Where to ask questions
If you have any questions regarding the visa application process – i.e. see which documents you need, confirm if you have the right documents or ask questions specific to your unique situation – you can go to the “inquiry”(should be “enquiry”) booths #15-17. They don’t take any submissions. They are there to answer questions only.
Passports are available for pick-up at 9am on the expected date shown on your receipt. I went to pick up my passport at 11:20am on the pick-up date but the lady at the pick-up booth said it was not ready yet. She told me to go to the 3F and ask an officer at one of the enquiry booths. The officer at the enquiry booth said the passport will be ready by 4:30pm. I explained that I had a flight to catch on the same day 6pm from Hongqiao and asked if it can be ready by 3 or 3:30pm. The officer went inside the office to check with her colleagues and came back out to tell me that I need to submit a printed copy of my flight itinerary(you can also print documents on the 3F via this process). So I managed to get my passport back and catch my flight from Hongqiao in the nick of time.
The visa officers will try to help you with your unique case but they will not promise anything and give you false hope. No matter how rude they may appear to be, try to understand that their jobs are tough and try not to complain to them. Stay polite, smile, and ask good questions to lead the conversation to reach a clear answer for your issues.
The Queuing Path
Unlike queuing up for visa submissions booths, there is no numbered queuing system here. So there is the traditional stand-in-line system and the first 16 people will sit-in-line (because there are 2 benches that have 16 seats in total).
The first person will sit in the seat in front of booth 16 and the queue line will loop the two rows of seats in a “n”-shape(or “u”-shaped depending on how you look at it), as shown in the diagram below. If both rows are full, then you stand in line.
If you appear to be lost (or if you head straight for the enquiries booth while there are people sitting on the queuing bench), then one of the old security guards will tell you where to line-up.