U.S. orders closure of Chinese Consulate in Houston

22 Jul 20

UNITED STATES

The U.S. government has ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate General in Houston.

Key Points:

  • The U.S. gave the Chinese government until July 24 to cease operations and move personnel out of the consulate.
  • The Houston consulate served applicants in eight U.S. states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. China also operates consulates in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, in addition to the embassy in Washington, D.C.
  • Travel between the U.S. and China has slowed dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related entry restrictions in both countries. Those who did have applications pending at the Houston consulate should anticipate the possibility of delays. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Background: In a widely reported statement, the State Department said it was closing the consulate “in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s (sic) private information.” A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry called the U.S.’s move “outrageous” and “unjustified” and said China would take “legitimate and necessary” counter measures if the decision is not reversed. An article in China’s Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, suggested that China could order the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong in response to the State Department’s latest decision. Other media outlets have suggested the government may close the U.S. consulate in Wuhan.

BAL Analysis: Applicants should prepare for delays in the processing of visas and documents, and await additional details for which consulates will assume jurisdiction over applications that had been previously submitted in Houston.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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