Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What the Embassy in Guang Zhou is Really Looking for

So every year thousands of men and women stream into the embassy in Guangzhou, China looking for their Visas into the USA.  An amazing number of these people are Chinese women who have met that special someone in the USA and are trying to get a Fiancee Visa so they can marry their American sweetheart.

Minxi and I have just recently received our Visa, and, while I'm no expert, I wanted to share my impressions.

You have to fill out the paperwork.  It's a pain but, if you can't be bothered to get the paperwork right, why would anyone think you'll take the time to make the marriage work.  I really think that the ability to turn in a well done, personal (not something a lawyer poured out of a can) application packet is essential.  Not that a lawyer is not a good idea, though we did without one, I just think that something that shows the two of you worked on it together is very important.  I say that because of what I think the embassy is really looking for.

By the time Minxi and my Visa application came up for review, dozens of her "sisters," other women in the Visa process, had been down to have their interview in Guangshou.  A lot of them came back with Visas, several though got rejected.  The rejections seemed to come with notes like, "Applicant and beneficiary unable to communicate" or " relationship not established."  To  me these are embassy-eeze for, "We didn't feel like this was a strong couple."

After hearing a few of these rejections, I started encouraging Minxi to be more informal and friendly during the interview.  There are lists of potential questions available online.  Many women try to memorize these in the hope that they will provide exactly the right answer to the question.  The trouble is, the folks at the embassy are under no obligation to ask any of the questions on the list and to, infact, try to have short conversations with the applicants.  My encouragement to Minxi was that memorized responses was not going to be as effective as the ability to "chat" about our relationship.

Sure enough, when she got to the interview, the embassy official, a man, asked her what I did for a living.  "He manages a pizza restaurant."  She told him.

"Oh really?  He asked.  "Does he cook for you?"

"Yes."  She  replied.  "We had a small kitchen in our hotel in Hong Kong.  He made me chou fan (fried rice.)  

The embassy man thought it was funny that I would travel all the way to Hong Kong and to make Chinese food so they a bit of a laugh.

A few seconds later, he spotted a high school picture of me wearing *sigh* a mullet.  The officer asked, "Do you like his hair in this photo?"

"Yeah."  Minxi replied.  "My husband is very cool."


"Yeah.  Cool."

This amused the man so much that he took my photo and showed it to some of his friends around the office.  When he came back to Minxi, he was still laughing, but told her, that she was going to get her Visa.

So what was that all about, besides mocking the mullet?  I think it was about the fact that Minxi was able to tell the embassy official that we had a relationship where we took care of each other and that Minxi was going to be "cool" with the changes.  In other words, that what we have is not something memorized online but a real effort by two people who are in love.  Really, why the hell else would a pizza place manager for Topeka, Kansas make fried rice in Hong Kong?

So, I encourage you, if you are trying to get a Visa for your fiancee, to fill out the paperwork, prove that she won't become indigent, but remember to be a little cooler than the women who are walking up with nothing more than the questions and answers they picked up online.

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