One of our clients recently asked for our help “making sure” it could get a U.S. visa for one of its China-based Chinese managers. The client wanted this manager to come to the United States for two months of training. Our client had heard from a friend in a similar situation that it was “getting near impossible” to get a visa for people from China “unless you do absolutely everything right.” We have heard that the US Immigration Service pretty much assumes that papers for everyone from China are fraudulent, and then puts the burden on them to prove otherwise. To put it another way, it is tough — but not impossible — for Chinese nationals to get into the United States.
So how do you increase the chances?
Back in 2006, The Going Global Blog did a post on getting a U.S. visa for business purposes, entitled, What Do You Have to Do to Get a Visa Around Here?“ Per our immigration lawyers, not much has changed since then. The post contains tips for securing a United States temporary business visa, and it is based on a meeting the Going Global blogger had with a US Department of Commerce representative.
According to the Department of Commerce person, U.S. consulates “receive so many forged letters” supporting invitations to visit the U.S. for business purposes, “they simply disregard most of them.” The representative suggested circumventing this by having someone in a local U.S. government office concerned with immigration issues (Perhaps the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, or a United States Export Assistance Center) forward a scanned copy of your invitation letter to the Consulate by U.S. government e-mail. Receiving your letter this way will increase the likelihood of the Consulate giving your invitation a thorough look. The Commerce person also talked of how anyone seeking a United States temporary visa must bring as much documentary evidence as possible to the Consulate to show strong ties to their home country and every intention to return to it. Documents showing home ownership, a spouse and children, large sums in a bank account in the home country, domestic business interests, and a history of leaving the country and returning.
All of these tips make sense, but I would add one more. If you are doing business with China and will frequently need to obtain visas for people from China, you should right now make it a point to get to know someone at the US Embassy in China or at one of the U.S. Consulates in China — preferably the one in the region from which the bulk of your visitors will be coming. And if you cannot do that, hire an immigration lawyer who has already done that. Tell the person at the Embassy/Consulate about your business and explain to him or her why you will likely eventually need Chinese citizens to come visit you. Ask that person if you can run all such letters through them.
Once you build up a record of credibility through honesty and a track record of the people you invite to the United States returning to their home country, it will become easier for you to get visas for people you need to see in the United States.
What have you experienced?