa from the Chinese consulate in Toronto. Instead go to the Visa Application Centre.
The most important thing is that the Chinese consulate in Toronto no longer processes visas as there is now a Visa Application Center that handles such matters. Foolish me, when I first saw this site on Google I thought it was a private visa service company and did not stop to read it. That was a painful mistake and it cost me a day. Below is the link.
2. The forms have changed…slightly.
There is a new form which can be found at the website above and you need to type in your information. The gentlemen working the front counter explained this to me. This also cost me a day. To be truthful it was the same day that I lost above, so really I lost only one day. I was fortunate that the gentlemen working that day was very polite and explained all the problems with the way I had filled out the old application form. For example, since I was visiting family I needed to get an invitation letter with copies of my inviter’s Chinese ID card. Also, I didn’t have copies of my return flight information with me that was needed too. Additionally, they no longer accepted the old form and haven’t for a few years. This nice guy explained the deficiencies of my application and also gave me checklist of things that I needed to get before I reapplied. All this information ie checklist is available on the website.
Another tip this guy told me was about the invitation letter and copy of the cards, he said they accept photos taken from a phone and scanned. This allowed me to get all my documents ready by the next morning.
3. They no longer do same day requests. The urgent request takes 1 day.
It has been a few years since I last got a visa to China, but I was pretty sure you used to be able to get same day service, but this is no longer the case. It now takes one day.
I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I
- Got my visa 1 month in advance
- Filled in the correct application
- Brought my flight information
- Brought my invitation letter
- Most importantly, read the website – visaforchina.org – before starting my application. The site is very user friendly and you can even make an appointment which allows you to get in the Urgent/Express line.
I have to say the the site and the new center are a major step up from what I had remembered. You arrive at a clean new office building on University Avenue, go up to the 15th floor and have a small wait in line before you are greeted by the someone at the front desk who will give you a number if you have all your documents. Then you get a number and wait to see the attendants behind the counter to get your application processed. When you return the next day to pick up your visa you repeat the steps and then pay. To be honest, I thought it was a well run process and everyone I met was polite and professional. Just read the site first!