China launches five new measures to further facilitate entry of foreign visitors

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China has rolled out five new measures to simplify the process for foreign nationals seeking to visit the country, officials from the country’s National Immigration Administration (NIA) said at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office recently.

The five measures, effective from Jan. 11, include relaxing conditions for foreign nationals applying for port visa; relieving foreign nationals eligible for 24-hour visa-free transit at major hub airports, such as Beijing Capital International Airport, from the need to undergo inspection procedures; allowingforeign nationals already in China to apply for visa extension, renewal, and reissuance at the nearest public security organs; allowing every foreign national already in China to apply for a multiple-entry visa in case of need; and minimizing the types of the materials for visa applications for foreignnationals in China.

China has always been committed to promoting economic globalization and building an open world economy to better benefit people of all countries. 

In response to the current trend of efficient, swift international economic and trade activities, especially the liberalization and facilitation of investment and trade, China’s immigration authorities have continued to optimize policies and services for foreigners’ entry, exit and residence, striving to provide efficient and convenient immigration administration services for foreigners working, studying and living in China.

In 2023, border inspection authorities across the country inspected 210 million inbound visits, which was about 62.9 percent of the total seen in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, according to Chi Jingyang, director of the Border Inspection and Administration Department of the NIA.

With global economic and trade development, international air routes and flights have steadily resumed, and cross-border personnel flows have gradually recovered, Chi noted. Chi said he anticipated a continued growth in the number of inbound travelers in 2024.

The NIA has actively responded to the practical needs of foreign nationals by launching re-entry visa facilitation measures to meet the needs of fast-paced, high-frequency international exchanges, according to Mao Xu, director of the Foreigners Management Department of the NIA.

Foreigners in China who need to enter and exit the country multiple times for legitimate and reasonable reasons can apply for multiple-entry visas with the exit-entry administrations of China’s public security organs by providing relevant supporting documents such as invitation letters, before their current visas expire, Mao said, explaining that the measure was aimed at stabilizing foreigners’ expectations of exchanges and interactions in China.

In an effort to better serve foreigners’ efficient and smooth inter-regional mobility in China and facilitate their reasonable travel planning, the newly introduced measure allows foreigners already in China to apply for visa extensions, renewal, and reissuance,at the nearest public security organs. Based on preliminary pilot, the new measure has been further expanded to cover all foreigners staying in China for short-term non-diplomatic, official business activities, visits and exchanges, investment and entrepreneurship, private matters, tourism, or to visit relatives with legitimate reasons for extending their stays.

In addition, the measure for simplifying visa application materials for foreigners in China stipulatesthat foreign nationals whose accommodation registration records, business licenses, and other information can be checked through the shared information systems are now exempt from having to present the physical certificates when applying for visas.

Visa issuance through port visa authorities across the country has increased by 166 percent year onyear since the NIA launched in last August a measure to facilitate port visa application for foreign nationals who urgently need to engage in commerce and trade activities in China, according to Mao, who noted that the measure has received positive feedback from many foreigners and foreign-invested enterprises.

“The measure for relaxation of port visa application conditions for foreigners launched this time mainly expands port visa application eligibility further to foreigners who seek to visit China for non-diplomatic, official business activities, visits and exchanges, investment and entrepreneurship, private affairs, or to visit relatives and unable to obtain a visa beforehand due to time constraints,” Mao said. 

This new measure basically covers most foreigners with urgent needs to come to China, fully leveraging the functional advantages of port visas and providing more convenient and flexible pathways for foreigners entering China, Mao noted.

Since China implemented a unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia on a trial basis starting from December 1 last year, around 147,000 visa-free entries from these six countries were recorded as of January 9 this year, showing an overall upward trend. 

On January 8, over 4,300 visa-free travelers from these six countries entered China, which was more than twice the number on December 1, 2023.

Liu Haitao, deputy head of the NIA, said the administration is committed to working with the relevant authorities to address the difficulties foreign nationals may encounter when doing business, studying, and traveling in China, and strengthening the reform of the immigration management services and innovation of policies and systems, to proactively contribute to the creation of a world-class business environment, Liu noted.



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