The decision to stop issuing immigrant visas in Beijing was explained during a 1989 interview by Elizabeth Raspolic, Consul General at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 1986 to 1988:
In terms of visas, when I first got [to Beijing], we issued both immigrant and non-immigrant visas, but we were in the process of trying to consolidate all immigrant visa issuing in Guangzhou. We felt it was unnecessary to have a duplicate operation in Beijing, in terms of IVs. We didn’t have sufficient American personnel, and our Chinese staff was not experienced enough to be able to deal with the variety of cases that we were getting. Whereas Guangzhou had so much experience in this and these cases were just routine in Guangzhou, we figured out that obviously it was going to be physically inconvenient for some of our northern applicants, but since over 85% of the applicants came from the south and of the Beijing applicants, Shanghai used to be in their consular district for IV purposes, almost half the Beijing applicants were from Shanghai and it was equidistant for them to go to Guangzhou as to Beijing. So we felt ultimately we were inconveniencing maybe 200 to 400 people a year, but we were benefiting almost 15,000 to 16,000. So that’s what we did. We really received very little flak for it. I think it was much more efficient.
It also gave us time in Beijing to concentrate on