A ticket is often sold at VND400,000 (US$17.6) to VND500,000 ($22)
A group of intermediaries has been found selling queue numbers to visa applicants at the Consulate General of China in Ho Chi Minh City, despite the presence of police officers.
The middlemen are often active from the early morning until 11:00 am ever day at the Chinese diplomatic office, situated at 175 Hai Ba Trung Street in District 3.
Although the venue is not open until 8:00 am, many residents often line up at very early in the morning so that they can apply for their visas at the facility.
However, those who do not want to go through the excruciating waiting process can buy themselves a queue ticket from these intermediaries.
As observed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on May 24, a group of people were already waiting along the sidewalk in front of the consulate general when it was only 5:30 am .
Many of them were queue ticket brokers.
According to T., one of the middlemen, they always try to be the first to show up at the agency in order to secure the very first queue tickets.
Ticket numbered one to three often sell at VND500,000 (US$22), while numbers four and five are offered at VND400,000 ($17.6).
L., another broker, even offered a full ‘visa package’ at $250.
Applicants only have to give him their portrait photos, IDs, and passports, while L. will take care of other necessary documents and the entire application process.
Clients are promised to have their visas after seven to eight days.
“I have a friend inside consulate general who can help,” L. asserted.
The situation appeared to be out of control when these middlemen helped their client cut the line in front of guards and police officers at the entrance of the building.
“If you want to cut the line, give me VND400,000,” an intermediary told an applicant.
“I have to give VND300,000 [$13.2] to the officers,” he responded when the client stated that the price was too high.
According to S., a 62-year-old resident in District 1, the middlemen have been present for a long time, but the situation has become much more serious recently.
Their operations have affected many applicants, including S. himself, as they cannot submit their documents before the office closes and have to wait in the queue again the following day.
S. said he once refused to buy the ‘services’ from the middlemen in April, and could only apply for a visa in the fourth attempt.
Many other residents reported being in the same situation as S., some of whom were lucky enough to succeed at the fourth or fifth attempt.
Meanwhile, others failed despite coming to the venue at 2:00 or 3:00 am.
“I tried to arrive early to secure my spot but many mediators had already been there,” a victim stated.
K., who lives in District 8, said he attempted to report the issue to managers of the consulate general, but all his efforts went in vain.
It is even more excruciating for visa applicants from other provinces as they have to travel a long way and rent hotel rooms for their stay in the southern metropolis.
According to Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Lanh, an official from the municipal Department of Police, the Consulate General of China are able to process documents of 50 to 60 applicants on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, about 200 to 300 people come to the venue every day.
Several police officers are in charge of checking IDs of local residents, or passports of foreign citizens, before allowing them go inside to begin their application process.
Some of these officers said they had noticed some alleged middlemen and reported back to local authorities, as they do not the power to deal with such cases, said Lanh.
“We will coordinate with the consulate general to deal with the problem and will also check if there is involvement from police officers,” he asserted.