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Cablegate: Chinese Mfa Hosts Visa Conference: Mantis Saos, Refusal

VZCZCXRO3319
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0670 3450627
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110627Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1160
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0374
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0929
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0312
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0302
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0303
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0371
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0276
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC 0058

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000670

SIPDIS

STATE FOR CA/VO, CA/FPP, CA/P, EAP/CM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT PREL KFRD CH

SUBJECT: CHINESE MFA HOSTS VISA CONFERENCE: MANTIS SAOS, REFUSAL
RATES, AND FINGERPRINTS
1. (U) SUMMARY: The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
organized a visa conference in Guangzhou on December 2-4 to discuss
U.S. visa policy. Consistent with previous visa conferences, the

main issues on the Chinese side were complaints about the length of
time to process Mantis security advisory opinion (SAO) requests,
wait times for interviews, refusal rates, fingerprint requirements,
and communication with applicants who are subject to administrative
processing. Mission China cited major reductions in SAO processing
time over the past year, the new Consulate building in Guangzhou
which is scheduled for completion in 2013, and the scheduled release
of the DS-160 online application as examples of our ongoing effort
and commitment to improving service and efficiency. In response,
the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) requested formal
instruction on the DS-160 online application. The MFA will likely
continue to press us to finish processing Mantis SAOs within ten
working days, to exempt more high-level applicants from fingerprints
requirement, and to share the specific reasons applicants are denied
visas after undergoing administrative processing. END SUMMARY
2. (U) The Chinese participants, headed by Mr. Wang Xiang Yang,
the Director of the Visa Division at the Consular Department of the
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), included representatives
from the Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) of the provinces of Anhui,
Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shanxi, Yunnan, and
Zhejiang; the Ministries of Civil Affairs, Commerce, Defense,
Education, Finance, Public Health, and Railways; and multiple
state-owned enterprises including Air China, the Bank of China,
China Telecom, the Chinese Academy of Science and Social Sciences,
the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), the
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the National Energy
Bureau, Shandong Airlines Co., and the ZTE Corporation.
3. (U) In his opening remarks, Mr. Wang described the U.S.-Sino
relationship as 'steady' and praised the 'positive progress' in
trade and commercial issues between the two countries in recent
years. He highlighted the recent Presidential visit and meetings
between U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing as a symbol of the
important role that U.S.-Sino cooperation is playing in
international affairs. Mr. Wang stated that in order to facilitate
the people-to-people contact that President Obama had emphasized
during his recent visit, the U.S. missions in China should reduce
the time it takes to process Mantis SAOs. He noted that it still
takes approximately one month for Chinese applicants with a
scientific or technical background to undergo administrative
processing and requested Mission China to finish administrative
processing for these applicants within ten working days. Mr. Wang
stated that the MFA looks forward to maintaining 'friendly
cooperation' and 'close communication' with the U.S. missions in
China.
4. (U) The U.S. participants consisted of the Consular Section
Chief and the NIV Unit Chief in Guangzhou, the NIV Unit Chief in
Beijing, the Deputy NIV Unit Chief in Shanghai, and three Vice
Consuls. The Consular Section Chief in Guangzhou noted that 85% of
the applicants for a F-1 visa are successful and that the average
processing time for applications from FAO is one working day. He
noted that only about 3% of FAO applicants end up requiring
administrative processing which now takes only an average of two to
three weeks. The Consular Section Chief cited the new Consulate
building in Guangzhou which is scheduled for completion in 2013 and
which will house 22 more public service windows (i.e. from 43 to 65)
as one example of mission China's effort and commitment to improving
service and efficiency.
5. (U) As another example of our commitment to improving service
and efficiency, the NIV Unit Chief in Guangzhou highlighted the
scheduled release of the DS-160 online application on 01 March 2010.
He noted that the DS-160 online application may reduce the need to
return to the Embassy or a Consulate for successive interviews and
that since the DS-160 enables us to conduct the pre-processing and
the pre-screening of data in advance of interviews, processing
delays will likely be reduced. He also reminded participants that
applicants who were issued a full validity visa within the last 12
months can save time by using the drop box system. In addition, the
Guangzhou NIV Unit Chief noted that Mission China as a whole
approves about 82% of B1/B2 visa applicants and about 96% of
applicants from FAO. He noted that some problems with FAO
applicants include the usage of fake invitation letters, the
omission from application forms or the denial during interviews of
having family in the United States, and requests for special favors
for their non-FAO friends or relatives.
6. (U) During the Q&A session, a ICBC representative asserted that
applicants who are subject to administrative processing should
receive clear communication of this. Representatives from Air China
and Shangdong Airlines asserted that the wait time for interviews
needs to be reduced further and that more high-level applicants
should be exempted from the requirement for interviews and
fingerprints. An official from the Shanghai FAO reminded us that
FAO applicants were already examined and approved by the Chinese
government to carry out official business. Therefore, when a FAO
applicant is denied a visa, the FAO would like to know the reason
for the denial so that they can better screen their applicants. In
addition, FAO requested some type of formal instruction on the
DS-160 online application so that they can in turn provide training
to their applicants.
7. (U) In response to these questions, the U.S. participants
stated that every applicant who is subject to administrative
processing knows about it because they are told of it at the time of
the interview. The U.S. side also stated its willingness to move up
interview dates for certain applicants who have urgent travel plans
and emphasized the importance for applicants to make it clear with
MFA, not with them, if their travels are urgent. Due to privacy
concerns, the U.S. will not share personal information with the FAO.
It is important to note, however, that applications are refused
based on the individual applicant and not on the affiliated agency
or enterprise, and that, in the end, 98% of those who undergo
administrative processing are approved for a visa. Mission China
also concurred that some type of formal instruction for the FAO on
the DS-160 online application would be useful.
8. (U) In his concluding remarks, Mr. Wang reiterated that
administrative processing should not be an obstacle to
people-to-people contact. The United States remains the most
important destination for public affairs delegations from China. He
claimed that the 18% refusal rate is still high and urged the U.S.
to further reduce the refusal rate and the number of people who are
subject to administrative processing.

GOLDBECK

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