Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Travel visas

I just got a visa for travelling to China, for Huawei and for the upcoming IETF meeting in Beijing. With all the travel I’ve done, this is the first time I’ve needed a visa — I’ve always been to countries with which the U.S. has visa waivers — and it was strange to send my passport off to someone, trusting that it’d come back in short order.

It did.

On the web site of the Chinese embassy are instructions for applying for visas, whether an L visa (for tourists), an F visa (business, which I got), or some other. The instructions include an Additional Information section, which has this item:

4. Any person suffering from a mental disorder, leprosy, AIDS, venereal diseases, contagious tuberculosis or other such infectious diseases shall not be permitted to enter China.

This is standard, of course; we have similar rules (see the section Health-related grounds). Ours says that you mustn’t have a communicable disease of public health significance, you must have been vaccinated against certain diseases, you mustn’t have a mental disorder, and you mustn’t be a drug abuser or addict.

The U.S. version of mental disorder, though, is more specific. It addresses people with behaviour that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others. I suspect that the Chinese rules are similar, but the web site is eliding the details. If the issue actually needed to come up, the full rule would be applied, and the filtering would be appropriate.

But I mused about this when I read it. Just taken on its surface, it would bar anyone taking anti-depressants, anyone on methylphenidate (Ritalin)... perhaps even anyone in treatment by a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

I wonder what portion of the population that covers. I wonder what portion of the IETF participants.


1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

Oh, man, sounds like a good excuse for a midnight deportation.