The new 10-year visas available to US passport holders will make travel to China easier for those who qualify, but applicants face the same standards as before.
The United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce (USCCC) posted some clarifying information to its website regarding the visas and their use:
"U.S. passport holders eligible for Chinese short term business (M) and tourist (L) visas will be issued multiple-entry visas valid for 10 years. In order to qualify for 10-year visas, US passport holders must have more than one-year validity remaining on their passport. Once a 10-year visa has been issued, the validity of the visa does not expire if the holder renews his/her passport. The visa holder can travel carrying the old passport with valid Chinese visa along with the new passport. The cost for the visas will remain the same.
"Qualified U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid for up to five years depending on the length of their educational program. There will be no changes to visa processing for non-US passport holders.
"As international relations can change quickly without advanced notice, we urge you to take advantage of this new policy and apply for your China visa at your earliest convenience. In addition, if your passport expires in less than one year, we encourage you to consider renewing your passport."
Relatively high standards for L visas are one reason Beijing has seen declining tourism numbers for 2013 and in recent quarters. Programs such as 72-hour, visa-free travel to Beijing have not been sufficiently easy or welcome to make the city attractive as a destination.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on November 24, 2014.
Photos: Max Braun (Flickr)