Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Thankless Job?

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Embassy's Consular and Visa Section. I was showing a film to a handful of their 200+ staff, but afterwards took the opportunity to learn a bit more about what they actually do, which is basically two things.  
Firstly, they look after the interests of Brits in China: registering births, marriages and deaths; dealing with custody cases, arrests and emergency medi-vacs; lost passports; problems problems problems... One of the first things I saw was a bullet-proof counter for difficult cases and a Tea & Sympathy Room for grieving relatives. One has to be pretty hardened to work here.
Secondly they process visa applications for Chinese wanting to go to the UK. Over 1,500 a day! There are trolleys and boxes full of passports & paperwork and scores of people beavering away at verifying them. They're turned round pretty quickly and the rejection rate (less than 5%) is lower that one might think. 
Do they ever get thanked for what they do? Very rarely I should think.

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