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US, China to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists, and students

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Editor's note: The following article is taken from the United States Department of State and combines two separate webpages obtained from its official site. The new statutes and FAQ are reprinted here in their entirety as a public service announcement without comment or interpretation by GoKunming.

Starting November 12, the United States and the People's Republic of China will reciprocally increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas and student and exchange visas issued to each other's citizens.

Chinese applicants who qualify for a B-category nonimmigrant visa (NIV) may now 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-category visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program.

U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short term business and tourist visas should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program.

Benefits of visa validity extension

• The reciprocal extension of visa validity to 10 years for short-term business and tourist travel between China and the United States will increase travel and exchanges, enhance mutual understanding between our countries, and benefit our economies by increasing the ease of trade and investment. Ten years is the longest visa validity possible under U.S. law.

• This new arrangement will be more convenient and less costly for travelers. Prior to this, Chinese and American business travelers and tourists had to apply annually if visiting the United States or China each year.

• Until now, many Chinese students who left the United States for short visits abroad were required to apply for new visas. Under the new arrangement, Chinese students will find it easier and more convenient to return home because in many cases they will not be required to obtain new visas prior to returning to the United States to study.

• The arrangement underscores the U.S. commitment to promote bilateral tourism and trade and increase opportunities for people-to-people engagement.


• More NIVs are processed in China than in any other country; applications processed in China represent more than 14 percent of all NIV applications worldwide. More than 1.95 million NIV applications were processed for Chinese nationals in fiscal year 2014.

• Wait times for interview appointments in China have averaged less than one week at each post in Mission China for the last two years. Due to efficient processing, most applicants are able to enter the Embassy or Consulate, complete their interview, and depart in less than an hour.

• The vast majority of foreign investment activities in the United States can be performed on a standard business/tourist (B1/B2) visa.

• Chinese nationals comprise the largest group of foreign students in the United States.

• Mission China processed more than 316,000 student and exchange visitor visa applications in FY2014, a 12 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

• Student visas issued to Chinese nationals accounted for 16 percent of all types of U.S. visas issued in China. Student and exchange visitor visas issued to Chinese applicants represent 30 percent of all such visas issued worldwide.

• Changes in visa validity will not affect visa eligibility criteria, and the basic visa processing fee remains unchanged at the current rate of 160 USD.

Frequently asked questions

Q: What are the benefits of the visa validity extension?

U.S. and Chinese citizens who regularly travel back and forth between the U.S. and China will benefit from the longer validity by not having to apply and pay the application fee every year. Businesses in both countries, including the tourism industry, will benefit from increased travel, investment, and business development opportunities between the two countries. Longer visa validity will allow students and exchange visitors to return to their home countries during school and work holidays more easily.

Q: Will these changes in visa validity affect fees?

There will be no change in visa application fees. The basic visa fee of 160 USD includes appointment scheduling and passport delivery services. Visa information is available free both online at www.ustraveldocs.com and through the Call Center. Fees can be paid by debit card online, at any CITIC ATM, or in cash at a CITIC branch. Applicants can pick up their passports at any of 800 CITIC bank branches.

Q: Will these changes affect processing times?

We expect that these changes in visa validity will be very popular among Chinese travelers. The U.S. Mission in China is taking steps to handle a potential increase in visa workload and intends to keep visa processing times as short as they have been over the past several years.

Q: Will changes in visa validity have any effect on visa eligibility?

The same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa will apply as before this extension in validity.

Q: Will applicants with previous visas still be eligible to apply for visa renewal via the Interview Waiver Program?

The Interview Waiver Program (IWP) remains a valuable tool to many visa holders who wish to renew visas. A great majority of current tourist, business visitor, student, and exchange visitor nonimmigrant visa holders will remain eligible for IWP processing. More information on IWP processing can be found at www.ustraveldocs.com.

Q: Will these changes in visa validity affect visa applications subject to administrative processing?

Changes in visa validity will not change the requirement that some applications will need additional administrative processing. As is true in all visa cases, when administrative processing is required, visa validity may vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

Q: Will the increased visa validity allow me to stay longer in the United States?

It is important to note that visa validity is NOT the same as the allowed duration of stay. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port of entry where a Customs and Border Protection officer will grant admission to valid travelers. In doing so, the officer will inform the traveler of the permitted length of stay. The current change in visa validity does NOT change the permitted duration of stay for any visa class. Remaining in the United States beyond your allowed duration of stay can result in a violation of U.S. immigration laws and may cause you to be ineligible for travel to the United States in the future.

Q: When is the right time to apply for this longer-validity visa?

The up-to ten-year validity visa is not a temporary offer, but represents a long-term reciprocal commitment. While an applicant should generally apply well in advance of their anticipated travel date, an individual with a currently valid visa or with no current travel plan should not rush to apply.

Q: If the visa currently in my passport has one year validity, does it now have a longer validity?

Existing visas will be valid only until the expiration date printed on the current visa. This extension does NOT increase the validity of visas already issued. To obtain a visa with extended validity, holders of valid or recently-expired visas will need to apply again. Please note that many visa applicants are eligible for the Interview Waiver Program under which an interview may not be required; more information on IWP processing can be found at www.ustraveldocs.com.

