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Press Release

American Institute in Taiwan to Begin New Visa Information Service

On June 8, 2001, the American Institute in Taiwan will begin a new telephone visa information service to handle requests for visa information. The new service should virtually eliminate the busy signals and unanswered calls that have frustrated many callers who seek information about visas. It will also provide more detailed and comprehensive answers to the most commonly asked questions in a format that will allow callers to choose which information they want to hear.

The telephone number for the new visa information line is 0204-58858. This recorded service will be available 24 hours a day in two languages, English and Mandarin. It is a "0204 service", which means it is a local toll call, and it will cost NT $6 per minute. Forms and information sheets regarding visas may be obtained by using a fax machine to call the fax on demand service at 0204-58958. The charge for fax on demand is also NT $6 per minute. In addition, visa information will continue to be available on AIT's Web site at

The new telephone service has become necessary because of the increasing volume of visa inquiry calls. AIT currently receives about 15,000 telephone inquiries a month, and consular officials processed over 300,000 applications last year for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

The new visa information service is superior to the existing telephone information system in several ways:

* It handles more calls at a time, which should eliminate busy signals.
* The information available is broader in scope and more detailed.
* Callers no longer have to listen to the entire recorded message to find the information
they need. They can choose from a menu of choices to select the information they want to
hear, and they can end the call at any time.
* Callers must use a touch-tone phone that has IDD access. (Mobile phones and public telephones will also work.)
* The new service is expected to free up the AIT switchboard so that people who have other business will be able to get through more easily.

The "0204 service" is project-managed and designed by Call-Call Telecom Corporation and provided through Chung Hua Telecom. Callers will be charged on their usual telephone bill. Although fairly new to Taiwan, 0204 service automated response systems are increasingly common in the U.S. (where they use the prefix 900) and elsewhere as a way of providing information to a large number of callers.