Update: Allied Passport is offering One Mile at a Time readers a $5 discount on their service fees for visa applications.
Earlier in the week I wrote about how the US and China have announced a new, reciprocal 10 year visa policy for tourists and business travelers. This is obviously fantastic news, given that previously US travelers could get at most a one year visa for travel to China.
The change was supposed to kick in on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, though as is usually the case with bureaucracy, there seems to be a lot of misinformation, and it also takes time for policies to spread. Obviously there are lots of questions about how the process will work in practice, and up until now we’ve had limited answers.
The United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce posted some useful information about how the 10 year visa program will work:
Starting on November 12, 2014, the United States and China will enact a new reciprocal visa agreement to increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas and student and exchange visas to each other’s citizens.
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 1 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. USCCC can provide one stop service for your convenience.
So the two key takeaways here are that:
- Your passport needs at least one year of validity for a 10 year visa (ordinarily you’d need just six months of validity for a Chinese visa)
- If your passport expires before your Chinese visa, just bring along your old US passport with the visa in it, and it will still be valid — the visa doesn’t expire with the passport.
It kind of looks like the consulates are still figuring out the actual policy, for what it’s worth. Many report being told that if they’ve never had a Chinese visa then they’re not eligible for a 10 year visa.
Personally, I intend to wait a few weeks for the dust to settle, and will hopefully apply for a 10 year visa sometime in December. At that point I’ll probably use a visa service, so I can be explicit about only wanting a 10 year visa.
And that’s probably what I’d recommend others do, unless you really want to be the guinea pig in this experiment.
Has anyone tried to get a 10 year Chinese visa yet, and if so, what was your experience?
(Tip of the hat to MichaelP)