Woohoo! I hate the process of getting visas (not the credit cards — those I love — as they fund much of my travel). The process is costly, time consuming, and means I have to separate myself from my passport for some amount of time as the visa is being processed.
Fortunately I have both a US and German passport, which helps me at least somewhat. Countries love going “tit-for-tat” with the US, whereby if the US adds visa requirements or fees, they reciprocate. That’s where my German passport is invaluable, since it has saved me hundreds of dollars and a lot of aggravation, especially in South America. My German passport has allowed me to enter Brazil without a visa, and Argentina and Chile without having to pay a reciprocal entry fee.
Anyway, the US and China have announced a new, reciprocal 10 year visa policy for tourists and business travelers. This is supposed to kick in tomorrow, Wednesday, November 12, 2014, and will allow travelers from both countries to apply for a 10 year visa rather than the current maximum of a one year visa.
The change is expected to be a boon for the U.S. economy, creating up to 440,000 American jobs by 2021 because increased tourism and business spurred by visits from more than 7 million Chinese that would generate nearly $85 billion in revenue, according to a White House estimate.
Obama also noted that China is the U.S.’s fastest-growing export market and touted the benefits of Chinese investments in the United States that have created job opportunities for Americans.
Less than two percent of the 100 million Chinese travelers last year came to the U.S. and the new policy is expected to incentivize travel.
I’ll be getting a 10 year Chinese visa ASAP, especially as I’d like to visit the Harbin Ice Festival in January. My past few visits to China have been using the 72 hour transit without visa policy, which is no doubt better than nothing, but also doesn’t let you explore anything beyond the major cities, both due to the time and airport restrictions.
This is great news for everyone… well, perhaps except those working for visa processing companies!
(Tip of the hat to Rapid Travel Chai)