By Fiona Freddy

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Abuja has opened a new visa application centre for prospective Nigerians who wish to visit the country.

The Abuja Chinese Visa Application Centre, located at Churchgate Plaza, Central Business District, was opened on Wednesday, September 20, 2017.

The Deputy Ambassador, Mr Lin Jing told journalists, at a news briefing in Abuja, that “From Wednesday, September 20, 2017, all ordinary passport holders wishing to visit the People’s Republic of China are requested to apply for visas at the Abuja China Visa Application Centre.”

Jing said diplomatic and official passport holders or applicants applying for Hong Kong/Macao Special Administrative Region visa/entry permits are to submit their applications directly to the Chinese embassy.

He said another centre would also be opened in Lagos where visa applications would be submitted there.

According to Jing, the visa application centre was opened to improve the service standard for applicants but not to harm the procedure, adding that the application process and duration for visa issuance remain unchanged.

He said: “We have limited resources and facilities and over the past years, we have seen visa applicants sweating under the sun. We have been trying hard to improve our services and make it more comfortable for visa applicants, while waiting for their interviews or to submit applications

“We are happy to announce that China visa application centre will open on Wednesday, September, 20, 2017. We hope that with the opening of the centre, we will improve our services for applicants from all works of life.

“The centre would be located at Churchgate Plaza, Central Business District, Abuja. The centre is entrusted to receive visa applications on behalf of the embassy and we have a duty to oversee their operations. The embassy decides whether to approve or disapprove visa applications.”

After visas are issued, the envoy said passports would be sent back to the application centre where applicants will pick them up, noting that the new visa application fee is now N31,250 which included service fees and VAT.

He noted that the application centre is a commercial entity and independent of the Chinese embassy, even as he urged prospective applicants to be patient with the new development.