The United States and China reach agreement to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists, students, and exchange visitors.
During his visit on November 8-10, 2014, to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, U.S. President Obama announced that the U.S. and China have reached an agreement to extend the visa validity of short-term business, tourist, student, and exchange visitor visas.
According to the U.S. Department of State, starting November 12, 2014, Chinese applicants who qualify as B visitors may be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and tourist travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to 5 years or the length of their program. The period of authorized stay for these visa categories is not affected.
Under the agreement, U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short-term business and tourist visas can also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residence permits valid up to 5 years, depending on the length of their educational programs. It is unclear when the new agreement will become effective in China and how it will be implemented under current Chinese immigration laws and regulations.
The reciprocal extension of visa validity to 10 years for short-term business and tourist travel between China and the United States seeks to increase travel and exchange, enhance mutual understanding between the two countries, and benefit the economy. This is a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see whether longer terms will also be granted to Chinese and Americans holding work visas in the future.