The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has announced upcoming changes to consular procedures that are aimed at increasing the visa processing capacity in China by up to 40% in 2012. These changes are in response to the recent Executive Order signed by President Obama that seeks to benefit the American economy through increased travel and tourism to the U.S. In 2011, consular posts in China processed over 1 million visa applications, accounting for approximately 11% of the total U.S. visa workload from around the world. In order to meet the increasing visa demand, efforts are being made to enhance consular processing, including the opening of new consular offices in Guangzhou and Shanghai, as well as adding 50 new consular officers. Additionally, a new pilot program will be implemented allowing certain qualified applicants who were previously interviewed and screened for a prior visa to be eligible to renew their visas without undergoing another interview. In these select circumstances, consular officers will be able to waive interviews for qualified applicants who are renewing their visa in the same classification within 48 months of the expiration of their previously held visa. These changes are expected to greatly enhance the visa processing capacity in China, opening up as many as 100,000 interview appointments. For more details, see http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/20120209amb-visa.html.