Fun Times at the Chinese Consulate: Virtual Edition

30 Nov

In two weeks I’m heading up to Chicago again for my annual visit to see one of my favorite cities, some old friends, and of course the Chinese consulate. As usual, I am trying to fit too many things into a short amount of time, as I’ll only be in Chicago for 24 hours before I head to Milwaukee to visit one of my best friends and celebrate our December birthdays. I need to get more pages added to my passport, which I can either do by mail (which takes four to six weeks, which would be cutting it close) or at the Chicago Passport Agency. The complicated part is that the Chinese visa office needs my passport to add the visa, so my passport cannot be in two places at once, so I am trying to determine if it’s possible to get both things done in 24 hours. Since I like to avoid actual human interaction and paying 10 cents a minute on my pay-as-you-go phone, I decided to email the Chinese consulate to inquire about their same-day express processing. Maybe I could drop my passport off as soon as I got into Chicago (presuming Megabus was on time), pick up my passport and shiny new visa the next morning, and then go straight to the passport agency before my train to Milwaukee. (There’s no way that plan could backfire, I know!)

Here is the email I sent to the Chinese consulate:

I am interested in applying for a multiple-entry tourist “L” visa. If I come to the office and drop my application and passport off between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and pay the extra $30 for the rush service, when is the earliest I can pick up my visa on the next day?

And this is what they wrote back:

You need to provide the hotel reservation and flight ticket for applying the tourist visa.

… OK, that is helpful information, but in what way does it answer my question? I guess that’s what I get for taking the lazy way out. I may have to forget about the passport pages until I get back to Cincinnati and pay for express processing through the mail. I don’t miss the high taxes and parking costs of living in Chicago, but I do miss the convenience of having consulates and major government agencies just down the block. Come on, Cincinnati, both Detroit and Hot Springs, Arkansas have passport agencies, it’s time to step up your game!


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