Q: Will U.S. citizens receive ten-year tourism and business visitor visas in China?

Because this is a reciprocal arrangement, the Chinese government is committed to issuing visas valid for up to the same duration.

Q: What happens if U.S. citizens aren't issued ten-year tourist visas? Will anything change for Chinese nationals?

The arrangement is based on reciprocity. Chinese nationals will be afforded the same maximum validity for B-category visas as U.S. citizens are afforded when applying for an equivalent visa category.

Q: When will other classifications of visas have longer validity? Why don't other classifications of visas have long validity?

The United States and China continue to discuss visa validity for other classes of visas. All such decisions are made on a reciprocal basis. At the same time, it is important to note that in FY2014, business, tourist, student, and exchange visitor visas represented 97 percent of all nonimmigrant visa applications processed in China for Chinese citizens.

Q: Will dependent family members of students and exchange visitors also be eligible for these increases in visa validity?

Yes, all qualified dependent family members of students and exchange visitors will be eligible for these same increases in visa validity.

Q: Can I apply for a ten-year visa if I am a Chinese national living in a country other than China?

Yes, maximum visa validity is determined by the reciprocity arrangement with the country that issued your passport and not the country in which you apply.

For further information, please visit the United States Embassy in Beijing website.

Image: Above the Law

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More FAQs and answers:

1. Who is eligible for a 10-year visa?

All US passport holders can apply for a 10-year multiple-entry visa in the following categories: tourist (L), business (M), and family visit (Q2 & S2). US passport holders who apply for a student visa (X) will get 5 years. 10-year visas are not available to non-US citizens.

2. How long can I stay in China on a 10-year visa?

For 10-year multiple-entry visas, the duration of stay (the number of days you can stay in China per entry) is 60 days for L & M visas; 90 days for S2 visas and 120 days for Q2 visas.

3. Can I still get a 10-year visa if I need longer stays in China?

If you wish to stay longer than what is allowed under a 10-year visa (60 days for L & M, 90 days for S2, 120 days for Q2), you must make a special request and provide documents showing reasons for such a request. It will then be handled on a case-by-case basis by the visa officer. Please keep in mind that such requests may complicate your application.

4. Can I work in China with a 10-year visa?

No. The 10-year visa is for short term tourist or business visits only. If you want to work in China, you must obtain a work visa.

5. Does it cost more to get a 10-year visa?

No. The cost of a 10-year visa is the same as other shorter term visas for US citizens.

6. Does it take longer to get a 10-year visa?

No. The processing time remains the same.

7. Are there any special requirements for a 10-year visa?

No. The requirements for a 10-year visa are the same as that of a 1-year visa.

8. My passport expires in less than 10 years. Can I still get the 10-year visa?

Yes. You can get a 10-year visa as long as your passport is valid for more than one year. Once you get a 10-year visa, you can travel on this passport even after it expires, provided it is used together with a valid new US passport bearing the same name, sex, date of birth and place of birth. If any changes are made to the above mentioned information on the new passport, you must apply for a new visa.

9. I'm going to China for a scientific conference. Can I get a 10-year visa?

No. As mentioned earlier, 10-year visas are only available in the L, M, Q2 and S2 categories. Among them, the M visa is for business people going to China for business and trade purposes. People who visit China for cultural and educational exchanges and academic conferences are granted F visas, which are generally good for 6 months or 1 year.

10. The Chinese Visa Application Form does not have a 10-year option. What do I do?

You can make a request for a 10-year visa on the Chinese Visa Application Form. On Section 2.2, you can choose "Other" and write "10 Years" in the blank space.

11. I just received a Chinese visa that is good for 1 year. Can I have it changed to 10 years?

No. The Chinese Embassy will not issue a new visa if your current visa has more than 3 months of validity remaining. You should use your current visa and apply for a new one when the current visa expires, at which time you will be able to get a 10-year visa as long as you apply for an L, M, Q2 or S2 visa.

family visit (Q2 & S2) = Is this the same as a residence permit for a foreigner married to a chinese citizen?

Good question @HFCAMPO. I just got the 2 year visa. Does that mean that we can now get a 10 year visa? That would be great, wouldn't it?

90 days for S2 visas and 120 days for Q2 visas.

I dont think it is a good idea as you must come and go every 120 days.

The Residence Permit allows you to stay without having to leave every so often.

hfcampo family visa is not a spouse visa. family visa has always been 120 days

So what exactly is the diff between a family visa and a spouse visa?

Family visit = Q2 & S2
Spouse visa = ????

From what I can search.

Q2 Visa is issued to those who intend to visit their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent residence in China. The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days.

S2 Visa is issued to those who intend to visit their family members who are foreigners working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private matters. The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days.

"Family members" refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law.

So what do we call a spouse visa - residence permit - when a foreigner is married to a chinese person?

What is the diff between relative and family members?

Is a chinese wife a Relative or a Family member?

google it. no sense in doing it for you.

No one is asking you to do anything.

Anyone note the "or for other private matters" of the S2 visa? Does that mean if you are a friend visiting a Chinese friend it could count? If so, that would be sweet! What do ya'll think?


101 reasons to visit the USA:
1 - Have your wife sexually molested by TSA upon arrival.
2 - Have your spouse tasered for a simple traffic violation.
3 -

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