Our recent dealings with US Consulate in Chengdu have found them incompetent at best - - or dishonest at worst.
I have been treated by a Chinese doctor the past two years (successfully) and developed a good relationship with the family. We promised the daughter (now 16) that if she got into the "best" high school and got good grades that we would take her on a holiday to the US.
I even took a special trip to Chengdu and visited with the Vice-Consul - - went over details to make sure we did everything right - - and was assured "no problem." We recruited another 16-year-old honor student (we tutor English) to go as a traveling companion.
We did everything suggested in person - - on the phone - - and on their webpage - - and even more. Interviewers didn't even look at all supporting documents we had assembled including pre-paid roundtrip tickets, pre-paid hotel reservations, and so on.
Father of second girl is a police official in Yunnan. He went to Foreign Affairs Police in Chengdu. After checking our details, the police said the "unwritten rule" at the Chengdu Consulate was to only approve visas for students who were traveling in "approved" groups.
HAD THEY BEEN HONEST ENOUGH TO TELL US THIS IN THE BEGINNING, WE COULD HAVE SIGNED UP THE GIRLS IN A GROUP AND THEN JOINED THEM ON OUR OWN.
Consular personnel only answered our "WHY?" question with - - "you didn't prove they weren't going to stay in US." How could we if they wouldn't even look at documents.
Although I am a proud American - - disabled veteran - - I am dismayed - - disappointed - - and ashamed of treatment by Consulate Chengdu.
I understand the need to screen visa applications, and to be somewhat secretive about criteria from time to time, but the cavalier attitude at the embassy and consulates is ridiculous. It's not just Chengdu, it's every single one of them.
When we were arranging to bring a group of folk musicians to the states for a performance tour in 2005, the Chengdu visa officials made them give a performance in the yard of the consulate to "prove" they were musicians. When we got to the states, I found out that there are explicit rules against this, because it basically amounts to: "you want to go to the states? Then dance monkey, dance!"
Another friend was asked repeatedly if her fiacee was circumcised. What kind of *&%*#& is that?
I have at least a dozen more stories like this, but instead I'll close with a little exchange I had with an old China hand in Beijing:
Me: I just went to the new embassy. It's huge. They've even got a Jeff Koon sculpture in the front yard.
Him: Are they still treating the Chinese like cattle?
Me: Um, yeah.
I guess not much has changed in the last 40 years.
I have taken State Department test (passed) just to try to figure out how embassy/consulate people can be so dumb. My conclusion is that rather than possibly make a mistake, a simple set of rules eliminate the need to think.
I tried to help a young lady get a student visa. I stayed in the background and coached her. She had a scholarship to Southern Illinois University, full deal including a stipend, for a Masters program in Computer Science. Her English was excellent. She had a Chinese Masters and was a known database developer. She was not super pretty, just one of the crowd. REJECTED! Reason: they did not think she would return to China.
One question they asked her was, "Why do 90% of Chinese students stay in the U.S." Duh...
Same happened to us a couple weeks back. Invitation from a US Senator and all sorts of other stuff. Denied. What a waste of time, money, stress and hopes. It's not like escaping to the States to find work is a very smart decision these days, and you'd think with the economy the way it is the US would want as much Chinese currency floating over there as possible. Well, now we're gonna head to Turkey, Kenya, Cuba or some other place for vacation instead. Would rather spend my money there anyway.
Sorry to hear you got caught up in the US immigration policy of "strain for a gnat - let a train pass through" (modestly paraphrased). Since you met with the vice-consul - if you haven't already - I suggest you ask him to review this case personally.
As the consulate "fears" the kids would stay (classical moronic government response - I suspect they have a quota of rejections), there is another option of posting a security bond to guarantee the children would return home, not overstay their visas, etc. You may wish to inquire about this. It sounds nasty - and I think the bond is about USD 10k - it may not apply to your situation - I think it was used for business travelers who tend to be less risky.
Truthfully - as the other commenters have noted, the US consulate staff in chengdu really could care less. They have a random screening process - which is apparent when they don't bother to look at application packages and reject based on their whim.
If you're REALLY ticked - you can file a formal complaint for discrimination - mention all the guilty by name - and request a formal government audit - that's called a sh_t grenade. And just to be irritating - you can request many different government audits into fraud, waste, and corruption - rejection without reviewing the application package that you must PAY for is clear grounds for fraud - making you pay for something that is not even looked at. You can milk that monster for quite a while - if you've got the time and the energy (and your just ticked off enough and need an aggression channel).
Good luck with the request for formal review from the vice-consul - and don't forget - if they didn't bother to review the application package - that's a case of fraud, waste, and abuse!! Hope you don't have to go that route...ALSO don't get upset - lazy government employees love that - just stand at the window and ask to speak to a supervisor - and move up the chain until you get to the vice consul - or you can try to bring in the big cannon right up front if you don't wanna waste time with "the little people" (quote from Leona Helmsley).
oh...and to add fuel to the fire - as a vet why are you shocked? Our government (thanks to the new VA head!!) has only recently agreed to treat vietnam era vets for agent orange disabilities and combat stress disabilities - after 40 years of denial. Easy to send them to die - but we never think about what to do with them when they come home.
We treat our vets and our taxpayers the same way - unconscionable!! FYI citizens aren't viewed as citizens - but as taxpayers and campaign contributors - that's the reality of most of our political system today - it's sad.
The consulate ALWAYS denies visas on the first application. It is an un said rule there. I got this right from the source. This way they get double the app fees and if you are serious about really getting a visa, you will re apply.
I suggest you re apply and make another appointment. They also must give you different interviewer the second time.
The fraud aspect is real....
There are many beautiful and welcoming countries in this world. The USA doesn't happen to be one of them. I'm an American living in Kunming for several year and know for a fact that there is no way I could get my Chinese wife a visa to visit the US with me.
On the other hand I have found the consulate in Chengdu to be very helpful. They renewed my US passport by mail and helped with the papers I needed to get married. But on this issue, forget it! Why do you think the Chinese charge Americans $100 more for our visas than all other nationals?
Why should we single out the US Consulate, the Canadian Consulate (and Embassy) have the same attitudes.